An Introduction to Studying for 1st and 2nd Years : How Best to Start Studying.
For most of you this is only your first or second year in secondary school, so the idea of studying is something that’s still new and strange to you. No one ever really sits you down and tells you exactly how to do it, so a lot of the time, once your first set of big exams come around, you can be quite lost as to where to go next or what to do. I’ve put together a few tips on how to get the process going and to set you up for studying well in the long-term, so you’ll be well able for the bigger exams in 3rd and 6th year.
Because you don’t have any huge exams coming up just yet, you don’t need to give yourself a big workload or stress yourself out. Try studying small bits of information at a time to introduce yourself to the process.
For example, in the evening after you finish your homework, pick a subject to try and study. Say you pick Irish, try and spend 20-30 minutes studying an irregular verb like “abair” in the past, present and future tense. Obviously only study something you’ve covered in class, there’s no point in tackling something new by yourself.
Make a plan/timetable
A study plan or timetable can make it much easier to study, especially before the exams. You can print out a template timetable here.
Then fill in each empty box with the times you plan to study (try 20-30 minutes, e.g. 16:00-16:25) and the subjects you’ll be study within those times on those days. This makes it easier to commit to studying a certain subject and you’ll save time too because you won’t be fretting about what to study next, it’ll be all laid out in front of you.
It’s important to stick to the plan too so that you don’t miss out on studying a certain subject.
This is a great way of helping you remember information. Buy yourself a nice bright highlighter and when you’re studying a certain topic, highlight the words or phrases you think are important, this will make the words jump out at you when you revise them next and you’ll remember them easier because of this. For example, if you’re studying Science, you would highlight a sentence such as “The normal temperature of an adult human body is 37⁰C”, so that this sentence and this piece of information will stick in your mind, because it’s an important thing to remember.
Practice past exam Questions
Be ready for the questions that you will face Having access to all the past questions by topic from the last ten years lets you pick out obvious trends and be ready for the kinds of questions that will be asked. A BASIC account only gives you the last two years questions in each topic.
Your teachers make your tests using the questions on Studyclix PLUS+ access gives you all marking schemes to all questions. This lets you practice questions and then quickly see where you’re going wrong and how to improve your answering style.
Flashcards can be really a helpful way of studying because they break down big chunks of information in to small, condensed pieces. You should be able to buy some flashcards (coloured ones help your brain remember better so I would get some coloured ones.) in any good newsagents or stationary shop.
Then, when you’re studying a subject, make out a flashcard on a certain topic and write only bullet points or vital pieces of info on it. I’ll take Science for example again, take a card and write say, “Food” at the top. Then on this card just write little points on Food, no long sentences, just small important points, like the macronutrients (Fat, Protein, Carbs, etc.), a quick word on how to test for these nutrients, e.g. “Fat = Brown Paper Test”.
Do your homework
Doing your homework is one of the best methods of study, so don’t neglect it. Even if you fail to do any other form of studying (hopefully this won’t be the case), if you’ve done all your homework throughout the year, you should still be able to do reasonably well. The homework you’re given is to prepare you for the exams really so if you get a question to do at home, it’s really like practising for the exam because a similar question could come up in the exam paper!
A neat work/study area is really important when it comes to studying well. If you’re trying to study in a places where there are books, papers, folders, cups, pens, etc. everywhere, then your brain will find it harder to focus on what you’re studying. If everything is neat and tidy however, it will be much easier to concentrate and you’ll feel better and more focused in a clean environment.
Nothing’s going in?
Some people just can’t study by looking at books all evening, and that’s pretty normal. It just means you’re not a very visual learner, meaning you don’t learn well by reading or seeing things. This means you need to try different tactics of studying.
Try watching videos of a certain topic instead. There are so many resources on the internet now that almost every topic imaginable can be taught over YouTube. You could also try drawing large, colourful diagrams or mind maps to make the topic clearer to you, instead of just reading words off a piece of paper.
Studying for hours on end with no break is useless. You need to take regular breaks. The human brain can only concentrate for 25 minutes at a time so any longer than this and the information you’re trying to learn just won’t go in properly. Take a walk, watch a little TV or have a cup of tea and then come back to it. You’ll feel more refreshed and ready to learn more effectively.
Best of luck with the Study!
Eimear and the Studyclix Team