Are you starting your Junior Cycle and trying to understand the framework and specifics of Junior Cycle English? Year after year, many students across the Republic of Ireland are faced with this new phase in their academic lives, driving them into a new world of subjects, evaluations, and three years of hard work to ace their exams.

But, how demanding is the new Junior Cycle? And how to be the best possible student to get good grades?

In the specific case of English, there are some tips and tricks around note-taking that could help students become more organized and strategic around their studies and make sure that they are getting the best resources for their English Junior Cycle assessment. Keep reading to learn more!

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About the Junior Cycle Framework

With all the changes happening in the past two decades to the education system in the Republic of Ireland, the new junior cycle and the renewed junior cert curriculum have brought some questions along to students, parents, and teachers alike who often wonder things like:

  • What subjects are in the new junior cycle?
  • Is the new junior cycle hard?
  • When did the new junior cycle start?
  • What is the new junior cycle?

Well, while it is still an evolving matter and has taken a slightly new spin for the year 2021 due to the changes derived from the COVID-19 pandemic, we can give you some general ideas for you to understand the new framework and be better informed when making decisions around enrolling in activities, schools and checking the syllabus.

First things first: what is the new Junior Cycle? The Junior Cycle covers the first three years of secondary school. Children begin their second-level education around the age of 12 or 13. The Junior Cycle examination is held at the end of the Junior Cycle in post-primary schools and students normally sit the exam at the age of 15 or 16. There is a wide range of subjects available, but all subjects are not offered in every school. The Department of Education publishes syllabus and curriculum information. The National Council for Curriculum and Assessment provides a list of Junior Cycle subjects.

But then, does this mean that the new junior cycle is harder? For most Irish students, the Junior Cert is the first major set of exams they have to sit. But this new version is nothing more than an actualized curriculum with a different grading system. This by no means makes it harder and students should not stress too much about the change.

And what subjects are in the new junior cycle? The following are the subjects that can be found as part of the new junior cycle:

  • AT Applied Technology.
  • BS Business Studies.
  • CL Classics.
  • En Engineering.
  • E English.
  • ESS Environmental Social Studies.
  • Gae Gaeilge.
  • Geo Geography.
  • Gr Graphics
  • His History
  • HE Home Economics
  • JS Jewish Studies
  • M Mathematics
  • MFL Modern Foreign Languages
  • Mu Music
  • RE Religious Education
  • Sci Science
  • VA Visual Arts
  • WT Wood Technology

It is important to note that not all schools offer the entirety of the subjects. The only mandatory subjects across the board are:

  • Irish/Gaelige (Higher or Ordinary)
  • English (Higher or Ordinary)
  • Maths (Higher or Ordinary)
  • Wellbeing (Common Level)
  • History (Special Core Status)

When did the new Junior Cycle start? It began in a phased manner dating from September 2014. It aims to feature revised subjects and short courses, a focus on literacy, numeracy, and key skills, and new approaches to assessment and reporting.

Do you need tips to write your essay? Go to our English media guide for students.

Tips for Taking Good Notes on Your JCT

girl studying in computer
Be the best note-taker! Source: Pexels

The Junior Cycle English Assessment Examination is fast approaching and you are feeling the stress of performing to the higher standards while also making sure that you are being as strategic as possible in how and what you study. Truth be told, the exam is comprised of questions that will engulf your knowledge in a way that can be evaluated under the junior cert English marking scheme and it is sometimes hard for students to understand how to appropriately study for the test and take good notes.

But fear not. While it might seem a bit daunting and not quite intuitive at first, taking good notes for your junior cert English can be accomplished with a series of tips and tricks that you will want to remember.

  1. The first tip is to make sure you have a plan. Make sure to make a study plan you can use. The first thing you should be doing is taking out your mock papers to see where you lost marks and create action points to improve on these specific spots.
  2. Try to study effectively. How to achieve this? Well, you can try to make sure you are taking regular breaks and avoiding distractions. Also, you can practice active learning to stop zoning out.
  3. Practice past exam questions: having access to past papers will help you enormously. You should be doing lots of past exam questions and checking your answer against the marking schemes. Be ready for the questions that you will face in June.

Other not cert-specific tips for taking notes might also prove effective in the classroom and will eventually lead you to be a more organized and well-rounded student altogether.

  1. Organize the blank page. The best use of class notes was to create original summaries of those notes. You can also try to create original questions about the material that was covered in class.
  2. Draw a line down each sheet of paper, making two columns. One column should be one-third of the width of the paper, and the other should be two-thirds. Take notes in the wider column, leaving the narrow column blank. Once your class is done, go back to your notes and use the blank column to create questions or summaries about the material and use the questions and summaries to quiz themselves on the lecture notes.
  3. Use dedicated study time to review notes, reread summaries, and answer the questions about your notes.
  4. The pen will always be better than the computer. According to a study by Pam Mueller and Daniel Oppenheimer, the act of taking notes in longhand involves deeper processing than doing so on a laptop or tablet.
  5. Use margins! If you have questions about the material, write them on the edges of the paper, so that they don’t clog your working memory.
  6. Reread everything. This will allow you to think about course concepts at a deeper level, which should lead to easier recall and better understanding.
  7. Abbreviate to take notes faster. Find abbreviations you can use for recurring words so you won’t need as much time to write them down when taking notes.
  8. If you haven’t tried flashcards or mind maps as an aid to memory, try using them now.
  9. Highlight keywords or buzzwords that will help you remember essays or other text.

What other note-taking tips have proven effective when studying for the Irish junior cert? Keep reading to find out more about another super handy resource that will help you ace your JCT.

Check out these English resources! Check out these English past papers.

Study the Junior Cert Curriculum With A Tutor

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You can find a private tutor to help. Source: Pexels

Being a good note-taker and having the right resources for your Irish Junior Cert is only part of the experience. You will need to put in the effort in class, as well as make sure that you are doing homework and refreshing your knowledge as much as possible.

The final step? Getting some help from outside your school system could take you just where you need to be to make sure you have the best academic results possible!

Private tutors like the ones we have in Superprof have proven to be great allies for students who are looking for some extra support for their studies and want to get one-on-one attention from experts in a given subject.

When it comes to English, we have a wide selection of private English tutors in Ireland, all ready to share their knowledge and experience with you and help you prepare for your exams.

Contacting them can be quite easy: all you need to do is make sure you pick the right profile for your needs!

Do you need someone who specializes in literature? Or maybe a tutor who will give you the right tools and knowledge in media studies? Well, you need to make sure that the tutor that you pick will do exactly that.

Read their Superprof profiles thoroughly and ask all the questions you want before committing to the lessons. If they have specific experience helping students thrive in the Junior Cert curriculum, all the best!

Also, make sure you check out other students' reviews and take into account their academic and professional experience so you have a good idea of what the classes with the tutor will be like.

Are you ready to tackle Junior Cycle English with a Superprof tutor?

Looking for English courses for adults? Head to our literature guide!

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Andrea

Communications consultant and content creator. Foodie, traveller and music lover.