From using flashcards to cramming with purpose, the 2018 University Challenge Champions share their study tips in this short blog.

This year’s final saw St John’s College, Cambridge win the series trophy after impressing Jeremy Paxman with its knowledge of organic chemistry, Anselm of Canterbury and bird poets. But this isn’t merely a team of endearing nerds. Students sitting exams have much to learn from the work ethic of the St John’s squad. Rosie McKeown, Matt Hazell, John-Clark Levin and James Devine-Stoneman were asked for their revision tips.

Go in with a strategy

The team first prepared for the show by scouring YouTube videos of old episodes to find common topics – and the same approach works with past exam papers, says McKeown. They’ll help you ‘suss’ your weaknesses and the course structure. More so than learning the content of the course, it’s about working out what you need to know and then using your time as efficiently as possible. People approach revision as something separate from the work you’ve been doing all year, which is a mistake. If you look at it as part of the process, then it’s less daunting.”

Repeat to perfection 

Don’t get too complacent about the topics you think you know well, team captain Devine-Stoneman advises. “I try to cover a topic at multiple points in the run-up to the exam. A month or two beforehand, I run through my notes again and again in the days leading up to it. If you don’t have much time, make sure the things you do know, you can ace. It’s usually better to go in with a selection of things you can do very well than a half-hearted knowledge of a range of things.” That way, Hazell adds, you can always try to steer an awkward question back to something you know.

Use flashcards

The team is big on flashcards. Devine-Stoneman uses an app when he gets a free moment in the lab as a PhD student in materials science. McKeown also uses them for both her languages degree and quizzing. “I’ll focus on flashcards in the last steps before the exam,” she says. “I tend to use different colours. Nice stationery is a motivation for me.”

Take breaks with rewards

The team agrees it’s important to have a rewards system in place when studying. McKeown says she always has a puzzle book or novel on the go. “Organise yourself so you don’t have to revise all through the night. It’s good to relax in the evening. There comes a point when you stop absorbing information.”

Cram with purpose

“I’m big on last-minute cramming,” says Hazell. “I’m quite aggressive in setting goals. If there are three days before an exam, with 24 lectures to revise, set daily targets so you can feel like you’re making progress and you’ll have covered everything.” And if you run out of time, “know when to cut your losses”, he says. “If there’s a small area of the syllabus that’s going to take a huge amount of time to revise, I ditch it.” At this point, “it’s about making sure you know what you know in more detail”.

Source: theguardian.com

GoConqr write an interesting piece about study and study skills that I’d like to share with you. Source @ end of blog. They talk about 12 areas that I hope will benefit you as you commence study proper, whether you are in Secondary or Third Level Education.

  1. Set Study Goals
  2. Make a Study Plan
  3. Take Regular Study Breaks
  4. Embrace New Technologies
  5. Test Yourself
  6. Find a Healthy Balance
  7. Be Positive
  8. Collaborate with Study Partners
  9. Turn lessons into stories
  10. Establish a Study Routine
  11. Mark Small Challenges
  12. Consult teachers

Set Study Goals

There is lots of credible research suggesting that goal setting can be used as part of a strategy to help people successfully effect positive changes in their lives, so never underestimate the power of identifying to yourself the things you want to achieve. Just make sure to ask yourself some key questions: Am I setting realistic goals? Will I need to work harder to achieve those goals? If you’re happy with the goals you’ve set then you should aim to develop your study plan for the year ahead with your goals in mind.

Make a Study Plan

Time is precious. Nobody is more aware of this than the poor student who hasn’t studied a thing until the night before an exam. By then, of course, it’s too late. The key to breaking the cycle of cramming for tests is to think ahead and make a study plan. Not only will this help you get organised and make the most of your time, it’ll also put your mind at ease and eliminate that nasty feeling you get when you walk into an exam knowing that you’re not at all prepared.

Take Regular Study Breaks

It’s important to realize that you can’t maintain an optimum level of concentration without giving yourself some time to recover from the work you’ve put in. This can take the form of a ten-minute walk, a trip to the gym, having a chat with a friend or simply fixing yourself a hot drink. If it feels like procrastination, then rest assured that it’s not: taking regular short breaks not only help improve your focus, they can boost your productivity too.

Embrace New Technologies

Studying no longer means jotting things down with a pen on a scrap of paper. The old handwritten method still has its place of course, it’s just that now there are more options for personalising study that ever before. Whether it’s through online tools, social media, blogs, videos or mobile apps, learning has become more fluid and user-centred.

Test Yourself

It’s a strange thing, but sometimes simply entering an exam environment is enough to make you forget some of the things you’ve learned. The solution is to mentally prepare for the pressure of having to remember key dates, facts, names, formulas and so on. Testing yourself with regular quizzes is a great way of doing this. And don’t worry of you don’t perform brilliantly at first – the more you practice, the better you’ll become.

Find a Healthy Balance

Take this opportunity to evaluate yourself both physically and mentally. Is your engine running on low? Instead of  complaining “I never get enough sleep” or “I’m eating too much convenience food” take control and do something about it! Make the change and see how it positively affects your attitude and study routine. This should motivate you to maintain a healthy balance in the future.

