Making the most of fifth year

A lot of students in fifth year have a tendency to put work on the back burner, deciding that they will worry about it in sixth year. However, because you have more time than a sixth year student to do in-depth revision, the work you do this year can sometimes have more of an effect than what do you do in Leaving Cert, and will certainly lay the groundwork for great success in the Leaving Cert exams. Here are some tips to make the most of the year.

1 ) Do your best to keep up

Look at starting fifth year as a positive new beginning and think about what you would like to get out of the year. Do you want to just float along, or do you want to make a conscious effort to lay a solid groundwork for good Leaving Cert results? Make an effort to be focused and engaged in class, try to do the best homework you can, and study for every test. Your priorities this year should be keeping up with homework and studying hard for class tests

2 ) Getting back into the books

Whether you are coming into fifth year off the back of a lengthy post-Junior Cert summer or a fun-filled transition year, you may have simply forgotten how to study. It definitely takes a while to adjust to the senior cycle, and students may feel confused when it comes to sitting down to revise for class tests.

It is important to develop good time management skills, when studying make a plan of what you want to achieve that day. Forty minutes is a good amount of time to spend on a topic before moving on, and make sure to take regular breaks. When starting to revise a topic, read over the key parts of a chapter and any relevant handouts your teacher may have given you. Write out the key information and try to condense a whole chapter onto one page.

3 ) Hard work will pay off

One of the soundest pieces of advice I received when I started fifth year was a simple one — study hard.

Working hard in fifth year will be rewarded big time next year. Take your class tests seriously and revise the topics well, so that when it comes to next year you can be confident in the knowledge that you already know the topics that you did in fifth year.

What most fifth year students do not know is that in Leaving Cert they will be expected to learn new course information and revise everything from this year. Right now, utilise the time you have at your disposal to get a good grasp of this year’s course material, so that next year you will not have double the workload.

4 ) Take the time to make good notes

When revising, make study notes that you will be able to return to throughout the senior cycle. Do whatever works for you, whether it is the mind-map technique, flash-cards, or writing out lists of keywords from a chapter. In Leaving Cert year you may not have all the time you would like to make notes, so do it now while you have the chance.

You will get a great feeling in sixth year when it comes to revising a chapter and knowing you already have notes, with the most important parts of a chapter written out. Try to get everything important from a chapter or section onto one page, and use different coloured pens and highlighters — it is easier to learn from notes that have colour rather than black or blue pen.

5 ) Career focus

Start thinking about what you want to do after school, and research relevant career paths or courses. If you are thinking about going into third level education, try to attend at least one college open day this year. By putting some effort into thinking about this this year, there will be a weight lifted off your shoulders in Leaving Cert, when you will have enough on your plate.

Matthew Geraghty is currently studying arts with journalism in NUI Galway.

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