Joe’s Jotter: ACE Guide to Exam Prep From Home (Feature 1 of 6)

Getting used to the new norm of being at home more regularly than is proving challenging for both students and parents. This feature contains recommendations and practical advice for both, in order to get that revision routine going and exacting the maximum from this unusual period. Being at home preparing notes and revision is alien to most students, unless you are home schooled. Always remember that you haven’t been taught or asked to structure and balance your day like this before, given that your usual weekly routine consists of school, homework, sleep, repeat. The goal of these feature articles, which come in six parts spread over the year, is to provide you with tools and ideas to help you get organised, advise you on motivation and explore the role your parents may have at this time.

Your Plan for Tomorrow

From an exam student’s point of view, the first thing you need to look at each night is your plan for the next day. If your plan is to ‘do a bit of study’, a large part of the day could well pass you by. At this stage you need to develop your own workable home routine. To do this, I would recommend getting up at the same time, showering and having a structured plan for revision, meals and breaks to facilitate that pattern you need. Organising yourself the night before is key. Knowing what to expect the next day will make the process so much easier. Being able to work alone (including from home) will become an even more important skill as third level institutions increasingly develop their online learning platforms.

Revising at home for a longer period than your used to presents its own set of challenges. You will need to investigate new ways of finding and using material online. You will probably need to become familiar with new technology, as teachers strive to communicate with you. You will definitely need to be more self-disciplined and more efficient at managing your time than ever before. During holidays or non-school times, there will be no school timetable to follow, so you will need to set, pace and organise your own learning. If you can manage to embrace and overcome some of these Initial hurdles, you are already halfway there. Change is challenging but can often turn out to be a worthwhile. You will need to learn to work alone more and challenge yourself and your motivations. Hopefully you will look back later and view this change as a positive period in your life. Without knowing it and as we speak, you are effectively turning yourself into independent thinkers and learners, and these skills will stand to you at third level and in the world of work to come.


Your Revision Area

Being at home more has placed more emphasis on your place of study. Ask yourself the following questions; Is my revision area free from distractions, comfortable, warm and spacious? Is there natural light in the room and is the desk and chair I am using the right height for me? Is my study desk full of ‘non educational material’ or is it clutter free? Is this a place to prepare notes and learn? Your answers to these questions will indicate if you need to make changes to this area or not.  Up to now, your study area was only used for three to four hours each evening, but now it may be required more, and you need to ensure you are happy with its setup. Ideally, I would set up my revision area outside the bedroom, in order to disassociate sleep with revision. Depending on your circumstances, all of the above may not be possible. Link in with your parents to try and get as many of these elements in place as you can.

To view last weeks feature on ‘being more successful in Maths’, click here.

I will publish the five subsequent parts of this feature at Christmas, Mid-term and Easter times. Stay tuned for more useful Insights as the weeks progress… Joe


More details about Joe’s ACE Tuition Classes (Maths and English), ACE Career Coaching, and his ever popular ACE Maths Solution Books for the Junior and Leaving Certificate can be found via the links below. Be sure to pick up your copy today!

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© Joe McCormack 2020