Now is the time to clarify your goals, be positive, identify the key areas to attack, make out a realistic revision schedule, and get a system working for you. Each individual student profile is different, so take the opportunity to identify your particular strengths and weaknesses and focus on those areas that could make a crucial difference to YOU.
What is Good Study?
To be effective, study must be:
- Active – always work with a pen and paper, look for key points, test yourself. Never just sit down and read for a set period. Focus on tasks, not time.
- Organised – always ask yourself at the start of a study session, "What do I want to have completed in this session?" Have a plan for what you want to cover this week and this month. Have an overview of the priority areas in each subject.
- Aimed at Understanding – always look to build material into patterns and associations that make sense to you. Link new information with your existing knowledge of a subject. Make use of graphic examples and illustrations. When you understand something, you will have little difficulty in remembering it.
Setting SMART Study Goals
Don’t have as your target, "Study geography for an hour."
Do have as your target, "Revise physical geography – rivers, and sketch a model answer to the question on last year's paper."
Measure your progress towards your goal. Use a revision checklist for each subject and tick off each topic as you study/revise it. In this way, you’ll literally see your progress.
Break down your study goal into a set of specific tasks, e.g. background reading of research material, draw up essay plan, complete writing of essay. Base each study session on tasks, not time.
Don’t set goals you are unlikely to achieve. Make realistic demands on yourself, in consultation with teachers and guidance counsellors. Otherwise, you will quickly lose heart and lose interest.
Avoid panic before a deadline. Always time your study tasks, working back from the deadline. If you have a test in three weeks’ time, set blocks of revision work for each of the three weeks.
"Eating the Elephant" - Revision Checklists
Break up the job into smaller pieces. You'll get more done if you can do it piece by piece.
Each subject that you are studying can be broken down into its constituent parts, with main sections, sub-topics, and supporting details. A very useful start is to list out all the topics on the course according to this hierarchy and use this framework as a 'revision checklist' for the subject. This has been done for you within the skoool.ie Exam Centre for the main Leaving Cert subjects.
You can tick off the boxes as you cover the topics in class and as you revise them in your study sessions. It is a useful device that has the effect of giving you an overview of the subject and a means of monitoring your progress relative to the time available.