How to improve your grades after the mocks
The mocks can be a good wake up call and you still have time to achieve the grades you want
Written by Eleanor Younge
Voices - Advice
Young people share advice based on their experiences.
So, you didn't study for your mocks… Now you've got your papers back, have realised that you've done horrifically and are panicking. With the big Junior Cert less than three months away, there's no way you can get your grades back up in time. You're destined to fail, right? Wrong. If you are willing to make an effort, you have plenty of time to turn things around. The question is, how?
Start by taking responsibility for your own work
If you've done badly in a subject, don't blame the teacher, the paper or the corrector. You'll have to accept that if you haven't done as well as you should have, it's because you didn't work as hard as you should have. This should provide motivation to make more of an effort for the next while. Note: If you don't get along with a particular teacher, try to spend extra time on their subject at home or ask another teacher for help.
Come up with a realistic study timetable
Sit down and draw a graph. Make seven columns, one for every day of the week. In each column, write down any free time that you have that day, and then work out how many free hours you have per week. Be realistic here; you're not going to study for five hours every night, so don't say that you will. Make sure to leave time for homework, hobbies, and relaxing. Personally, I can't study for longer than half an hour without getting bored, so I divide my study time into thirty minute blocks, but this varies from person to person. Whatever time you choose, remember to leave breaks between subjects. Once you work out how many study blocks you can fit into your week, start dividing this time amongst your subjects, giving more time to your weaker subjects. When you are happy with your timetable, hang it up at your desk or wherever you study. Do your best to follow it because it's more helpful than you might think.
Read over your mock papers
This will help you to see where you've gone wrong and what you can do to improve. If you did especially badly in a particular question, re-do it during your study time. Bring it to your teacher and ask them to correct it. Now isn't the time to worry about being called a "lick" for doing extra work. Mock papers are also useful to study from, as you will be surprised how many of the same questions appear in the real exams.
Spend time on what you need to learn, not what you like to learn
It's so much easier to sit down and revise your favourite subject for half an hour than it is to revise your most hated one for the same length of time. However, this attitude will get you nowhere. With three months left, there's no point wasting time studying things that you already know. Work on improving your weaker subjects instead, and concentrate on the questions that you answered badly in your mocks.
Ask for help
Maybe there was one question in the mocks that completely threw you. You had no idea how to answer it and you're still not entirely sure. Now is the time to ask for help. Bring the paper to your teacher and ask them to explain it to you. If it's still not making sense, ask another teacher, a parent, or a student from an older year. Don't stop asking until you are sure of how to answer the question; you will thank yourself if it comes up in June.
Know the exam papers inside out
Spend time going over exam papers and work out exactly how much time you have for each question. This is especially important in both English papers, where it's easy to get carried away on one question. Know how many marks each question is worth and make sure to spend longer on the questions that carry more marks. Also, make sure you know how many questions you are expected to answer in each section, how long your answers should be and whether you have a choice within any sections. Knowing this information before going into the exam saves time, and makes you feel calm and prepared.
Take short, basic notes
Much as you might like to carefully learn long paragraphs of information off by heart, time is not on your side. Read through the information and summarise long paragraphs in a few bullet points. Once your notes make sense to you, they are fine. If you find yourself very stuck for time, just write down the main topics from each answer in bullet points and then learn these. It will be much easier to write an answer in an exam if you already know what to put in it.
If you genuinely want to do well, and are willing to put in the effort, you'll be absolutely fine.