It is a bright day in mid-June. You are lying in your bed, very aware that no alarm is going off and you do not have to be anywhere or pick up any books today. One of the most difficult exams, if not the most difficult exam, in your life is behind you.
Alas, there is a substantial amount of time to go before then. Sixth year is tough, but developing good study habits now will be rewarded in June. Here are some tips to help you not only survive, but succeed during the year:
1. Start early
Get working early in the school year. Getting some revision done this side of Christmas will result in a less stressful New Year. When you go back to school after Christmas teachers will bombard you with study plans for the mocks, which will be shortly followed by oral exams and project deadlines. By starting now, you will be more familiar with the course material as the exams approach and you won’t be as stressed, confident in the knowledge that you have already done a good amount of study.
2. Make a study plan
It is a good idea to make a study plan. At weekends, when you have completed your homework, try to schedule in a few hours of work if you can, to prepare for class tests or focus on a topic your finding difficult. Tackle the subject you find the most challenging first and figure out if you prefer to study early or late in the day. Make sure to set aside a certain amount of time for the things you enjoy — you can view this as a reward after study.
3. Slow and steady wins the race
Take the year at a gradual pace. Don’t put yourself under too much pressure to achieve your desired results now. You can aim to achieve these in June, work towards this goal, using your class tests and mock exams as stepping stones to achieving this result.
4. Where are the marks going?
Before you begin studying for a subject, it’s a good idea to take a look through previous exam papers to see which sections carry the most marks. Then, you can put more effort into these sections which will lead to better results on the paper. In English, for example, a lot of emphasis is put on the poetry question in paper two, but it only carries 50 out of the 400 marks and students are often left feeling underprepared for the essay question on paper one, which carries 100 marks.
5. Put yourself first
Not that you need to be told, but sixth year is stressful. It is important to look after yourself, make sure your getting enough sleep, eating well, and taking breaks. Don’t spend all day Saturday and Sunday in the books, take a good chunk of time off for yourself at the weekend. You will come back to studying feeling rested and ready to work.
Matthew Geraghty is currently studying arts with journalism in NUI Galway.