The written word has so much power, it has the power to transport us to different times and places, it has the power to change laws and end wars, it has the power to record the past and advise the future.
If you can read and write, you have the ability to change the world. Knowledge is power, and yes the pen is mightier than the sword!
“I have my mind...and a mind needs books as a sword needs a whetstone if it is to keep its edge. That's why I read so much Jon Snow.”
George R.R. Martin - A Game of Thrones
Studying for my Leaving Cert English Curriculum is what gave me the confidence to write my first novel and become a content writer, but these are not the only two jobs I've had in which Leaving Cert English has come in useful.
Here are some of the times the abilities learnt in my Leaving Cert English curriculum came in useful in my everyday life:
- Studying Psychology -I had to read a lot for this course, much of the material was written a very long time ago. For example, when I was studying writings by Sigmund Freud my knowledge of Arthur Conan Doyle and Shakespeare came in handy when it came to understanding what was being talked about.
- Marketing/Events - Believe it or not, poetry really helped me in this role, a huge part of advertising is having a memorable/catchy slogan.
- Charity Board of Directors - The ability to write well and the comprehension skills I learned in school, really helped me in this role. in not only writing my own speeches but also understanding others.
So you see, right now you might be thinking, when will I use any of this? Why do I need to learn English when I can already speak it fluently?
The truth is, that no matter what path you follow in life, you will always need the skills you learn in Leaving Cert English. Whether it's writing college assignments, composing formal emails or even understanding an insurance policy, you will use the things you've learnt in these 2 years, every day.
What Will be on the Ordinary Level, Leaving Cert, English Exams?
In this series of articles, we are going to take a look at all the main focus areas for your exams:
- Reading Comprehension
- Personal/Creative Writing
Even just turning it into a shortlist like the one above makes it seem more accomplishable. In fact, I recommend sorting your notes into the five categories above. That way, when it comes to studying for each area, you won't waste time searching, just to feel exhausted before you even get to do any revision. All subjects, not just English will be easier to revise if the notes are sorted into groups.
Another really helpful tool when it comes to preparing for Leaving Cert is a timetable. Creating a schedule for yourself means that you can give all of your subjects the attention they need without stressing or overdoing it. By sticking to your timetable, you will actually get way more work done, this is largely down to the fact that you cannot get stuck on one subject for long periods of time, which means you'll be able to come back to it with fresh eyes a day later or maybe even two, in the meantime, you will have moved on to another subject and be giving it the attention it deserves. The last but probably most important thing you should include in your timetable is regular breaks from your screen or your notes as well as keeping hydrated. Taking breaks means that your brain gets to rest for just a few minutes, which means you'll be able to feel relaxed when you come back to study, as far as keeping hydrated goes, it is generally a good idea to stay hydrated as it promotes good mental and physical health.
How Can I Study for Leaving Cert English if I Hate Reading?
So many people find it hard to concentrate when it comes to reading. I love it, but I know many people who use the "I'll wait for the movie to come out" line, I have asked on occasion why this is and it seems that a lot of people find it hard to concentrate when it's just words on a blank background. This is totally understandable, it would be like putting a whole load of mathematical equations in front of me and asking me to concentrate, I couldn't do it, not without some more enticing way for me to understand it. Luckily when it comes to reading the solution is simple and just one-word audio.
If you find studying for long periods of time or even reading a book frustrating because you can get your head to concentrate, audio is a really great alternative, especially when it comes to revising English. It may cost you a little bit more, but it totally worth it. You will find almost every play, book and poem in your Leaving Cert curriculum, somewhere online in audio format which means you can listen to each piece and make notes while doing so.
Here is the list of places I suggest looking for audiobooks:
- Google Play Books
- Apple Books
If you're looking for some audio poetry I suggest you look up YouTube and search the poem title and the poet, you should be greeted with several options when it comes to listening to your chosen poem. I prefer to choose a video that has the poem wording on the screen and while the VoiceOver has someone reading it, the reason I prefer this format because it allows you to see the actual words used. Being able to do the actual language used, means that you can note specific words/lines and underline anything you think could be important or useful when answering your exams.
How to Make Good English Notes for Leaving Cert
Are there any mentioned organisation is key when it comes to studying, what's your notes are categorised it will instantly make everything easier for you. If like me you're someone who absolutely loves the reading and studying side of English, but you absolutely hate taking notes, in the same way, that audio can help people who don't like reading learn quicker, some tools can make sorting and creating notes easier for you.
My own personal favourite is Spark Notes. It may not have every single piece of prescribed text for your leaving cert, but it has a lot.
In the poetry section you'll come across:
- Emily Dickinson
- William Wordsworth
- William Butler Yeats
Now I know that you're supposed to learn 36 poems for ordinary level English and the above list online provides you with some of them but, Spark Notes break down the poems into the following categories Themes, Motifs and Symbols. Once you have gotten a grasp on the style of note-taking it will be easier to create your own notes.
Sparknotes also has notes for English Literature and Drama (Plays) the notes are detailed and include information on things like main characters, quotes, main ideas and even summaries of each chapter or scene.
Where can I get Help Revising for Leaving Cert English?
Sometimes, in order to fully grasp a subject, it might be helpful to look into getting grinds.
If you are looking for online tuition, Superprof has many tutors offering grinds in English online. Superprof grinds are flexible to suit each individual's academic needs. At Superprof you can choose your tutor from a large selection, you can select times that suit you and take as many or as few revision/preparation classes as you need. Superprof, tuition is affordable, grinds start from just €10 and because they are flexible they are super convenient!
If you are looking for face-to-face grinds, some Superprof tutors also offer this service, it will be mentioned in their tutor profile. However, some people prefer group grinds, which are usually long-term and in a specific school or location. Often you are required to sign up for a revision course or school term, this is usually a little more expensive, but if this sounds like something you could benefit from they are easily looked up online, sometimes your teacher might even be able to make suggestions of where to go.
For more information on answering different sections of the English Leaving Cert exam papers, click any of the links bel0w for advice on the topic mentioned:
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