Grind schools charging up to €7,000 a year are reporting a surge in demand amid signs the parents are willing to spend whatever it takes to boost their children’s chances of exam success.
Not every parent can afford or even access grinds. Thanks to digital technology, however, companies and revision websites are helping to democratise the market for students who might otherwise not be able to afford the extra tuition that their peers take for granted.
But, in such a crowded market with some significant new players, what stands out? We took a look at some of the top revision and study sites for Irish secondary school students, including some newcomers to the market.
There is a wealth of new online supports – some free, some with premium levels – aimed at exam-year students. Here are some of the best:
[ Studyclix.ie ]
This was founded by Sligo-based teacher Luke Saunders and web developer Keith Wright in 2012 and has become the most popular of Ireland's study websites.
The site has expanded to cover almost all Leaving and Junior Cert subjects, each of which is broken down topic by topic. Learning tools include a combination of notes, videos, past exam questions and a forum where students can help each other to learn. Marking schemes are also available on the site. StudyClix offers a basic free package.
For €35, there’s a paid version which gives students a StudyClix Plus account for 12 months with access to past papers, questions by topics, marking schemes and more. Finally, there’s a premium version for €55 which includes access to past mock papers.
[ Examlearn.ie ]
This started life as a Transition Year project for Jack Manning and his classmates at Clonkeen College in Deansgrange, south Dublin.
In the beginning, it provided Junior Cert notes, but it quickly expanded to cover Leaving Cert revision notes. The content was primarily developed by secondary students and for secondary school students, and features quizzes, a free exam paper finder, exam topic section and, best of all, over 250 free maths tutorials on YouTube.
The site offers detailed notes across nine subjects, A-grade sample answers, past exam papers, e-quizzes, questions by topic and study advice. Outside the free content, €40 allows students access to all content for a year.
[ HomeSchool.ie ]
This is a new player in the market and has a very fresh and interesting offering. Established by former teacher Paul Kelly, the site is an online tuition service providing lessons and teacher support at primary and secondary level. Each week, students receive a pre-recorded video lesson alongside interactive PDF notes and sample answers.
The teacher is on hand to guide students through any tricky areas and sets a weekly homework task. The entire syllabus is covered in a single year, making it a particularly good option for a student who wants to study a subject that isn’t offered by their school.
The cost for these one-on-one grinds is €99 per subject per year – it’s significantly cheaper than traditional grinds while still providing individualised attention.
[ Jumpagrade ]
It asks students to complete a needs analysis, helping identify where they need the most help and support. Tutors then allocate homework, with students uploading photos of their work and receiving personalised feedback within 48 hours.
Students can review all their work on a personalised dashboard. Parents may love that they are cc’d in on all emails (although students may have reservations about this).
The cost is €25 per subject per week for a basic service and €55 per week for a premium service with study plan and personalised revision notes. The company says it is also offering a novel guarantee: any student who does not reach their target grade in Leaving Cert and Junior Cert exams will get their money back.
[ StudyNotes.ie ]
This site offers revision notes, flashcards, quizzes, a study planner, discussion forum, video tutorials and a note-taking facility.
Both students and teachers can use the platform to share their notes and resources, which are vetted by a team of educators before going on the site. The site covers most of the Leaving and Junior Cert exam subjects but is dependent on what has been uploaded, and the quality of the content can vary. Unlike the other players in the market, however, StudyNotes.ie is free.
Other honourable mentions
ExamSupport.ie With over 400 hours of video and tutorials, as well as exam answers.
iRevise.com Formerly Mocks.ie, this site offers free and premium options with notes, sample answers and video tutorials.
Mindmaps LeavingCertMindMaps.ie and JuniorCertMindMaps.ie, a highly-effective visual learning aid with prices starting from €9.95 per map.
LeavingCertIrish.com Stuck with your sraith pictiúr? Anxious about your orals? John Gavin's excellent site offers free notes and supports – while there is a premium section for more detailed support.
The MathsTutor.ie This video-based site helps simply complex maths challenges at Junior and Leaving Cert level.
Study skills and time management
All the notes in the world will be of little use if students can’t manage to stay focused, put the phone aside and study effectively. Here are some worth checking out:
ExamStudyPlus This website uses a tried-and-tested system devised by Kevin Flanagan, author of the bestselling book Maximum Points, Minimum Panic, which focuses on note-taking for top grades, distraction-free study, retaining information, learning while you relax and answering exam questions. The course costs €29, or for €8 per month students can get the full course plus access to coaching with study experts.
MyStudyPal.ie This newcomer has a different offering. Designed by 19-year-old student Mark Nealon, it helps plan the revision timetable by topic, devise a personalised study plan and track study progress. Social plans can be added to the calendar too. The site offers a free 30-day trial, and after that it's €29.99 per year for students.
CleverNotes.ie This is a simple and free site offering advice on taking good notes efficiently.
There’s a heavy curriculum focus on most of the learning sites here, but there are many international apps and websites that can be excellent learning supports for both primary and secondary school students.
KhanAcademy.org This site produces short educational YouTube videos and is by far the most familiar and successful. It is used to provide or supplement education to people of all ages across the world; it's also very popular with teachers in the classroom.
Alison.com This Galway-based e-learning provider with more than 1,000 free courses is available for over 11 million registered learners, who have access to courses from universities and private companies across the world.
Duolingo.com Duolingo.comLast year, Junior Cert student Eimear Kennedy got top marks for Italian – even though it wasn't even on the curriculum at her school. Instead, she studied using the Duolingo website and app, and then moved on to YouTube clips and finally Italian pop music and television.
Have you got an app or website to recommend? Tweet @PeterMcGuireIE to spread the word