With only a matter of weeks to go to the Leaving Certificate examinations, it is now time to transition from doing homework to full-time study. Indeed your teachers should have by now ceased giving homework and be focused on study, passed papers and particular areas of examination questions that might come up in the examinations.

When it comes to study, you should have by now summarised each chapter in each subject book that can be summarised into manageable study notes like a mind-map, pointer cards and / or note-pad. Studying from the actual books themselves is difficult as you are looking at and reading all of this information, trying to decipher what is core and key, and what part of it could be asked in an examination. If you haven’t already done this, then do it, it is not too late. You still have lots of time left to transfer the main subject chapter information that could be asked about in an exanimation into manageable study notes. This will make your study periods easier, more productive and indeed more enjoyable.

Speaking of study periods, how long should you be studying for as you head into the final furlong of this long 5-6 year school race?

There are many different theories of this from many experts. Some suggest 45 minute periods with a 15 minutes break, some say 60 minutes and so on. I guess it is really what works best for you. You should have some form of study plan / agenda that gives you some structure to your day and ensures that you are giving adequate, ample and the necessary time to each subject that require it. Whatever you choose, include break times, put the study plan on paper and stick to it.


Fail to plan, plan to fail…



A Professor Aidan Moran was interviewed on Irish Radio recently about his thoughts and tips on how to study. The interviewer put herself in the shoes of the student asking pertinent questions on how to study leading up to an examination/s. His approach was interesting, innovative , yet obvious (when you heard it). He outlined that students get very stressed before an examination, because of the fear of the unknown, they are being taken out of their comfort zone and put under time pressure. If they studied effectively, this stress would be significantly reduced. Below are listed the main comments from the Professor during the 20 minute interview on how to study.

  • Studying is the ability to remember what you read / learned
  • Study is not all about knowledge, it is about memory of the knowledge
  • Make short summaries of what you are studying
  • Never study a chapter / section in a book without having a question written down about it
  • Reading can be mindless some times
  • Study is never mindless
  • Studying is looking for answers to questions
  • You must have questions to answer when studying, otherwise you are not studying
  • Passive reading is not studying
  • Having a question makes you think
  • If information in the chapter / section does not help you answer the question, then don’t read / study it
  • Use past years exam papers to source questions
  • Don’t study topics, study questions about the topics
  • Our brains switch on, when we ask ourselves a question
  • Change every chapter / section title into a question, then you are switched on
  • Summaries at the end of a chapter / topic / section in a book are the author’s summary as to how they understand it, it may be not your understanding
  • Studying is getting an answer to the question being asked
  • During the exam, underling key words in the question, it is imperative that you answer the question. What specifically is being asked here? Nothing is as frustrating to a ‘Correctioner’ when the question that was asked is not answered
  • Work smarter, not harder
  • If you get an examination blank (caused by ‘crapping’ study time the night before an examination), just write anything at all, keep writing and eventually you will be able to remember everything you have studied relevant to the  question

The Professor sounded very passionate and enthusiastic about studying. It was his believe that many students did not know how to study effectively. Most are probably reading, reading, reading, not summarizing and more importantly not asking the question that could be asked in an examination and then answering it.

This is a once in a life-time examination (whatever the examination is). it is an opportunity to tell the ‘Correctioner’ all you know about something in  away that they understand it and can believe that you know about it…all leading to the job you want.

Study cleverly in 40-45 minute periods, taking 10-15 breaks. Do this three times and then take an extended 45-60 minute break.

Enjoy the study and the lead up to the examinations and as the examination gets closer, slow down ease down on the study, relax and look forward