Once you start the leaving cert cycle, it can seem like it’s all anyone wants to talk about. Almost everyone - from the teachers, to your parents, to the cashiers at the local shop - wants to know if you’re studying, when you’re studying, and how you’re studying. This can be even more overwhelming if you have no idea how to study for the leaving cert English exam.
We have a collection of helpful English leaving cert guides over on Superprof, so keep an eye on these articles for the links that take you to them!
Not sure exactly what you need to prepare for? Check our list of topics covered in the English exam to get a better idea!
How Do I Make A Study Plan?
Making a study plan is one of the best ways to study, keep yourself organised, and make sure that you’re keeping on top of any topics that you need to look at closer. It can also help you manage your time better, and reduce the amount of study stress you feel. A good study plan will also help you manage your homework as well as your study.
In fact, setting out a study plan is probably one of the pieces of advice that you’ll hear most during your leaving cert years. So, how do you create a study plan?
Do you want to make your own timetable for when you should study? You can find a timetable maker here!
How to Find Out What Kind Of Learner You Are
If a study plan is going to be successful, it needs to work for you. This means that you need to know what type of learner you are. There are seven different types of learner, and you can create a more effective study plan if you work to your strengths.
Visual learners retain visual information better than other types. Things like colour codes, maps, and pictures are much easier to recall than text, or type.
Kinaesthetic learners learn better when they’re physically active. Things like flashcards that you can move, role-playing, or carrying out the task can help kinaesthetic learners retain information.
Aural learners remember information after hearing it. These types of learners will learn better if they’re listening to audiobooks, podcasts, or recorded lectures.
Social learners learn best when there’s participation or a social aspect. These learners will recall more information from things like study groups, or study activities.
Solitary learners learn better when they’re studying alone. They will find things like making notes, and self recital will help them retain information.
Verbal learners can remember information better through both written and spoken word. Tools like learning rhymes, and acronyms will be useful for these types of learners.
Logical learners respond well to structures, statistics, and numbers. Following information to a logical conclusion can help these types of learners recall the information.
In reality, most people learn are a combination of two or more types of learner. For example, social learners can also be aural learners. Solitary learners may also be visual and logical learners. If you think about what study tricks work for you, you can create a plan that works with your style of learning.
Would you like to see some more resources? We have compiled an extensive English leaving cert study notes list that you can take from!
When And How Do You Study Best?
As well as working out what kind of learner you are, you also need to think about when you study best. Are you a morning person, or do you feel more capable in the evening? Do you study better in large blocks once or twice a week? Or does short twenty bursts work better for you? Do you need a break after school to refocus? Or would you do better scheduling your study for immediately after getting home?
The answers to these questions are really important as they’ll help you devise a schedule that will actually help you study.
Bonus Tip. Write It Down!
Write your current schedule down. It doesn’t matter if it’s on paper, or if you use a digital calendar, but keep track of your current commitments. Include your classes, extracurricular activities, work commitments, family commitments, and any other responsibilities. This is the best way to see how you spend your time, and where you have time for study.
If your schedule seems like there’s no time for study, then you’ll need to re-evaluate some things, and look for areas where you can rearrange activities to make time for study.
Once you have your schedule, you need to stick to it. Follow it as consistently as you can. There may be times when you may have to adjust which subject you study, and when, but as long as you keep to your study plan, it will become easier to manage your time.
How Do I Study For Leaving Cert English?
When you’ve got your study schedule nailed down, and you know when you’re going to study, you should think about how you’re going to study for the leaving cert English. Some people don’t think you can study for both papers of the English exam, but you most definitely can.
There is more than one way to study, too. Take a look at some of these ways of studying for the English leaving cert on our useful guide, and familiarize yourself with different techniques!
The leaving cert English paper one is the language paper. This paper will have questions on comprehension and composition. You should look up and practice past papers. There are other resources online that you can also use to practice answering the questions.
Always start with the composition question. It’s worth 100 marks, which makes it the highest value question on both papers. There are seven options for the composition, so practice them all. This can help you figure out which type of composition is your bigger strength. You obviously won’t know the topics until the day of the exam, but you may be able to develop some ideas on short stories, or how you would structure your answer.
You should also make sure to read articles, short stories, blogs, op-eds and anything else you can find. Look at the structure of them, and the language used. Reading can help you increase your vocabulary, your writing, and learn how other writers structure their pieces.
You also need to be sure that you know what length is expected for the composition. You’ll need 4 to 6 pages, depending on the size of your writing, but always remember that the quality of the writing is more important than the number of pages you have. Don’t drag out your composition to fill the pages.
You should aim to spend an hour and fifteen minutes to an hour and a half on the composition.
You should also practice Question A and B on past papers. You should aim to spend around forty-five minutes on each question. You need to write around 3 pages on Question A, and around 2 and a half pages on Question B.
Paper two is the literature paper. The first question will be on the single text, and as you’ll have only studied one text out of the options, you’ll only have one question that you’ll be able to answer. This question may be based on the characters, the literary techniques in the text, or the themes within the text. Practice answers on all three possibilities, and prepare quotes from the text. Practice past papers that have questions on your single text.
You should try to structure your answers with an introduction, 3 or 4 well defined paragraphs and a conclusion. Also, try to make sure that your answers don’t become a re-telling of the plot. Re-read the question a few times, and pick out the keywords, as these will be what dictates your answer.
The comparative study questions give you an option between one 70 mark question, or a 40 mark question and a 30 mark question. Again, past papers will be helpful, and you should practice answering those questions.
You should make notes on the key moments of each of the three comparative study texts, quotes, characterisations, and important techniques. You should also make notes on your own opinions of the texts, and how you felt about them.
The poetry section of the paper is worth 70 marks. There’s an unseen poem which higher level leaving cert English students won’t have seen before, however ordinary level students will have studied it previously.
The poetry questions are more based on your personal opinion, but you need to be able to back up your opinions. You’ll need to be familiar with all the different poetic techniques, what they do, and how to recognise them. You should also be familair with the individual styles of each of the prescribed poets.
You’ll also need to be able to quote from the poems, so make notes on memorable quotes from each of the poems.
A lot of the leaving cert English paper two involves remembering quotes. You’ll need to be able to quote, and quote accurately and relevantly from all of the literature you’ve studied during your leaving cert English cycle.
There are a few ways to memorise quotes, but the one that will be most effective for you will depend on your learning style. One way that is effective for leaving cert English students is to write out the quotes under different categories. Define the most relevant categories for the texts, and write out various quotes under that heading. Re-read the quotes, or re-write them.
Another extremely successful method is to record the quotes as an audio file. Listen to the file whenever you have the chance. If you find it easy to learn the lyrics to songs, for example, then you may find that this method works.
What Are Some Other Ways To Study For Leaving Cert English
Essentially, when you’re trying to figure out how to study for the leaving cert English exam, what it boils down to is to find what works for you. Study tips, guides, and online resources can all be helpful. Some students find it easier to study with the help of a tutor who can guide you through the topics, and give you helpful exam tips as well.
If the tutor option is a route you would like to explore, feel free to check out the options we have available over on Superprof, where we offer a number of English teachers near you at an affordable price!
The platform that connects tutors and students