End Games: Preparing Well for Final Exams Some strategies for 11th hour exam prep

End Games: Preparing Well for Final Exams Some strategies for 11th hour exam prep
2013-05-01 14:01

Based on an article by Dana S. Dunn, Ph.D.

Across the country the end of the academic year is approaching. So now, many are faced with the daunting prospect of getting the most out of the final weeks of studying for exams. So here are a few suggestions for students to do some last minute pedagogical triage as they prepare for their aptly named “finals.”

Know where you stand in a class.
You should know more or less what your grade is up to now. When I say that, I also mean factoring out wishful thinking (e.g., “Although I’ve not earned an ‘A’ on any test in this class this semester, I think I can get one on the final if I just study a little bit more”) and divine intervention. Be as objective as you can about your grade. If you don’t know where you stand — and in my experience, a surprising number of students have no clue — go see your teacher/tutor now to find out.

Plan your study time.
How many final exams will you have? When are they scheduled? Create a study plan so that you spread out sessions for each exam across however many days are available. I think it is a better idea to study for one test for time, take a short break, and then switch to studying for another test, and so on. Cramming for one test only before taking is usually not a good idea because you lose focus and interest quickly. Mix it up a bit.

Modify your study time based on where you stand.
If you know, for example, that you have a solid grade in one class then study less for it. Use the extra time now available to prepare for an exam in a class where you are more concerned about how you will do (i.e., you want to pass!) or where your grade is borderline, say, between a C+ and a B -.

If necessary, satisfice.
If you think extra study for one exam (say, history) is likely to lead to a better final grade outcome than extra study for another (say, geography), then hedge your bets and focus more study time on the former. Note that I am not advocating that you abandon studying for a course if you are doing poorly in it—again, you want to pass.

Don’t study in popular places.
If you know your pals are going to be studying in the library or the campus centre or the coffee shop, don’t go there. You can socialize and commiserate or celebrate when the exams are done. Social support is nice, but not when it eats into the time you need to read, think, and study key concepts that will be on the exams. Study groups, too, are only a good idea if you are meeting for a specified amount of time (e.g., an hour or two) and amiable chit-chat is brief at the start. If you think the group is going to spend too much time shooting the breeze skip the meeting and study on your own.

Put yourself in the examiner’s place.
As you study, ask yourself this question, “If I was setting the exam, what sort of questions would I ask? What are the key ideas in the course? What’s most important?” This mental exercise can often pay dividends. Reviewing with these kinds of questions in mind is likely to help you happen on at least some of the questions that will appear in some form on the final (and in any case, thinking about a course’s main points won’t hurt you).

Take care of yourself.
All nighters are a waste of time—they make you more tired and they certainly aren’t going to improve your well-being or mental acumen. So, get a good night’s sleep before an exam. Eat before an exam, but not too much, and don’t skip breakfast, especially if you have an early morning exam. A teacher I always encouraged his students to bring a candy bar to the final for a burst of energy mid-test. Not a bad idea. If you can, exercise during finals week. Take some breaks between rounds of studying – go outside, meet a friend, go for a walk.

What’s done is done.
When you turn it an exam paper, forget about it for the time being. You can’t change anything once you finish the test. Focus on preparing for your next exam. If there is no next exam, then go do something fun or get some rest or sleep. Don’t ruminate about grades. If need be, there will be time for that later.

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6 Tips to Better Writing Skills

6 Tips to Better Writing Skills
2013-01-24 13:09

In a world where tweets and texting rules, the art of writing is feeling the pinch. If you have lol’ed and btw.’ed your way through life, writing essays, letters and reports can be a challenge. Improving your writing skills can be a real asset. When you are writing reports and essays, your skill as a writer determines your ability to effectively communicate your ideas. No matter how well you know your stuff, if you are not able to effectively communicate your ideas, you will not get the grades you deserve.

Writing well not only enables you to effectively communicate, it also saves time. When you can write quickly and concisely, you have more time to spend on constructing essays and answering questions. Good writing skills will be a huge asset when you have to deal with the increased work volumes in high school and especially in college. Take a little time every day to work on your writing skills and soon you will be enjoying better grades!

Read more: The more you read, the better your spelling, vocabulary and sentence structures. Reading doesn’t have to be confined to academic texts; read whatever you find interesting. Look up words you don’t understand so you can improve your vocabulary too.

