17Oct/19Off

What factors affect how well we do in exams?

What factors affect how well we do in exams?

 

You would think it is all down to how much time you spend swatting in your bedroom.

 

There are in fact 8 main factors that affect exam performance

 

Subject Knowledge - Yes how much context you remember. You increase the content you remember by how you effectively you process the information in a way that suits you. In short realistic study blocks. of time

 

Your Exam History - How you have done in previous exams. If you had a bad exam last time you are inclined to walk into the next exam feeling that this will be the same. Leave the last exam behind you!

 

Exam Preparation - Have you maintained your health? Do you feel good about yourself? Are you feeling calm, fit, rested and do you have everything you need for the exam from food to pens organised?

 

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Exam Practice - How well do you know the exam papers? Do you plan on doing the exams from start to finish? Bad idea! You need to do your best questions first when you are freshest and get your best marks for these questions!

 

Experience of the Subject - Do you bring yourself into your answers? What sets you apart from all the other scripts and answers? Your life experience. Think about where you have travelled too, who you have met, what sports you are good at, what books have you read for inspiration? Who do you admire that you can quote? What work experience have you done? All this is valuable examples you know first hand - you don't have to learn them off - you remember these experiences.

 

Writing Skills - Do you do out a plan for your essays? Do you make sure to have a beginning, middle and a conclusion? Do you make sure to state if you have been for or against the argument you presented? Do you read over your work as you go along and keep track of what you are saying?

 

Use of Time - Have you got into the habit of working in blocks of time similar to those that you need to answer the questions in? Have you got time left to read over your work? Do you get stuck on a question and not move on? Do you joint down a plan for the question with the key bullet points to get started?

 

Attitude and Approach - Do you go in feeling this is going to be about everything you don't know or that it's your chance to shine? Do you know what you are good at? No one is good at everything! You don't need to be - you just need to excel in your strengths! Exams test who you are not what you don't remember.

 

17Oct/19Off

Mocks and the sky falling in, Chicken Licken Syndrome

Mocks and the sky falling in, Chicken Licken Syndrome

 

Sometimes I ask why do we do the mocks? In fact, in recent years I have charted that where I have students in schools which don't do the mocks, they perform better in the leaving certificate in a few months time. Why? Because they don't have to recover from what I call "Chicken-Licken-syndrome" where students seem to genuinely feel like the sky is falling in on top of them! The mocks are a test run - you are meant to make mistakes. That's the whole point of doing them.

 

Often I refer to this time of the year as "crushing season" because I watch the students who we have built up since September lose complete confidence in their abilities. We have to build them up again from the floor. I really question at this stage if the mocks are a good exercise at all? Surely there must be a better way to have a test run?

 

Ironically, if you did brilliantly you also need to have a little bit of caution at this stage. I often find the students who do exceptionally well in the mocks take it as a given that this is how the papers will look next June. They may be totally different. Did you just get lucky with the topics or do you really have a good exam strategy?

 

The biggest mistake that is made at this stage is students and parents alike being convinced the mark you get now is the mark you will get next June. This is not true. The course has not even been completed in many cases. The students don't know their best topics yet and they have often had little or no exposure to exam papers at this stage.

 

Students and parents are often bullied into dropping down a level in the subject. This is also a very bad idea at this stage of the year. The higher you learn a subject too for the longest time possible the better you do in June. For example, if you continue in an honours class and then drop down to ordinary level closer the time you are more likely to get at least a B and often an A at Ordinary level. In a world where points matter this is much better than "passing" an ordinary level paper. In fact, with the new grading system, it may still be better to get a lower grade at a higher level. Do the points math and the worst case scenario before you drop down. But the higher you aim and the more complex the material you cover, the better you will do with an easier paper if you do decide to play safe in June.

 

The sky really isn't falling in and there is loads of time left to fix the mistakes - but it is very hard to show people your mistakes when you are made to feel so bad for making them.

 

You need to do a proper evaluation of your exam papers. Where did you do well? What went wrong? Did you waste time? Did you read a question wrong and answer a different question to what was asked? Did you miss a whole section? Did you get stuck on one math problem and not move on? Did you not know any quotes? Are you good at the details or the generic writing?

 

For some students with learning difficulties, the mocks go badly in a more spectacular fashion than most. I myself did very badly in my mocks as do many students with learning difficulties. As the department of education has not granted who will and will not receive accommodations in their exams, very few if any schools allow these students to sit their exams in a similar environment to how they will in June. We are overwhelmed by the exam hall experience. I've conducted some research into why some students are hyper-sensitive and how this can be helped. We don't have a reader and hence we read the questions wrong. It's common we take the wrong meaning and answer a completely different question to what has been asked. If you are going to use a laptop in the state exams maybe you didn't get to do this in the mocks? It's rare I find for students to get the accommodations they need and will have in June at this stage for the mocks.

