Joe’s Jotter: Key Pointers to Help Students Settle Back into Revision

Hello Students,

As we reach the end of our first month in school, you may be struggling to return to some kind of a revision routine. Here are six useful signposts for all students to get you back into the swing of completing homework and revising classwork…

  1. Take regular breaks.

Yes, really! Taking short five-minute breaks every thirty minutes should keep you fresh and focused. However, make sure that five minutes doesn’t turn into an hour! Go for a short walk, call up a friend or have a snack and then come back to your work on time. Some studies have found that having a natter with friends can have a positive effect on memory and that laughing increases serotonin (the body’s chemical that makes you happy). It is important to leave your study area during your breaks to get a change of perspective and return with renewed energy for the next session. Enjoyable breaks will allow you to become more efficient with your study blocks. Setting mini targets like completing a long exam question followed by a prolonged break is a smart way to operate.

  1. Stay alert and interested.

When reading, it is a good idea to make notes or highlight key terms. I believe you should always revise with a pen at hand. I feel that just by reading a piece of text, you are not actively engaging with it. In my experience, you will remember more by summarising it or even just by making red or green sub notes on the page. This method keeps the brain tuned in to the task at hand. Other learning methods you might consider for variety include YouTube videos, online quizzes, or creating mind maps. If you find yourself struggling to stay alert, you are probably tired, and it may be time for a break or retirement for the evening. 

  1. Be ruthless with your notes.

Many students go to educational institutions after Christmas to boost their store of materials and, of course, their confidence. However, I have seen many students over the years become overwhelmed with too much material and they just end up getting swamped, not knowing where to start. In subject areas you find difficult, reduce your material into manageable, thought provoking snippets. If you take notes in class, make sure to date and keep them for revision later. Dig out last year’s material requiring revision at this point. It is important to keep a record of what topics you have done in class and how long your teacher has spent on them. This will ensure you are clear on what has been covered and what still needs to be investigated. Being persistently consistent in relation to your notes is a big factor in doing well in exams.

  1. Set goals and keep records.

Setting goals will help you monitor your study and will give you something to work towards. If you under perform in a class test, set a mini goal for your next test to improve by a certain percentage. In your school journal, write down all your goals and check them off as you complete them – name it a ‘Junior Cycle or Leaving Cert bucket list’. Ultimately, use long-term goals to motivate you to ACE the short-term ones. Long-term goals might include a points target in your Leaving Certificate, a possible trip to third level or scoring that rewarding job later. A short-term goal will help you get where you want to be long term. Reviewing the success of your short-term goals every two weeks will give you a sense of achievement. An example of a short-term goal could involve summarising and understanding a chapter from your book and completing a past exam question relating to it. All my successful students over the years have created plans and set goals for themselves.

  1. Earn your rewards.

Don’t forget to ‘have a life’ as you develop a routine that works for you. Reward yourself after a long study session with a trip to the cinema or visit to your friends. Ultimately, reward yourself with breaks, taking a reasonable one after every good hour’s work. There is nothing wrong with the odd bar of chocolate, ice-cream, or packet of gummy bears; everyone who has done something constructive deserves a little thank you. Earn rewards with each thorough revision session you complete. This will Increase motivation and improve your overall revision output.

  1. Start thinking about Past Exam papers.

Those of you in Exam years: Are you familiar with the layout of each exam paper and its marking scheme? If not, you need to get checking. You can source all the past exam papers in the ‘Examinations Material Archive’ section of the website. If you are doing exams in 2023 and haven’t a set of exam papers for each subject, don’t delay, get them today. A large part of your revision should be to assess and practice answering questions from past exam papers (under time pressure) on the topics you have covered in class. Remember also that each subject’s exam paper is different, so you need to familiarise yourself in each subject. You need to find out the exact layout and style of each individual paper. Is there a choice in sections? How many questions do you need to attempt in each section? Are there short/long questions or both? And most importantly, how long can you plan to spend on each individual question? Being super familiar with paper layout is key. Joe

‘Eat that Elephant, chunk by chunk, bit by bit, step by step.’

More details about Joe’s Maths Tuition Classes 2023 for 5th & 6th Year (Leaving Certificate Students) and his Award Winning ACE Maths Solution Books can be found via the below:

ACE Maths Classes:

ACE Maths Solution Books:



Joe’s Jotter: Finding savings heading ‘Back to School’

Heading back to school each September is an expensive time of year for Parents. Parents have certain fixed costs in their head they know need sorting, but I think it’s the costs the appear in the first few weeks that are unexpected are the toughest to meet. Examples of these include requirements for specific classes, sport items, book rentals, deposits, or items they assumed their child had, that may now be lost or damaged. In Maths, for instance, purchase of a new calculator, a hardback for notes, log tables and a Maths set are required, and these costs can be omitted from one’s planning at the start of the year.