Keep it short and sweet: When it comes to writing, less really is more. Try to keep to one fact per sentence and write in a concise manner. While you may think that your teacher will be impressed by volume, you are sorely mistaken. Teachers have to mark many papers and those that take fewer sentences to state facts clearly will definitely come out on top!

It’s all in the planning: Make an outline for your essay before you write it. Be sure to include an introduction and a conclusion that outline the salient points. Knowing where you are going is the best way to clear, concise writing.

Editing helps: Once you have completed your writing task, it’s essential to edit it. If you are working on an assignment, read your piece aloud; you’ll be amazed at how different it sounds. It’s also best to edit your article the next day when you have a fresh perspective. If you are writing an exam, answer a couple of other questions and then come back to your essay and read it again.

Write first, then edit: This may sound intuitive, but if you have ever stared at a blank page and had no idea what to write, it means you are editing yourself before you’ve even begun. If you can talk, you can write—so just get it all down. It’s much easier to edit paragraphs you have already written than it is to edit your thoughts.

Get a tutor: if you are still struggling as a writer, you may need some help. A tutor will be able to identify which areas you need help with and give you exercises that help develop your writing skills. Learning to write well is an asset that will stand you in good stead throughout your academic and professional careers.

Need personalised one-to-one, in-home tutoring and grinds. Contact us by calling 087-6532955 or e:mail mward@hometuition.ie Website: www.hometuition.ie

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Seven-part Romeo & Juliet resource pack to share

Seven-part Romeo & Juliet resource pack to share
2012-09-26 15:10

Cork based Theatre Company, Corcadorca, is producing a seven-part Romeo & Juliet resource pack to share with secondary schools. Each of the 7 modules, will reveal the company’s activities as it prepares to stage Shakespeare’s tale of ill-fated lovers at Cork Opera House. The modules are free and may be accessed through here:- http://www.stream.ie/news/corcadorca/

We hope this resource pack will give Secondary Level Students an insight into the creative process of a professional theatre production, and perhaps a new perspective on Romeo and Juliet.

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GOOD LUCK FROM HOMETUITION.IE

GOOD LUCK FROM HOMETUITION.IE
2012-06-05 12:59

FOR ALL STUDENTS BEGINNING JUNIOR CERTIFICATE AND LEAVING CERTIFICATE EXAMS WE WISH YOU GOOD LUCK.

2012 Junior Certificate Timetable

2012 Junior Certificate Timetable

Leaving Certificate 2012 Timetable

Leaving Certificate 2012 Timetable

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Changes to the Leaving Cert Irish Exam

Changes to the Leaving Cert Irish Exam
2012-02-22 12:38

Students and parents be advised that there has been a significant change to the structure of the Irish Leaving Certificate Exam, with the allocation of marks for the Irish Oral increased from 25% to 40%. This is a massive shift in emphasis and is undoubtedly a great challenge for both students and teachers.

The Irish Oral has always been one of the toughest parts of the student’s exams and preparing for it can be very challenging. These changes will have a great impact on how students prepare for the exam. Other amendments such as the Poetry Reading section of the Oral Exam now carrying more marks (35 marks) than the written Poetry Question in Paper 2 (30 marks), illustrate a greater expectation for the students to concentrate on their spoken language in the classroom.

The duration of the Oral Test will still be 15 minutes. It will consist of four parts: Reception (5 marks), Poetry Reading (35 marks), Description of a Series of Pictures (80 marks) and Conversation (120 marks).

The introduction of a new section of the exam, Description of a Series of Pictures, is the most significant change to the structure of the Irish Oral. In this section, there are twenty A4 pages of pictures with a series of six pictures on each page. An A4 page will be chosen at random by the examiner in the exam. Students will be required to describe the series of pictures on the A4 page chosen. The students will be expected to ask the examiner questions based on the pictures in addition to answering questions posed to them based on the pictures. The twenty A4 pages have been available to the students to study since early 2011.

The addition of this section to the Oral demonstrates that proficiency is increasingly central to earning high marks on the Irish exam.

