FOR many exam students, working towards the Leaving Cert can feel like a chaotic rush to exams in June.
When life becomes chaotic, we tend to lose our sense of control and autonomy over our lives, which can become very stressful.
Taking the time to plan and organise schoolwork and study is an invaluable exercise that will not only produce greater results but will also restore a sense of control and calm in the busy months ahead.
Many students attempt to revise for exams by sitting at a desk and opening a textbook, hoping that by reading material over and over again will help them learn. This method might work for a few but there are a number of different ways that students can adopt a more targeted approach which will help them to stay engaged with study and also give a sense of value to the time they put in.
Organising everything you need, books copies, stationary etc. might sound like common sense, however many students fail to take the time to do this and consequently spend a lot of time becoming frustrated looking for what they need at the last minute.
Before beginning to revise, taking a few minutes to organise what you will need will help to avoid procrastination or frustration when trying to study.
Creating a space where everything needed is easy to access will help focus the mind on the task and increase engagement.
Creating a Study Plan
With such a big workload and a lot of revision to fit in over the next few months, students need to create study plans in order to ensure that they are using their time wisely and also covering every topic they need to study.
Creating a study plan involves identifying specific times in the day when you are going to study, breaking that time down into what subjects you will study and then deciding which specific topics within each of these subject that you will revise. Knowing exactly what you will study will allow you to stay focused and feel like you have achieved something from the effort you put in.
When creating a plan its important to prioritise areas of revision. It can be easy to engage with the topics that we find interesting or are already good at, but its also important to tackle areas of difficulty. This will help you to make progress in these areas and also highlight where you may need to ask for help to understand something.
How to Approach Study
Valuable revision requires a number of things in order for it to be worthwhile, these are:
· Having a quiet space to work that is clean and tidy.
· Avoiding distractions such as social media, games and devices.
· Ensuring that you begin by revising a subject you enjoy, then a subject you find difficult followed by a subject you often overlook.
· Using active learning methodologies, such as revising the material first and the applying this by practicing exam questions.
· Planning for regular breaks where you get up and move around.
By ensuring that these elements are included in study time you are more likely to feel like you are making progress and that you have retained the information you are studying.
Many students complain that they spend hours revising and they remember very little of it.
By using active learning and focusing in on specific topics time spent revising will become more productive and worthwhile.
One of the most important things that students can do during the exam year is ask for support when needed. Many students become overwhelmed by waiting too long to ask for help when they are experiencing difficulties. Parents and teachers will often hear students saying they want to give up or quit. This is a signal that help is needed.
There are many supports available to students to help them through the year. Teachers are happy to help with any questions students might have and explain areas they are finding difficult.
Guidance Counsellors are available to help when students feel overwhelmed or need practical advice on career choices and making choices on what to do next year. Many schools also offer supervised study, which give students the quiet space to revise without the distractions that they might have at home.
Often, it’s the simple things that we overlook that can help us overcome difficult challenges. By taking the time to plan and organise schoolwork and revision, students can take control over their workload and develop a sense of progress and purpose throughout the next few months that will help reduce stress and allow them to reach their full potential.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Alan White is a second level teacher, 6th Year Head and wellbeing author at Bishopstown Community School. He also facilitates wellbeing workshops for companies and organisations. For more information visit www.changeswellbeing.ie linkedin Alan White or facebook Changes Wellbeing
Tomorrow: Wellbeing during exam year