On average, Parents spend over €1,400 to send each child back to secondary school, and according to research, over 60% of parents struggle with these costs. The issue here is that most of these costs cannot be avoided. It was encouraging to see the Minister introduce free schoolbooks for all primary school students from this September. I would hope that something similar will be introduced at Secondary level to alleviate the costs for Parents there also.

My Best Cost Saving Tips for returning to School 2023 

  1. Purchase Second-hand Books

When we were young, getting a schoolbook was such a novelty (independent of its quality). Books your child will use this year don’t need to be brand new. Investigating avenues for ‘not so new’ books with friends or Facebook groups will save you substantially on costs. Parents are only delighted to offload schoolbooks, knowing they won’t need them again and you may even get them for free. Most textbooks are available second hand now, with exam papers and workbooks probably required to be bought new. Separately, always check if your retailer is offering a free book covering service for any new ones purchased with them.

  1. Bargain Around

When I go to purchase books or materials in a shop, I usually check will it be cheaper to buy online. Do a good search online and write down the cheapest cost (with postage) of each book. Ring the company and check to see if it’s possible to ‘pick up’ online orders to save on this postage. Write down the online cost per item and bring the list to the shops with you to discover which is cheaper. As with any purchase, planning is better than impulse buying and usually this strategy will save you a few reddys.

Buying slightly larger sizes in clothes and uniforms could mean your child gets an extra year out of them. Buy cheap – buy twice applies to many items a child will need for school. Items needs a certain level of robustness to be carted around in the school bag for the year.

  1. Allowances Available

Do you qualify for any of the ‘Back to School’ allowances? The citizens information website is a brilliant resources to use during the year to find out what you might be entitled to. It is also kept very much up to date. Bus allowances could save you driving them to school each day. Talk to your friends about this one to see what allowances they are receiving, that you could qualify for as well.

  1. Budget out your Listings

Write out a list of what you need to buy for each child and the approximate cost of it. Budgeting for back to school means the money you have will be put to the best use. If you are technically minded, do the budget out on an excel spreadsheet. Putting away a small amount into the Post Office or Credit Union each week can accumulate into a nice sum come September time. It also looks good when you want to apply for a loan.

Making out a budget for August and September is prudent, ensuring that you build in a ‘Miscellaneous’ column for the unexpected costs I alluded to earlier. You are more likely to stick to a budget if you write or type it, and the advantage of having it on your laptop or PC is that you can adjust it and do basic calculations as you go. Be sure your child actually needs a book or an item of sports gear before budgeting for it.

  1. Technology Savings

Can you pass down any technology an older brother or sister may have used? Can you purchase a reconditioned laptop or tablet for them for use? My last iPhone was restored (via an online company) and has served me well over the last few years. There are loads of websites and stores that offer reconditioned products now and if you can get some kind of a warranty with them, it may be a good euro saving option.

  1. ‘Bulk up’ on Materials for the Year

Instead of buying three black, blue, and red pens, it may be a good idea to buy a pack of ten of each. This principle applies to all stationary. You know your child will need plenty of stationary during the year, so it makes total sense to buy in bulk and store somewhere safe where your child can draw on them as they need. My own students usually lose their calculator at least once over their Junior or Senior Cycle. Buying two may not yield savings now, but it will give you the peace of mind of not having to find the exact same model before their Maths test in November, for example.

Bringing your teenager with you for the ‘School shop’ in August and asking them how many of each item they would go through each year is wise. The German multiples may be handy for these ‘bulk’ shops, though be careful not to come out with a hedge trimmer and a hammer as well  – lol. Another point of note (for those of you who have more than one child in the same school) is to think about what they can share. Again, it is better to include them in this discussion, given that they will be the ones sharing the materials. Ask them what idea’s they may have on saving on school costs for the new year.

  1. Plan Snack, Break and Lunch Times

Again, it is a good idea to plan what your child would eat at both break and lunchtime, including them in the discussion again to prevent wastage. Make a list of foods they enjoy and will eat and stock up, ensuring you are encouraging as many healthy options as possible.

Savings can also be made by freezing any foods to be used in the next few months, as well as searching out non-perishables multi packs in your nearby chain store. Keep an eye out for the little ‘savings magazine’ in the supermarkets your visit during August and September in order to save yourself a few more bob. You can review school lunches and snacks again once Term 2 starts in January. The problem, as a I see it, with just giving them money for their lunch is that the local chipper will greatly benefit (and not exactly their health or overall nutrition) and indeed my old nemesis the ‘Chicken fillet roll’ will have a field day.

I know that many of you use excellent cost savings strategies yearly and I wish you luck now getting your child back to school for this new academic year. As I always say,  you can only do your best and knowing many of you, you are very much doing that. Thanks for reading. Joe.

More details about Joe’s Maths Tuition Classes 2023 for 5th & 6th Year (Leaving Certificate Higher Students) and his Award Winning ACE Maths Solution Books for all students, can be found via links below:

ACE Maths Tuition Classes:

ACE Maths Solution Books: