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Study Skills

An Introduction to Study for 1st Years
How to Start Studying for your Christmas tests

Start small

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 to study. Say you pick Irish, try to 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. 16:00-16:20) and the subjects you’ll be studying 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 thinking 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.

Highlight/Underline (using your physical textbooks at home)

This is a great way of helping you to 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 more easily. 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.


Flashcards can be a really helpful way to study because they break down big chunks of information into small, condensed pieces. You can buy some flashcards (coloured ones help your brain remember better so I would get some coloured ones) in any good newsagents or stationery 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 information on it. I’ll take Science for example again, take a card and write “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

Students must have a homework copy for each individual subject. All homework is to be completed into these copies (unless asked otherwise by their teacher).

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 actually like practising for the exam because a similar question could come up on the exam paper!

Stay organised

A neat work/study area is really important when it comes to studying well. If you’re trying to study in a place 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.

Take breaks

Studying for hours on end with no break is futile. 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.

Put your phone away while studying!!!

If you are checking your phone every 5 minutes you won’t be able to study effectively so leave it in another room until you’re finished.

Good luck with your Christmas tests

Creagh College,
Co. Wexford,
Y25 V6Y9.

Waterford & Wexford Educational Training Board
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