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A free service to teach children to read with phonics

A free service to teach children to read with phonics
2012-01-17 21:45

www.starfall.com systematic phonics approach is perfect for all ages and levels including pre-school, play school, montessori, junior infants and senior infants, home schooling, special needs education, and English language development (ESL).

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What is Dyspraxia?

What is Dyspraxia?
2011-12-17 19:14

What is Dyspraxia?

There have been many definitions of co-ordination disorders over the years including motor learning difficulty, sensory integrative dysfunction, developmental dyspraxia, developmental co-ordination disorder, clumsy child syndrome. They all centre on the same issue… Praxis enables the child to use his or her hands and body in a skilled and organise way, e.g. to hold and use pens and pencils, use scissors, dress independently, etc.

Dyspraxia is a specific disorder that affects the planning and organisation of motor task that, in turn, may result in motor clumsiness. Dyspraxia can be defined as difficulty in planning and carrying out skilled, non-habitual motor tasks in the correct sequence. Dyspraxia is NOT a primary problem in motor co-ordination but in formulating a plan of action. Dyspraxia is a more specific term that Developmental Co-ordination Disorder (DCD) and is likely to be a sub-type of DCD.

Common Signs and Symptoms of Dyspraxia/ Developmental Co-ordination Disorder

Signs that your child may have dyspraxia or DCD may include poor motor development and / or perceptual development, reduced attention and activity levels, behavioural issues, slower than expected language development / academic learning as well as poor application of learning, and / or poor postural control.

Hometuition.ie provides a personalised one-to-one, in-home tutoring service to students. For more information about the home tuition service log on to www.hometuition.ie or call Mike on 087-6532955 (e-mail mward@hometuition.ie).

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How to Help Your Child Learn to Read – 4

How to Help Your Child Learn to Read - 4
2011-12-03 20:06

As your child begins to develop competence with simple words you can help them along the way. We are surrounded by opportunities to learn words every day. Words like ‘Car’, ‘Park’, ‘Bus’, ‘Stop’, ‘Push’, ‘Pull’, ‘Exit’, ‘On’, ‘Off’ etc. The supermarket is full of words like ‘Eggs’, ‘Milk’, ‘Bread’, ‘Jam’, ‘Tea’. Make a game of learning new words every day to grow the ‘word bank’.

Soon your child will want to learn longer words… words with more than one syllable. Initially these words can be learned by adding smaller words together into what is known as compound words. For example, ‘in-to’, ‘car-pet’, ‘pig-tail’, ‘lady-bug’, ‘eye-lid’ etc. You can also look at simple two syllable words like ‘un-der’, ti-ger, sis-ter, bro-ther, pa-per, mar-ket. Gradually building syllables together to form larger words. ‘Un-der’ and ‘stand’ make ‘un-der-stand’ (3 syllables), add ‘mis’ to get ‘mis-un-der-stand’ (4 syllables) and even ‘mis-un-der-stand-ing’ (5 syllables).
Remember the Jam Sandwich game? Note every syllable follows the rule and must have at least one vowel.

Over 90% of words obey the rules we have presented here. The other 10% however are a little trickier. These words simply have to be learned. These tricky words include words that cannot be sounded out like ‘does’, ‘said’, ‘your’, ‘walk’, ‘eight’. One way to learn these words is to choose one or two ‘words of the week’ to specifically focus on. These words are usually learned by sight, so it is helpful if you write them out with your child frequently.

Now it is time to join your local library and the fun really starts. As your child starts to read books themselves they will encounter so many new words. Their natural curiosity and drive for independence will help them to learn so many new words. Be ready to answer their many questions. Get a child’s dictionary as they become more comfortable and take the time to teach them how to use it.

It’s a great idea to have a book case or shelf in the child’s room. Don’t wait until they are reading to do this… if you read to them when they are young and they have easy access to books that they find interesting, it helps develop their interest in reading. Books can be acquired for very little money in charity shops, book fairs etc. Also consider books for Christmas, Birthdays etc.

Hometuition.ie provides a personalised one-to-one, in-home tutoring service to students. For more information about the home tuition service log on to www.hometuition.ie or call Mike on 087-6532955 (e-mail mward@hometuition.ie).
*this article draws heavily on the book ‘101 ways to get your child to read’, by Patience Thompson (ISBN: 978-1-84299-671-3)

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What is Dyslexia

What is Dyslexia
2011-11-24 17:00

Developmental Reading Disorder (DRD) or Dyslexia is one of a group of disorders known as learning disabilities. Different learning disabilities affect reading, writing, listening, speaking or working with numbers. Dyslexia is the most common of the learning disability group.

