Galway Advertiser 2005/2005_04_14/GA_1404_E1_018.pdf
April 14 2005
H E A LT H
MARY O'CONNOR Countdown to the exams
With the Junior and Leaving Certificate examinations just weeks away, most students are busy revising at this stage. Some fear they will never get through the mountain of work ahead of them. There is so much to do and so little time. Experts however warn against this thinking saying the most important thing to do is not to panic. Huge amounts can be achieved in the days ahead if you are organised, know what you need to learn and begin to apply yourself to this task, says Dr Fidelma Healy Eames, a teacher, lecturer and education provider with fhe Education & Training Consultants, Oranmore, which offers specialist courses for students, teachers and parents. She urges students to approach the exam with a positive mental attitude. "View the test as an opportunity to show what you know as opposed to seeing it as a means to be caught out." She offers the following tips and advice which may help. work. List the individual topics/chapters that you need to revise in each subject and note the time you will need to do so. If you feel you cannot do everything on the course, ask your subject teacher for advice on the topics/chapters that need to be prioritised. 2. From this revision plan, draw up daily guidelines for what you hope to achieve the night/day before you plan to do the work. Otherwise you may forget something important or are in danger of making poor use of your time. 3. Start narrowing down the load that has to be learnt. Set up review folders in each subject area and include the cream of the course (ie, what is absolutely essential to know). This should contain * summaries of chapters, important notes, highlighted sections * exam questions attempted previously * class tests completed - they show what you know and what you do not know. 4. Use the KWL revision strategy (see below) when studying topics : (i) Note quickly what you know on the topic (K). Here you self-test and consolidate learning. (ii) Next, write down what you need to learn in the form of study questions (eg, what was Parnell's contribution to Home Rule/ Irish history and why is his contribution important?) (W). This is the most important section as you're identifying the questions you need to find the answers to. Sometimes students make the mistake of spending too much time reviewing what they already know instead of moving on to what they don't yet know. If you are unsure which questions to ask yourself, consult previous exam papers for guidance or use the 5Ws & 1H strategy (who, what, where, when, why, how). These question words lead you into elicting important information in most cases. (iii) Now read the text to find the answer to your study questions and note this in the what you have learnt (L) section in your KWL chart. In this way you read with a purpose (ie, reading to learn) and you will get information at the end of the reading. 5. Use coloured pens to highlight important points or sections in your notes. This will help when you are reviewing material. On the day of the exam bring the coloured pens with you, too. The examiner will find it easier to correct your work when the main headings and subheadings are in a different colour from the body of the answer.
6. When the key sections/summaries of your work are laid out in an easy to read manner (ideally, one A4 page per topic, where possible), then you can begin to learn the material. You will know a lot already from having listened in class, completed homework and summarised material. If your work is easy to access and presented in condensed form, you will be able to review the content the night before each exam. It is too late to learn from the textbook at this point. 7. Memory-Aids: Work out ways which will help you remember important information. It may be mind-mapping using key words that link with information already in
Educationalist Fidelma Healy Eames. Photo:-Mike Shaughnessy
your long-term memory or you may try inventing acronyms (eg, SKILL = excretory organs, ie, Skin, Kidneys, Intestines, Liver, Lungs). These little tricks can take the pain out of remembering lots of information. 8. Managing your time is important so you do not get exhausted. Plan your work in hourly chunks in the following way: 45 minutes
1. Set up a master revision plan for each subject. This will help get you focused and give some structure to your
study/revision,10 minute break (exercise, food, relaxation, fresh air) and five minutes quick review on what you did in the first 45 minutes. Then you can start on the next hour's work. Remember it is crucial to have a plan. It takes a lot of the hard work out of thinking up what to do next. 9. Drink lots of water as you work - the brain loves hydration.
10. Ensure you get adequate sleep, food and relaxation. 11. Try so stay positive, even if you are not on schedule and your workload seem harder than expected. Avoid worrying about the exam itself or the results you are likely to get. Your job now is to stay focused on revision and to apply yourself to the exam.
On the day of the exam
* Make rough notes on the back of exam sheets, (ie, off-load acronyms, mnemonics) * Read all questions carefully before answering and note the value of each in terms of marks. * Circle key question/processing words (eg list, discuss, evaluate, criticise, describe). * Number and answer all parts of the question. Marks cannot be given for unanswered parts. * Jot down notes beside each question as you read it for the first time. * Start with the easiest questions to gain confidence. * Before you answer, make sure you understand the question. It is wise to ask the supervisor if you are unsure. * When beginning to answer a question, jot down any additional points and number your points and ideas in the order that you will use them. * Your attitude should be that this paper is targeted at someone who is virtually ignorant of your topic. Explain everything that falls outside "common knowledge" * Use facts and logic, not your feelings about something. Exams are testing your understanding of a subject. * Answer the question directly and forcefully in the first sentence and include some of the words in the question to keep you focused. * Include only one main idea in each paragraph. State your important idea clearly and precisely and then follow this immediately with supporting evidence. * With multi-paragraph answers, use transition words to give continuity, eg, however, furthermore, nevertheless, next) * End with a summarising statement or two. * Be neat. Research indicates that when the same paper is written neatly or sloppily, the graders on average rated the neat paper a letter grade higher. So, if you have messy writing write on every second line only to make your content more legible. Remember to make the examiner's job as easy as possible.
Studying for the Leaving Cert.