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The Psychological Society of Ireland,
Floor 2, Grantham House,
Grantham Street, Dublin 8, D08 W8HD.

 

30th May 2013 - Press release


Psychological Society of Ireland offers advice to Junior and Leaving Certificate students

 

With the Junior and Leaving Certificate exams commencing next Wednesday, the Psychological Society of Ireland (PSI) is offering some last minute advice and tips to students due to sit exams. With so much pressure and hype around the Junior and Leaving Certificates, the PSI is advising students to be positive, organised and, in as far as possible, to relax. The PSI’s advice is as follows:

  • Look at exams as opportunities to show what you know or have learned rather than as tests of what you do not know. This change in the way you look at things is important because it encourages you to take appropriate actions, for example to check that you can recall the contents of your summary sheets without the aid of notes, rather than to worry yourself to the point of illness;



  • Study regularly and briefly - rather than "cramming" at the last minute. Try to study in blocks of time which do not exceed your concentration span. For example, break up a study session into periods of about 50 minutes each. For each one, write down your specific question at the top of the page and insert relevant information underneath. Then, at the end of the session, put your summary notes aside and spend about 5 minutes trying to recall what you have learned. Ask yourself: "What specifically did I learn from this study session?"  This quick review, which is called "overlearning", will log it in to your memory;



  • Try to establish control over the exam situation. Firstly, equip yourself with knowledge about the nature and location of the exam.  In addition, you must learn to control your own behaviour and to ignore what other people do in the exam. For example, do not look around you in the exam-hall when the papers are handed out and do not pay any attention to students who request extra paper from the exam supervisors. Remember that it is the quality rather than quantity of the answer that attracts good marks. In any case, many "hand raisers" write on only one side of a page or perhaps skip every second line of their answer book. So, be selfish in an exam - ignore everyone else.

 

The night before an exam can be a worrying time for students but with these last minutes tips from the PSI, students can prepare themselves in the best way possible:

  • Make sure that you know the date, time and exact location of the exam;
  • Glance over previous years' exam papers in this subject in order to get a flavour of the structure of the paper and the type of questions usually asked;
  • Familiarise yourself with the number of questions you will have to answer, how long to allocate to each question and the length of time that is available for the entire exam;
  • Read over your summary sheets for each major topic or theme and test your ability to recall the material in them. Check that you can remember the links and the shorthand that you use;
  • For each topic, make sure that you know what key points you wish to make about the topic and what evidence you can use in support of them;
  • Pack all your essential equipment for the exam such as pens, pencils, ruler, calculator, geometry set and so on, into your bag and make sure to have your exam number. Remember you will not be allowed to bring your ‘phone in with you, so wear a watch;
  • Whether wearing a school uniform or your own plain clothes, lay them out for the following day. Where possible, pick comfortable clothes with several layers (in case the hall is cold or too hot);
  • Resist the temptation to study late into the night on the evening before an exam. Last minute cramming is not only exhausting - it can also lead to confusion and possible "exam blanks'" on the following day. Going for a relaxing walk is a useful thing to do on the night before an exam. It is also useful to have a ‘wind down’ routine, for example, take a bath with some lavender oil in it, followed by a cup of cocoa or hot chocolate;
  • Set your alarm early so that you will have plenty of time to get ready for the exam.  If you cannot fall sleep, or are tossing and turning all night, don’t despair. This restlessness simply means that you are concerned about your performance and this is natural. Your body is a self-correcting system which will restore your sleep balance over the next few nights. To help you sleep, some basic rules apply: Avoid fizzy drinks or those that contain caffeine for 4 hours prior to going to bed and avoid heavy meals within 3 hours prior to bedtime. Also, if you make a list of tasks that you need to do in the morning, rather than waiting until you go to bed to start planning, it will help to clear your mind for sleep;
  • Exam ‘post mortems’ are not useful …once each exam is finished, thinking about it can change nothing and will simply distract you from what still has to be done. File each completed subject away in your memory by removing all the books for that subject to a separate area from where you study. This will give you a sense of satisfaction and also a sense of reward when the completed pile starts to grow!

 

 

If you are a parent whose child is due to sit the Junior or Leaving Certificate then it is important that you support your child. Being aware of the PSI’s advice will assist parents in offering support and advice to an anxious teenager. 

 

Professor Aidan Moran, Registered Member of the PSI, who is the author of the best-selling e-book Learn to Study states, “Parents can support their children best at this stressful time in three ways: First, they should encourage students to regard exams as opportunities to gain marks rather than as tests designed to find out what they don't know. Second, parents should avoid doing post-mortems with their children after the exam – it’s neither helpful nor accurate (as students don’t always remember what they wrote in an exam). Finally, parents should praise their children for doing their best and for staying in the exam until it’s over.”

Ends.

Articles appeared in the Irish Independent (click here) and Irish Times (click here) mentioning the PSI's tips.

Prof. Aidan Moran was also interviewed on Clare FM and Waterford's WLRFM


 

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