Figures from the International Dyslexia Association show up to 10 percent of people are dyslexic. Famous people with the condition include Steve Jobs (CEO Apple), Boxer Muhammad Ali, Film maker Stephen Spielberg, former President of the USA John F Kennedy, Olympic gold medal swimmer Duncan Goodhew, Musician and former Beatle John Lennon, Entrepreneur Richard Branson.

A person with dyslexia has difficulty with language skills, especially reading, writing and spelling. There are different degrees of dyslexia and some people have problems with only one of these skills. Others can have difficulty with all the mentioned skills, and even have trouble with spoken language. These people may find it difficult to express themselves clearly or understand what other people say.

Dyslexia can also affect a person emotionally. Dyslexic children often get frustrated, think they are unable to learn, or even think that they are stupid. Specialists say children who feel this way are in danger of failure and depression. Most people with Dyslexia have normal intelligence, and many have above-average intelligence. The condition affects ‘information processing’ and does not interfere with one’s ability to think or to understand complex ideas.

What causes dyslexia is not yet fully understood, but some research concludes that there are differences in brain activity and development in dyslexic people when compared to non-dyslexic people. However, it is known that Dyslexia often runs in families.

Early signs of dyslexia include a delay in learning to speak and difficulty pronouncing words. While learning to read, children with dyslexia may struggle to recognise letters and/or to connect the letters with their sounds. They may also have difficulty learning or remembering numbers, colours, shapes or days of the week.

Older children may have difficulty learning languages, including Irish / Gaeilge or other foreign languages that the school offers. These children may read slowly, display reduced comprehension or have trouble remembering what they read. They may also struggle to recognise differences, and similarities, in words and letters.

There is no cure for Dyslexia, but people with the condition can still be successful learners. Experts say the most important thing is to find the condition at an early age. Specially trained tutors can use different techniques to help people with dyslexia to learn. Every person with DRD / Dyslexia requires a different strategy. An individual education plan should be created for each child with the condition. This education play may include extra learning assistance ( called remedial instruction ), private, individual tutoring, and/or special day classes.

More information on Dyslexia and the supports available can be found through organisations like the Dyslexia Association of Ireland.

Hometuition.ie provides a personalised one-to-one, in-home tutoring service to students. For more information about the home tuition service log on to www.hometuition.ie or call Mike on 087-6532955 (e-mail mward@hometuition.ie).

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How to Help Your Child Learn to Read – 3

How to Help Your Child Learn to Read – 3
2011-11-22 16:16

Your child needs that putting letters together can make words that have meaning. Start with simple three letter words. If the child has learned to sound the letters properly they will be able to work most of these words out.

Make note of all the words your child has learned. Write them using lower case letters on cards and keep them in a shoe box. This is your child’s ‘word bank’. Every time he/she learns a new word add it to the bank.

You can grow the word bank more rapidly by learning word groups, for example if the child learns cat, change the first letter for mat, sat, pat, bat. Don’t get too carried away with this, if you over-do it the benefit is lost so stick to groups of maximum five words.

When the child is comfortable with three letter words, try words with two consonants at the beginning, e.g. blot, clot, knot, swot, spot.

Every time your child learns a new word, discuss the meaning of the word to make sure he/she understands it. Words without meaning have no value.

Regularly go back into the bank and revise some words, or relearn them if he/she cannot work them out.

Consider rewards to help motivate your child to learn. Set targets, and give rewards based on achieving these targets, for example, achieving fifty words in the word bank, getting to one hundred words, twenty five-letter words etc. Try not to set targets that are too difficult because frustration will set in if the child feels he/she is not making progress fast enough or at all.

Hometuition.ie provides a personalised one-to-one, in-home tutoring service to students. For more information about the home tuition service log on to www.hometuition.ie or call Mike on 087-6532955 (e-mail mward@hometuition.ie).

*this article draws heavily on the book ‘101 ways to get your child to read’, by Patience Thompson (ISBN: 978-1-84299-671-3)

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