 

Some students haven't got to grasp with the whole course in one "bulk" form. They are struggling to put all the sections together and maybe they haven't covered their best section yet. There are people who need to see the big picture first.

 

No one tells you how to sit an exam and for some students they really do need to do a visual map of the answer and the question, this is highly discouraged. Often, it is implied to be a waste of time when it's not at all. It's a vital way of thinking for visual students.

 

There are so many factors as to why students find exams hard. With so much time left to refine the way you work best, the sky is not falling in. It's time to realise that making mistakes is how we learn best. How we evaluate our mistakes is what will determine how much we learn from them and how much better we will do in the next exam. The one that matters. Put the mocks in context, they are a test run.

 

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12Jan/18Off

Dr Naoise O’Reilly Work and Research Areas

Dr Naoise O'Reilly Work and Research Areas 
15Apr/15Off

Parents, Positivity and the exams – what are Your roles?

So we forget that it's not just the exam students who are stressed up and down the country today - so are their whole houses, family homes, parents and siblings - they have been walking on egg-shells for weeks now!

There have been many tears since the mock results and some schools may not have helped by sending home letters in the last few weeks advising students to drop down in levels - at this stage of the game that is pointless - no one should drop a level - JUST GO FOR IT!

Chances are you need the points at that level, so a "pass" Leaving Cert is no use to you - schools seem to be out of touch with this reality! So you have this shot make it a good one and if it doesn't work out then worry about what to do next but it's very important at this stage to remain positive and put all the doubts in a large black box well out of the way.

In 1925 Dr. Elizabeth Hurlock showed in a study that students who were prasied and encouraged got vastly different results from those who were not or were critisised...

By the end of the fifth day, the results showed:

Those given praise – 71% improvement
Those criticized – 19% improvement
Those ignored – 5% improvement

This is huge and has been known since 1925 so why are we still giving students such a hard time at such critical stages in the exam process? What I have to explain to parents on repeat loop at this time of the year is that your daughter or son is not the same person they were in February of this year - 4 months is a lifetime in the development of a person between the ages of 15 and 18... so much has happened, they have changed their appearance, their friends, their music taste and so on - they have been learning so much information and working so hard to understand how to study, how to answer questions and most of all they have learnt from their mistakes in the mocks! So why would you think they were the person they were 4 months ago and would get the same result now?

So steps of what you can all do for the next 2 and bit weeks:

1: Totally believe in your child - defend them to anyone who doesn't and stick up for them - It will mean the world to them!

2: Somehow mange to teleport them to where they need to be - stress free and for them to always be early - Know their schedule for them, they have enough to think about!

3: Just make sure they have nice clothes to wear, snacks, water, tool kit - batteries for their calculators - remember to just hand it to them! They won't remember their heads right now..

4: Feed them really well - all their favorite foods and make sure they eat well between the end of the exam and the start of the next or the start of study for the next day..

5: Make them finish at least 30 minutes to an hour before bed time - have some nice time, a walk is fantastic.

6: Make sure they don't sleep surrounded by study notes - clear the sleeping space.

7: Make sure they take off the first Saturday of the first exam week - it's a very intense three day start with major subjects and not always their best specialist subjects - they need to pace themselves for their good topics the following two weeks - it's a lot of pressure and they need to totally step out for one day! Go to the mountains, beach, walking, cycling, film anything just away from it all.

8: Let everything go - people become very controlling of silly things when they are stressed - where did this go - why was this moved - ignore ... get siblings to ignore and not lose the plot too!

9: Repeat point one it's the most important one - believe in them - don't go on about alternatives right now - they have to go for their dreams in full right now and really see them to achieve this - the alternative is an August conversation not a June one!

10: Tell them they are great at least 50 times a day! more if you can squash it in ...

Dr. Naoisé.

 

 

 

17Mar/14Off

St. Patrick’s Day 2014: Ireland the Land of Learners

One of the great difficulties with education is that we attempt to fit everyone into the same box.  It is generally accepted that this does not happen but how else can we effectively teach the masses?  Well, as we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day and all that is Irish this is in fact the first mistake when thinking about teaching.  If we instead focus on the learners, the actual students and look at the world from their perspective we may begin to not only accommodate everybody but have them reach their full potential.  Most of all, even experience these people being happy and enjoying education.

So, if we take the learning nation of Ireland, what are we really like here?  We are a country stockpiled with sociable chatterboxes and have a huge number of successful athletics when you think about the size of this land.  We make an impact wherever we go and we are also very generous philanthropically for the size of Ireland.  We as a race contribute hugely to global charities, peace keeping forces and volunteer work.  We are hugely proud of anything remotely Irish.

So, in simple terms that makes us auditory and kinesthetic learners that need huge amounts of encouragement and praise.  We really care about what everyone else thinks of us.  So like most other parts of the world we are a largely extrovert society.  We need to work with others in social settings and we are very social beings.

