How to ACE your Christmas Exams

How to ACE your Christmas Exams

First, Second and Fifth years; you will be commencing your Christmas exams soon. In the case of Second and Fifth years, it is another step towards your State exams next year and of course you want to put on a good show for work done over the last four months. Consequently, your preparation needs to start now for these exams. If you have very little revision done up to now, it’s not too late to salvage a decent percentage as you head into the second term. It is never too late to start revising. Here are ‘Six of the best’ tips to ready yourself for the upcoming challenge:

  1. Set up a ‘Lifestyle Study Timetable’.

You need to put some kind of a plan in place for the next few weeks and I believe the ‘Lifestyle Study Timetable’ fits that bill. In summary, draw out a weekly timetable containing thirty minute study blocks each tagged with a five minute break after each one. Each block will contain a topic from one of your subjects. Prior to entering topics required to be revised; enter your school times and all leisure activities or events you will be involved in that week. Keep some catch-up blocks free each weekend in case plans change. It is better to have a plan that may need tweaking than no plan at all.

  1. Consolidate.

I would advise you, at this point, to summarise the main topics you have studied since September. You need to be realistic what you can get covered in a couple of weeks, while still having to attend school every day. Your teacher should be able to give you a broad outline of the main topics for consideration for this exam. After Christmas, you can take on the full course with a new timetable in preparation for the summer exams.

  1. Summarise.

Start writing out summaries in your own words, whether this is from notes your teacher has given you or your text book. I am a firm believer in having your own set of notes that you can read and understand easily. As with any exam, you do not want to be trawling through pages of notes as deadline day looms. Bullet points, postits, pocket notebooks and flash cards are great companions for these summaries. Put good habits in place now.

  1. Tend to all Subjects.

It is important not to neglect the subjects that aren’t your favourite or that you may not be doing so well in. The first piece of homework you tackle every evening should be from these subjects and they should also get more time (blocks) on your ‘Lifestyle Study Timetable’. You are better off in the long run to have the majority of your scores around the middle as opposed to having very high and very low percentages across a mix of subjects. Focus on your weaknesses, as it is likely your talents in the other subjects will balance grades out. This also applies within subjects. Getting very low scores in certain subjects can really drain the confidence and leave you wondering “Where do I go from here”?

  1. Listing and Ticking.

List out the set of topics (subject by subject) you plan to cover for these exams onto an A3/A4 sheet. Put an ‘S’ beside a given topic when summarised and tick it off when you feel confident you could answer a potential exam question on it. Having these lists on your wall will provide an added incentive to get more done. Ticking off each list and watching the workload shrink will help you feel so much better about how your revision is progressing.

  1. Build Yourself Up.

Eating well is important as your body is more inclined to break down with colds, flu’s and bugs at this time of year. It will be really difficult to do any constructive preparation if you develop that niggling cold or sore throat. In my opinion the best foods to enhance your system at this time of year are porridge, lemon/orange juice, hot soups, curries, stews, hot roast dinners, mugs of hot drinks and of course loads of water, to name but a few. Sugary cereals or Energy/Fizzy drinks will never improve your health or help illness resistance. Get your parents on board here making sure they have stocked up the nutritional and warm homely winter foods to get you through to the last exam.

Finally, put a good solid effort into your revision over the next few weeks and you can relax then and enjoy Christmas with your family and friends. Your endeavours will be worth it when you see your grades being posted out in January. Take pride in your work at school, just as your parents take so much pride in everything you do.

Joe 🙂

More details about how to purchase ‘How to ACE the Leaving Certificate’ and Joe’s ever popular ACE Maths Solution Books are on his website

ACE Solution Books Awarded ‘Best in Class’ by All-Ireland Business Foundation (AIBF)

Joe McCormack, a resident of Canterbrook Navan, Founder of ACE Solution Books and ACE Tuition, recently received an All-Star Accreditation for ‘Thought Leadership in Education and Career Development’ at the All-Ireland Business Awards on 12th September 2019. Joe’s business, ACE Solution Books, has grown rapidly over the last number of years where he provides clear and detailed exam paper solutions for Junior and Leaving Certificate students and their teachers. He has combined this with ongoing career support for both parents and students on social media nationwide. Joe has a unique understanding of the struggles that students and their parents encounter during their secondary school journey.

