The new daily grinds: online and on your terms
Shopping, dating, banking, telly: it’s all online now, so why should exam study be any different? The Leaving Cert might be a primitive exercise in paper and ink but there are more and more ways of getting your Leaving Cert fix on your laptop, tablet or even on your phone.
Online grinds, poetry and maths support, exam papers, marking schemes, quizzes and notes: online exam content is mushrooming across the web. Much of it is free or comes at a fraction of the cost of a grind school or personal tutor, but is the screen experience as good as the real thing? In some cases, might it even be better? We asked five Leaving Cert students to test-drive a selection of websites and apps aimed at the frazzled exam student. Here’s what they thought.
Reviewed by Jennifer Kilduff, Loreto Abbey, Dalkey, Co Dublin
Online grinds? I had never even heard of the likes before last week. Before going online I feared the worst: an intimate webchat with a complete stranger. However, once I’d set up my profile on onlinegrinds.ieand checked the site out, my fears fell away as I realised it was something else entirely.
I decided on maths, and clicked into the lecture. It was streamed live and there was also an instant chat facility on the page for any questions. This is a particularly pertinent for keyboard warriors: I could ask all the questions I wanted with no risk of getting exasperated looks from my classmates.
Another advantage was that there is no need to travel. I could watch my grind on my sofa with a cup of tea. It’s quite good value as well, with a 70-minute grind costing only €10.
If I had to pick a flaw, it’s that the website isn’t too user-friendly, but it isn’t impossible to navigate. It’s worth noting that this site covers both higher and ordinary level for Leaving Cert.
Overall, I found the idea quite interesting. I would definitely recommend this site to anyone who is easily bored in large classes. The classes are quite small. They play music videos during the breaks as well, and there’s always a competition to win more tokens. Worth checking out.
Price 70-minute grind for €10
Reviewed by Isobel Gregg, Loreto Abbey, Dalkey, Co Dublin
Mocks.ieis a website and app aimed at helping Junior and Leaving Certificate students with their exam preparation. It offers a variety of free online materials which students can access once they’ve registered. Most of the materials are free but students have to pay for extra notes, correction services and mock orals. There is also a free smartphone app for study on the go.
What makes this website great is its accessibility. I have had the mocks.ieapp for several months now and it allows me easy access to past exam papers and marking schemes. On the app and website the past papers are organised by subject rather than by year.
When you select a subject on mocks.ie, each paper is accompanied by general info on the subject, key definitions and a breakdown of the exam layout. The exam breakdown I found particularly useful for subjects such as applied maths where each question relates to the same topic every year.
Apart from exam papers, mocks.iealso allows users access past aurals, multiple-choice questions (MCQs), revision notes, mock exam papers and mock orals. I sampled a few aurals but found that they were too simplified to prepare properly for the real aurals. They were useful to listen to the language and get used to the questions but the multiple-choice layout made it a lot easier than the real Leaving Cert aural. The MCQs are great for quick revision but I did find one or two mistakes so keep an eye out for that and report it.
You have to buy revision notes, mock papers and orals. I did not buy any notes as I prefer to write my own but the free sample notes seem to be well written. If you would like to see how you are doing in a subject, a mock is a good place to start, with mocks.iealso offering you the opportunity to send off the paper to get marked by a qualified teacher. You get a grade and feedback.