First of all, you should congratulate yourself for making it this far there are some students who sit the 'mocks' and find the whole leaving cert thing too much for them so they drop out, BUT for those of you who made it this far, fair play to ya, this one is for you.

This article is going to provide you with some of the pearls of wisdom once given to me. Most apply solely to your Leaving Cert Maths Exam, but some may be applied again during other exams or life trials.

"There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure."

Colin Powell

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Organisation is key

Okay, I probably sound like your mother telling you to clean up after yourself, but let's be fair when I had an Irish mummy ever been wrong? When I was doing the leaving cert exams, one of our teachers gave every student a packet of coloured study cards, I can honestly say they are the best invention since sliced bread!

Then minimise the amount of no to have to read, and yet they provide you with enough information to trigger memories of work done during the school year. The fewer notes you have to revise at this point, the better. Being organised always leads to a feeling of being in control. So… don't forget to Organise and Summarise.

Read First - Then Answer

Okay, this piece of advice is actually practicable, my advice is to take some old exam papers read through everything the question first. Ideally, you will have two different coloured highlighters use one to highlight the bits you are confident in answering and the other to highlight the parts you think might be trickier.

Being familiar with this technique is so important. Students lose marks so often because they just haven't read the question correctly.

study notes
The closer you get to your exams the shorter your notes should be, if you only have a few notes to revise usually just bullet point them to trigger memories of schoolwork, it will make things much more clear and organised closer to the time -Photo by Joanna Kosinska on Unsplash

Create a revision timetable for yourself

Okay yes, you can ask a teacher or a parent to give you a template, but it's important that you actually create a timetable for yourself this way you can study subjects which you find more difficult earlier on in the afternoon or at the weekend and leave the subjects you're pretty good at till last. I'm nothing in those subjects are less important, but I am saying revising the subjects that come easier to you don't need you to be as fresh alert and focused as you would be for that subject to struggle with. This is down to the fact that you actually enjoy one subject better than the other therefore one will naturally be easier for you to revise.

You should also schedule your breaks on this timetable. Studies have shown that we concentrate best for periods of 20 to 30 minutes, the important thing is to take regular short breaks and keep hydrated.

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Always Familiarise Yourself with your Tools Beforehand

What I mean by tools are your formulae tables and your calculator.

Try to understand the reasons behind the creation of the formula. You will not get very far if you think you need to memorise, every single different formula relating to trigonometric identities, but you will do much better if you simply understand how they are all interrelated. Think of formulae as the poetry of maths.

Do not, I repeat whatever you do, do not bring a new calculator into your exam. It's like wearing a new pair of shoes for a whole day, it's just a really bad idea. You need to bring your old trusty reliable calculator, the one that's got you this far and never let you down.

If for some unknown reason your calculator that has gotten you through the leaving cert cycle decides to give up the ghost just before your exam, I strongly recommend borrowing one from your teacher rather than buying a new one you are completely unfamiliar with.

Practice, and Then Practice Some More

I know, I say this in almost every article I write, but past exam papers really are your friends' people! There really is no better way to prepare for an exam than to practice by using old exam papers.

It's that familiarity with the layout of the paper and the structure of the questions and even just practising reading the paper through, before you answer any questions that will benefit you greatly in the actual exam. Because you won't panic when you get there, you already have a routine, you know what to do before you start answering questions.

If it's just too expensive to buy all the different exam papers, for the six or seven subjects you are studying, don't worry there is a way to get access to those exam papers for free. For past maths exam papers and marking schemes, across all three Leaving Cert Levels, you can visit The Leaving Cert, here you can either use the papers online or I recommend printing them especially for maths as you can actually fill out the answers on the paper.

maths tools lc
It was so important to use tools that you're familiar with during your exam come there is nothing worse than trying to use a calculator you've never used before and especially if you are not familiar with its settings and where to find the correct functions -Image by jusuf111 from Pixabay

Practice your timing skills

If you're familiar with trying to do the exam in the allocated timeframe as well as leaving time over to go back over any questions you may have been struggling with it will help you so much in the actual exam. If you end up running out of time and leaving out multiple questions, it can really take points off your entire grade for Maths.

Allocating each question a specific amount of time means that you can’t get stuck on a difficult question instead you can complete your exam and come back to it with the extra time you’ve allocated yourself. Typically you are allocated two hours and 30 minutes to complete the exam.

My suggested breakdown is as follows:

  • 6 short questions x 12 mins each
  • 3 long questions x 20 mins each

This breakdown means that you will have a total of 18 minutes leftover. Having your own watch on the desk or your arm means that you can more easily track of the time without always having to take a break to look up at the clock. This means that when your 12 or 20 minutes are up for the question, even if you have not completed the question that you can you continue onto the next one in keeping with your timeframe.

Attempt Every Question on the Paper

This is also why it's important to practice your timing, it is vital that you at least attempt to answer every single question. Why? It’s simple, the Project Maths Syllabus is largely focused on the student's comprehension of the problem, this means the most important thing to the examiner is that they can see you understand what is being asked of you.

So yes write everything down! Of course, correctly completing a question will get you full marks, but in cases where you can't,  showing your rough work and allowing the examiner to see that you at least understand the question will gain you some marks towards your final grade.

Keep trying
It's so important that the matter what happens you don't give up, you can always try again and there is no shame in that -Image by Marta Kulesza from Pixabay

Keep Calm and Carry On

It's important to keep calm, both in the exam and after. If you panic in the exam you might forget your timing or some formula or read through everything before you start. So don't think of it as this big final exam, treat it's just like all the practice Rowntrees you've done, the most important things are that you stick to your timing and you attempt everything.

If you feel like you didn't sit a great exam afterward, don't work yourself up there's nothing you can do until August when the results come out. Even if you don't get the results you needed from maths, and you don't get into your college course, it's not the end of the road.

You can always repeat the leaving cert exams, whether it's one subject and all of them, you have options no matter what results you get. Just keep calm and don't give up, some people just take a more scenic route on their way to their destination college and there is no shame in that.

For guidance when it comes to leaving cert maths for adults check out the following article: Leaving Cert maths for adults

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Maureen

Hey, I'm Maur/Mo, I'm a writer from Ireland. I've written a novel and a lot of poetry and fiction. Currently, I work as a content writer at superprof