Exam Times: Study Skills

Welcome to the Exam Times Study Skills guide, published by The Irish Times in association with The Institute of Education.

Packed full of expert, practical advice, this guide will help you develop effective study and revision techniques, focusing on mind mapping, learning and memory techniques, tips for motivation, note taking and class room skills.

Written by Orla Ni Shuilleabhain, Study Skills Mentor at the Institute, the guide is designed to help students get the best possible start to the year.

Some the highlights can be viewed below and the full guide is also available to download in PDF format.


The place you choose to study can make all the difference to the effectiveness of your revision time. Keep these few simple things in mind when you are choosing and creating this space:

  • Have a set place where you study, then you will always associate it with effective study. Keep it free of distractions.
  • Your study place, if possible, should have a desk, comfortable chair and good lighting and heating when required.
  • Have your books and stationary on hand. Time spent looking for things, is time spent not studying.
  • Avoid clutter as this can cause chaos when you least need it
  • TV, friends and the Internet are the biggest distractions. Turn your phone off and log out of social networking sites. Look forward to these “rewards” during your breaks.
  • Have your daily / weekly planner where you can see it. Check off completed tasks / study periods as you finish them.

Once you have created an effective and suitable study area that is free of audio and visual distractions, you are ready to start studying!


Are you a visual or verbal learner? Think about the things in life that you remember vividly and in full detail! Is it information in the form of pictures and text? Or is it a speech from the radio or news reader on the TV? Visual learners learn best from what they see and write down. Verbal learners learn best from asking questions and hearing answers

If you are a Visual Learner then you will learn most effectively through the use of diagrams, clearly laid out notes, visual organisers, colour-coded bullet points and study techniques such as idea-mapping and flashcards.

If you are a Verbal Learner then you can improve study performance by reading texts and key points aloud, talking to others about what you have learned, recording your notes and playing them back on your mp3 player, and through memory techniques such as mnemonics.

As you try to cope with the demands of exams, stress can affect you in different ways. Many of the causes of stress can be resolved in the following few short steps:

  • Get organised and remove clutter! This is the number one cause of stress in students.
  • Set realistic goals that have a specific time frame and are measurable.
  • Maintain a regular study pattern. A solid study routine is reassuring.
  • Allocate time properly to each subject. Weaker subjects should get more study time, and should be studied at a time when you are at your freshest and brightest.
  • Believe in yourself, be positive and track your successes.
  • Avoid alcohol and tobacco and try to limit caffeine intake.
  • Take regular breaks and exercise say 3 – 5 times a week
  • Eat healthily and get enough sleep. A healthy body leads to a healthy and stress-free mind.

Published on Thursday, 4th September 2014, this supplement focuses on Study Skills for Junior & Leaving Cert students.

Download Full Study Skills Supplement (5.9 MB)

Download sample Weekly Planner (68 KB)