independent

Wednesday 18 September 2019

A student's guide to exam survival

CLAIRE FOGARTY

ORALS, practicals, mocks, CAO forms – and most of all the Junior or Leaving Cert. If you feel some of these are causing you problems, don't panic and follow our exam guide. - The examiners are there to give you marks, not take them away. Everyone starts with 100 per cent of the marks, not nothing, so try not to let the examiners take them away. - The information does not stick when you're up late studying, so getting the right amount of sleep is important. - Draw up a timetable and stick to it. - If you find it hard to study, try starting by doing 10 minutes. If you work in that time and do nothing else have a 10-minute break and then start again gradually, building up the study time, keeping breaks to 10 minutes. Use this technique when your mind wanders. - Eating healthy is important for your brain and body. Proper meals are better than nibbling. Try to have protein, calcium, fibre and a piece of fruit, like Weetabix or Muesli and a banana for breakfast with orange juice. If you don't usually eat breakfast, try eating a piece of fruit or yoghurt. It will help you start the day better and you won't feel sluggish through the morning. Omega tablets are good for the brain too. - There is no point writing long pages of notes. Try shortening them: it will make them easier to learn. If you know ' trigger words' it will be easier for you to remember them. - If you are under pressure and feel you are not coping with the stress, talk with your teachers or parents. If you have spent months deciding on your CAO form, leave it – it will come back in August. - Being organised is important. Have all your notes together. If you are unorganised, invest in some folders for each subject and have all your notes in them. Revision lists are also an easy way to keep track on what you're doing and what you have yet to learn. - Being stuck in a room for a long time is not good, so take a break every now and again, go for a walk and get some fresh air. Studies have shown that the most creative periods come after a period of exercise. - Make use of the exam papers. Each topic you revise, make an attempt at answering the related questions in the exam books. Check your answers and keep the correct answer in your notes.

According to skool.ie, these are what examiners have discovered while correcting exams:

NOT READING THE PAPER CORRECTLY

Make sure to read the paper and questions thoroughly prior to starting. Understanding the terms of the question ahead is crucial.

NOT FINISHING THE PAPER

Time can fly in an exam and can leave you stressed near the end if you don't have everything completed. Don't spend it perfecting a question, move on and try to gain more marks in a different question.

IGNORING THE MARKING SCHEME

By taking the marks of a question into account, you can clearly indicate whether a few paragraphs or a few pages are necessary. Avoid writing everything you know on the subject, just give the appropriate amount and the most important facts. It will help you save time writing pointless information.

REPETITION

Repeating the same point is a waste of time and you will also get no extra marks for it. Make the point once and don't rephrase it.

ROUGH WORK

Always include your rough work with the exam script even if you think it's relevant – you might get some extra credit for formulae or calculations.

We went out and about on the street to get some practical advice from people who already experienced the exams.

Katie Ronan, who sat her Junior Cert last year, advises people: 'On the day of an exam have a sweet or two to help you get all the energy and help you through the long hours of the exam.'

Katie Kavanagh, also a former Junior Cert student, said: 'Once you get the paper, write down all the formulae and points so you won't forget them.'

Teacher Mrs O'Connor had some advice: 'Practice timing, don't spend too long on each question and bring a watch into the exam with you so you won't get carried away with one question. Familiarise yourself with each paper so you know how many questions you need to answer. Get advice off teachers if you are under pressure or are stressed.'

Mrs Moran, a French teacher, suggests avoiding other students who are panicking as they may knock your confidence.

SOME FINAL ADVICE

Before an exam, get enough sleep the night before, eat food like pasta, fish and eggs, have a good breakfast, bring some snacks and water along with you and make sure you have plenty of working pens and pencils.

There's nothing as bad as getting off to a bad start the morning of the exam, so organize yourself the night before having everything ready for the morning. Get up early and give yourself plenty of time.

Last-minute cramming of something new is not a good idea but it's OK to look over some notes. Finally if you're one of those people who did very little work so far, don't despair, there is still time to get things done. Avoid panicking, set a timetable for study, take your teachers advice and put the head down. Good

luck to all those sitting exams.

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