Be Positive

Your attitude has a big impact on the level of study that you get done and the effectiveness of your learning process. If you keep saying that you can’t do it and won’t commit to the idea of learning, attempting to study is only likely to become more difficult. Instead, focus your mind on positive outcomes and on how you can use your own individual strengths to achieve them. When you think positively, the reward centers in your brain show greater activity, thereby making you feel less anxious and more open to new study tips.

Collaborate with Study Partners

At this stage of the school year, you should know your classmates pretty well. This is a good point in time to select a couple of study partners who you know you work well with and are motivated to achieve good grades also. Don’t worry if you can’t meet up too often, you can use online tools to communicate and share study notes with one another.

Turn lessons into stories

Everybody likes to read or listen to a good story, and with good reason – not only do stories entertain us, but they also help us to understand and memorize key details too. You can apply this to your studies by weaving important details or facts into a story – the more outlandish and ridiculous you can make it, the better.

Establish a Study Routine

Your study routine is comprised of more than planning what to learn and when. One of the main concerns is your study environment. Find a place to study that is quiet and with few distractions. Alternatively, you could also try switching it up by sitting in a different place in your school library every day and seeing how this works for you.

Mark Small Challenges

When you have to face very long and dense subjects, you can set small challenges to keep your spirits high; a good way to focus on the day-to-day and find motivations while you study. According to scientific analysis, the more motivated and excited we are, the better our brain performs.

Consult teachers

Any questions you have about the exam, the best you can do is go to the Teacher / Lecturer of the subject and expose your doubts. Not only is the person best suited to solve your questions, but your initiative will be well received and you’ll show good attitude by demonstrating that you’re interested in his subject.

There really aren’t any hard and fast rules to play by when it comes to the best times for studying or how long you should work for.

Everybody is different, so the best way to establish a routine is to try different things and see what works best for you, then modify your routine for maximum learning effectiveness.

Source: goconqr.com

Whether you have had to sit major state examinations or third level examinations, the 1st June or the 1st July mark the official start of the summer holiday period for most if not all students. Two – three months i.e. eight to twelve weeks are available to you to source employment, get ‘world of work experience’ and I guess more importantly, make some pocket money for those summer weekends or for school / college next term. With Ireland experiencing its lowest employment rate for many years, sourcing employment shouldn’t be overly difficult. Where there’s a will, there’s a way!

Consider the following ideas:

• Who do you, your family members, relations and / or friends know in business that have direct or indirect business contacts to decisionmakers
• Do an EYK List i.re. Everyone You Know List
• Take a walk / drive around your area of residence, your town and / or nearest city, who are the major (indeed minor employers), what do they do, where do the need help, could you help them, do they employ young people like you
• Read your local newspaper’s business pages to see who’s recruiting
• Develop a CV that sells you to prospective employers, tailoring it accordingly around their business and how you can help them, outlining your relevant talents, skills and abilities

Working during your summer holidays and between school / college breaks has so many benefits that you may not see or realize now, but in the medium to long term, you will.

Some of these benefits include:

• Enhancing your time management skills
• Reporting to a manager or supervisor on what you are doing / have done
• Developing people skills
• Developing customer care and customer service skills
• Handling cash and financial transactions
• Work experience for your CV’s of the future
• Experiencing making and saving your own money
• Making new friends

So, don’t waste this summer, get out there and get a job…

www.qualifax.ie   

www.qualifax.ie is Ireland’s National Learners’ Database and is the “one stop shop” for learners and the public.   Comprehensive, annually updated information is provided about further and higher education and training options in Ireland and further afield. Articles and links are also provided to assist students, job seekers, parents, guidance professionals and graduates to make informed choices for education, training and career pathways.

Qualifax is a service provided by Quality and Qualifications Ireland  (www.qqi.ie).

If you are looking for the widest range of education and training programmes in Ireland or considering further or higher education and training or unsure of which Leaving Certificate subjects to take, Qualifax aims to provide Guidance Professionals with extensive information about programmes and career choices.

www.qualifax.ie aims to support individuals of all ages and backgrounds to make informed and confident career choices and help answer the following questions:

  • Are you or someone you know not sure about what to study at university or college?
  • Have dropped out of college and are not sure of what to do next?
  • Have graduated from college or university and is unsure what direction to take next?
  • Are considering a career change or returning to education or training?

www.qualifax.ie is linked to the National Framework Qualification (NFQ) and is intended to put the learner at the centre of the education and training system in Ireland.  The NFQ is a system of ten levels. It incorporates awards made for all kinds of learning, from initial learning to Doctorate, wherever the learning is gained. For example, the Irish Junior Certificate is at NFQ Level 3, apprenticeship qualifications are at a number of NFQ Levels, the Honours Bachelor Degree is at NFQ Level 8 and the Doctoral Degree is at NFQ Level 10. The NFQ provides a structure (a framework) to compare and contrast the level and standard of different qualifications, helping you to make informed decisions about qualification choices and to consider what options might be available for further studies. The NFQ also makes it easier to explain to others what qualifications one holds or are studying for. This becomes very important when considering further learning and applying for a job.

 

(Source: www.qualifax.ie)