Billy Ryle: Students Should Activate A Study Plan Immediately

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As calls are made to postpone the Leaving Cert exams until the autumn, Guidance Counsellor, Billy Ryle says working at home presents new challenges but students have the resources to meet them headlong…

In normal times, young people look forward to school holidays so that they can enjoy the freedom from the discipline of class work and the homework.

But for the immediate future, the times in which we live are abnormal, uncertain and very challenging as the country grapples with the challenges of the Coronavirus pandemic.

In the interests of public safety, schools and colleges all over the country have been ordered to remain closed until Monday 30th March and students have been requested to maintain a study schedule at home.

Continued below…


As the virus increases in intensity, it seems highly unlikely that schools will reopen before Easter, at the earliest.

It’s not beyond the bounds of possibility that the current academic year may end before schools can resume normal service.

It’s not a major issue for non-exam classes as appropriate adjustments will be made for them when they return to school.

As long as they follow the directives given via their schools’ online platforms, video conferencing, social media, text and phone communications, etc., they will stay up to date without too much difficulty.

The situation is more pressing for those due to take State Exams in the current academic year.

It’s imperative for exam students to believe that the public exams will be held this year. It may be necessary to make some alterations to timetables and schedules, but public exams will take place unless the country is forced into long term lockdown.

All students, particularly those sitting the Junior Cert and Leaving Cert exams in 2020, must activate a contingency study and time management plan immediately.

Commit to a number of hours study each day. Adjust the timetable below in accordance with any online contact that your school has setup for its own students.

• Begin early when your mind is fresh and alert.

• Do a 9am/11am (2hr) session followed by an 11.30/1.30pm (2hr) session.

• Break until 3pm for lunch and some relaxation – active leisure if the weather permits.

• A third session follows from 3pm to 4.30pm (1.5hr) and then 5pm to 6.30pm (1.5hr).

• The next hour and a half is for dinner and relaxation.

• Exam candidates should then consider a final study session from 8pm to 10pm (2hr).

If homework isn’t being directly prescribed by your school, prioritise the revision you need to do.

A good system is to follow the subject timetable for the next day’s classes at school. This approach gives you variety each day and an equal distribution of time to all your subjects.

Work ahead on new course material when your revision has been brought up to-date. You might not understand everything you read but, at least, you’re breaking new ground.

For 2020 exam students, it’s all about doing past exam papers from now on. This is your best way to prepare for the official State Exam and it’s the type of active learning that will make you more skilled and more knowledgeable to answer the official exam paper.

Study on your own in a room where you have peace and quiet. A table and a hardback chair adequate heating and lighting are basic requirements this time of year.

Don’t be distracted by texts, phone calls or music while studying. Organise your books and materials before you begin each study session to avoid having to leave the room.

Stay positive and be confident in your ability to work away on your own. Keep a good thought about yourself, be success orientated and enjoy some exercise to burn off any tension.

The present difficulties caused by the Covid-19 virus will be overcome, hopefully sooner rather than later.

No student will be disadvantaged by the State Examinations Commission (SEC) as a result of the current disruption and uncertainty.

The SEC is fair-minded, flexible and always has the best interests of candidates at heart. Put your mind at ease about that and make the days at home as productive as possible for yourself.


• Maintain a regular daily & weekly routine
• Wash/shower & dress when you get up to maintain a sense of urgency
• Adjust your daily study timetable based on your school’s online platform
• Enjoy your meals and your relaxation periods
• Get a good night’s sleep – early to bed and early to rise!
• Keep in touch with your friends via social media
• Build active leisure into your routine
• Stay safe & well
• Remember all students are in the same situation
• No student will be disadvantaged by the current schools closure
• The SEC has your best interests at heart

• Billy Ryle is a Guidance Counsellor and writer

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