The hugely interesting fact about auditory learners is that they do not need to just listen, they need to talk as well.  We all know how much we Irish love to speak.  The idea of us starting school at five and learning to be quiet in a classroom situation is just outright ridiculous.  We must admit that we work our way through so much in Ireland by gossiping. The information overload taxi driver, the restroom queue gossip or the local store conversation. It makes us better able to cope with the legendary Irish rainy weather if nothing else.

One of the real difficulties with being an auditory learner (besides just being in trouble in class for talking all of the time) is the rambling way we work, there is no structure.  This is the most common difficulty that many of our students have, especially all the super talkative kinesthetic boys who are brilliant on the sports field but feel like trash at everything else in school.  They simply have no idea how to structure an answer or to focus their thoughts onto the page at hand.

Sure, for the Irish it is perfectly alright and acceptable to write exactly the way you talk too.  The best way to work with auditory kinesthetic learners is through role play.  This is sociable group work that allows us to talk out scenarios.  We get to put ourselves in the situation and we all do great in this part of oral school examinations.  We are a country filled with bucket loads of generationally provided and divided political views.  It is important for us to get to talk about these at length on a regular basis.

Students almost fall off of their chairs with shock when we ask them what they think or have a personal opinion on, but it is so much easier to write about what you feel especially when this is what matters to you when you are kinesthetic.  Normally boys just get to run this out of their systems on the sports field rather than working through it in english or history class.

It is equally vital to allow us Irish to talk about everything that matters to us in our own unique way.  The Irish have a great gift of the gab, the wit that has a name for every object, landmark and sculpture.  We talk about creativity and innovation, this is a wonderful example of innovation with words.  We can express any situation as a joke.  We have always been gifted story tellers and can spin any yarn.

We are also hugely competitive, hence our many sporting heroes, the mark we leave whatever we set our minds to.  Competition is such a great way to inject energy into any learning environment too.

There is a pride deeply engrained in the Irish and as a result we can never cope with being made a fool of in public.  We may try to joke our way out of any situation but it hurts deeply.  Everyone we have ever spoken to in this country has a school story where they lost face and they have never forgotten it.  This is why we have to focus on the learners always, the real people we are helping to grow and develop.  Everyone is different but we all fall into patterns of behavior that can be accommodated.  You can't just take an education model from one country to another and expect it to work, especially since the models are always developed for the teachers and governments not the students.  There are very simple patterns and learning styles but you have to look for them and you have to use each nations strengths and values to achieve what is important for them, even the Irish.  Happy St. Patrick’s Day from the island of saints and scholars.

Dr. Naoisé O'Reilly & Marie O'Riordan

 

21Sep/12Off

What can Profiling do for a Studnet’s Future Career?

This short video I recorded at the Irish Times Higher Options Conference in RDS explains why profiling is so important for Students early in their education life - You can pursue the Career you were born to do!

2Sep/12Off

Zero Quality Assurance in Leaving Cert Exam Corrections says Leading Academic

Zero Quality Assurance in Leaving Cert Exam Corrections says Leading Academic

 

(Dublin, Ireland, Monday September 3rd 2012).

 

A leading academic has finally been able to prove over the weekend that Ireland’s leaving cert students have been set up to fail due to being left on borderline marks that can make the difference between passing or failing and getting a higher grade.

 

Dr. Naoisé O’Reilly Ph.D is concerned that she has witnessed categorical proof that there’s no consistency within the exam papers which leads to a domino effect and ‘it’s pot luck on how well you do overall in the exams.’

 

The Irish woman says, ‘sure this is going to rock the boat but I’m used to starting national debates and young people’s lives are being messed with here.  Afterall, parents and students don’t have a voice and the majority of teachers I speak with tell me they’re afraid to go out on a limb and stick their neck out.’

 

A simply algorithm could have changed all this and Dr. O’Reilly says, ‘in fact I wrote an algorithm that has been working successfully in an Irish 3rd level institution for a number of years now.’

 

Dr. O’Reilly started computer programming aged 8 despite being written off all the way through school due to a severe learning difficulty.

 

Naoisé looks forward to meeting the Minister for Education Ruairi Quinn later this month and putting a case before him for a decentralised process where schools have more responsibility for the exam process and there can be exceptional quality assurance in place to prevent any inconsistencies.

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Introduction

Welcome to the Purple Learning Project.

The aim of the Purple Learning Project Foundation is to create a legacy of the methods which Dr Naoisé O’Reilly has developed since 2009.

The methods in learning and personality theory have been developed while working with people of a variety of ages, backgrounds, and cultures. The methods have been applied to the education, business and sporting environments. The ages are in the spectrum of 4 to 70's. The methods include: Purple Profiling, Purple Processing Scales, The Periodic Table of the Development of Results, Forget Phonics Reading Method, Purple Pre-School Success and so on...

There has always been a clear distinction for Dr Naosié in working with people who currently need help within the system and leaving behind something of integrity for the future generations.

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