The Matura will soon be upon us. It’s important to be prepared well in advance , so when you sit the exams, you can feel confident and relaxed. And, to get to that happy place, it’s time to get planning.
Last minute studying is frantic, inefficient and not recommended. You want to be Aesop’s tortoise, not the hare – and we all remember who won that race! Starting today, write down a list of the subjects you will be taking and decide which ones you need to revise the most. Next, draft out a revision timetable. Be realistic and don’t set yourself impossible goals. It’s better to set aside daily two-hour blocs – and do them – than to decide you will study four hours every night, and all of Saturday and Sunday. Take it from me, you won’t. And if you fail to meet these unrealistic targets, you will end up feeling guilty and disappointed in yourself. So, don’t set yourself up to fail.
Once you have established what you need to concentrate on, write your timetable down on a large sheet of card and pin it to the wall, or the side of a wardrobe, above a desk etc. Make sure you factor in any family events, outings, sports clubs etc, so the chart reflects reality. Each time you finish a revision session, tick it off ,so you can see how much you have done as the weeks go by and get satisfaction from your progress.
Where you study is just as important as what you study. Find a comfortable spot, where you can lay out your materials .Make sure it is well-lit, ventilated and reasonably quiet and that there are no distractions around you. If you have to study to music, and most of us do not, then research has shown that only instrumentals effectively act as a suitable background. And remember that the family kitchen table is probably the worst spot to study in the house!
Revision may throw up topics or facts that you still do not understand. And that’s perfectly OK. Write down any questions you have and take them to school with you, so you can ask a teacher to explain it to you again. You can’t afford to let embarrassment stop you from clearing up gaps in knowledge, otherwise you will waste lots of energy worrying that the subject could crop up in the Matura paper. And that will be stressful.
Finally, it is important to work out what kind of learner you are: are you a visual learner, or an auditory one? Do you need to write things down to remember them? Or perhaps you learn and retain materials more easily if you have to explain facts aloud to others ? Whatever you learning style, you need to use it while you are revising for the Matura. If visual cues help you learn, stick up Post-it notes, and draw flowcharts and simple diagrams to link facts. If you need to hear information to remember it, read out loud to yourself. And if you can only organise your thoughts by sharing them with others, organise a small study group, where you can use group dynamics to work through the material.
Finally, remember that the Matura is not designed to trip you up or to catch you out, but to see what you know and how you think. It’s not a huge, stressful challenge if you are prepared. Think of the Matura exams as an opportunity to shine, a great opportunity to show how good you really are and how much you have learned at school. Be positive, look forward to finishing your secondary school years on a high. And, above all else, start planning now and your Matura examinations will be stress-free and, dare I say it, a breeze…