Speaking at the event, Kieran F. Ring, CEO Global Institute of Logistics, Deputy Chairperson Adjudication Panel said; “Joe McCormack of ACE Solution Books has successfully navigated three rounds of auditing which proved his performance, trust and customer-centricity. The auditing process has left us in no doubt as to Joe McCormack’s suitability for Business All-Star accreditation and his inclusion in the Register of Irish Business Excellence (TRIBE).

His application, supported by references, several interviews and independent ratings from the ‘mystery shopper’ process left the adjudication panel in no doubt that Joe and ACE Solution Books is richly deserving of this accreditation. We would like to extend our sincere congratulations to him and wish him and his team every success for the future”.

In response to the announcement Joe McCormack said, “I would like to express my sincere gratitude for being accredited as a Thought Leader in Education and Career Development. Achieving All-Star accreditation is a great source of pride for me and my business. I now look forward to continuing to meet and indeed exceed the standards set by the All-Star programme. The process which led to this accreditation was quite rigorous; the structure of the competition required me to put my brand story on paper and gave me the opportunity to reflect on my business, its growth strategy and above all the products and packages I offer.

The opportunity to hear first-hand feedback from my Judge-Mentor, my existing customers and suppliers through the reference module combined with the results from the ‘mystery shopper’ round was invaluable. I would like to thank all at the competition for making the effort to listen to my story, understand and accredit the business”.

Joe has just launched ACE Tuition where Maths, English and Irish are now being taught by Joe’s expert team of teachers in both Navan and Ratoath. A third strand, ACE Career Coaching will be launched in late autumn, where both students and adults will be offered tailored career packages to suit their needs. Full details of all strands are currently available on the company’s website

ACE Solution Books, accredited as best in class, is now included in the 2019-20 All-Stars Role of Honour. This list is published annually to coincide with the All-Ireland Business Summit Finals which will take place at Croke Park on April 30th, 2020.

Left to Right: Dr. Briga Hynes, University of Limerick, Chairperson Adjudication Panel; Mr. Joe McCormack, ACE Solution Books; Ms. Elaine Carroll, CEO of All Ireland Business Foundation.

The Practicalities of the CAO System – You Always Have Options…

The Practicalities of the CAO System – You Always Have Options…

My Top Twenty Tips for Keeping the Fire in Your Business

All, here are my best twenty insights to keep your business firing through good times and bad:

1. Stay positive. There will be plenty of days when you feel nothing is going well. Stay in the moment and try to do the next task well.

2. Talk to people. Telling someone about your business or latest project will give you a lift.

3. Improve your website. There are always enhancements to be made on your window to the world.

4. Take a break. If you find something isn’t productive, go away and come back to it later.

5. Take risks. You have to speculate to accumulate seems to be true in my experience.

6. Put yourself out there. Use every mechanism to spread the word on your products.

7. Provide Info. Giving free useful knowledge to potential customers will build links and trust.

8. Take a two week holiday. Totally switch off at least once during the year.

9. Diversify. See what add ons similar to your products you can bring to market.

10. Put a mantra on your wall. Use motivational techniques to drive yourself.

11.Ask customers. Talk to customers in relation to what they actually want. Take feedback.

12. Build a database. Create a list of recurring customers.

13. Play to your strengths. Work early or stay up late depending on when you peak.

14. Shop around. Cut costs by searching out the cheapest supplier at the right quality for your product.

15. Become the expert. Really know your field being ready to field questions at all times.

16. Focus on yourself. I think looking too much at the competition can Increase self doubt.

17. Plan a timeline. Write a calendar of upcoming events/announcements for your business.

18. Collaborate. If there is someone you can work with to spread the risk, do so.

19. Surround yourself with people you can trust. You will have more confidence in what you offer if trust is prevalent.

20. Create a tick list. Ticking off tasks completed will give you a great sense of satisfaction.

Joe McCormack (Career Coach, Teacher and Author)

© Joe McCormack 2019



Framework for New Junior Cycle

Link for Framework for New Junior Cycle (Click below):

The ACE Exam Day Quick Reference Guide

The ACE Exam Day Quick Reference Guide

With hours to go, thoughts of both Parents and Students now turn to sitting down for exams; here is a list that you can have a glance at before setting off on the morning of each exam. It is important to get your brain into exam mode in order to exact the maximum out of each paper. The below list will help you get organised and put you in the right head space:

  • Do your best – that is all that is expected of you.
  • Get to the exam hall at least fifteen minutes before each exam.
  • Be fully aware of the start and finish time of each exam.
  • Read the instructions carefully on every single paper.
  • You cannot leave during the first thirty or the last ten minutes of each exam.
  • Prepare for a longer exam paper than any of the ones you have sat during school time.
  • Make sure you have plenty of pens, pencils, rulers, etc.
  • Phones, books and notes are all forbidden in the exam hall.
  • Use the toilet before entering the exam hall.
  • Answer your best question first to settle the nerves.
  • Take your time when reading each question.
  • Attempt all parts of every question asked.
  • If you make a mistake, draw a line through, so it is still readable.
  • Questions answered, even if cancelled out, must be corrected.
  • Check that you have answered all parts of all questions.
  • Make sure to include all extra pages used e.g. graph paper etc#
  • Place twice as much emphasis on ten markers than fives etc (twice as much time also)
  • Carefully label any diagrams you draw or use.
  • Layout your paper well. You can save the trees in later life.
  • Do not repeat yourself in a question.
  • Skip a line or two after each full question.
  • Remember that any reasonable attempt will get you some marks.
  • Bring some sweets and water into the exam hall.
  • Focus on your own exam paper not your friends efforts beside you.
  • Don’t panic if you don’t understand a question at first.
  • Eat good meals before and after each exam.
  • If you run out of paper, ask for more from the superintendent.
  • Think how your answers will sound to someone else reading it.
  • Spend appropriate time on a question depending on marks allocated.
  • Try and write clearly especially in subjects with a lot of writing.
  • Answer the exact question that you are being asked on the paper.
  • Go into each exam with a positive and determined attitude.
  • Put a ‘*’ on questions you didn’t finish and revisit at the end.
  • Show all rough work for each question on your answer book.
  • A labelled picture/diagram can explain better than words.
  • Scribble down notes if you happen to run out of time.
  • Stay until the end of all your exams.
  • Do your best!

Ten Admin checks to do before entering the Exam Hall:

If you are just about to sit your Junior or Leaving Certificate exams, the following administration information is certainly worth a quick read beforehand. The more familiar you are with exam hall procedures, the more you can focus on your own game plan:

  1. Be very clear on the timing of each exam.
  2. Get there early on the first day of your exams to find out where to put your school bag and what centre (exam hall) you are sitting in.
  3. When you sit down each day, double check you have the correct paper and label in front of you. At Leaving Cert level, you can change from one level to another on the morning of the exam but this does not come recommended, as you have spent considerable time preparing for a specific level.
  4. You cannot bring any notes, school bags, phones or materials into the exam hall with you. You should just bring in your pens, instruments and some water/sweets.
  5. Listen to the superintendents’ instructions carefully at the start of each exam, as there may be corrections to be made to the exam paper or other announcements.
  6. Be aware that Higher, Ordinary and Foundation Papers may finish at different times.
  7. You will not be allowed enter the exam hall once thirty minutes from the official start time of the exam has elapsed.
  8. If you take paper one at higher level for a subject, you must take paper two at higher level also. The same obviously applies to Ordinary and Foundation levels.
  9. You can obtain a copy of the exam paper from the school authorities after the exam is over. Each exam paper will be uploaded to the examinations website soon after each exam anyway.
  10. Ensure you write your exam number on each script you use and be sure to hand up all writing material. Joe.

More details about how to purchase ‘How to ACE the Leaving Certificate’ for all subjects and Joe’s ever popular ‘ACE Maths Solution Books’ for the Junior and Leaving Certificate are on his Facebook page and website Pick up your copy today!