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Self-help Strategies

Students who learn aurally

If you learn more through aural than from written information, think of using tapes of lectures, taping notes and find out in any of your texts are available  in alternative formats, such as audio or digital.  You could use screen reading software and have text read to you by the computer.  Get involved in discussions of topics with tutors and fellow students.  Study groups can be very helpful.  Repeat material to be learnt aloud.  Read drafts of essays aloud to see if they make sense.  You may even spot spelling errors aurally which you miss visually.

Students who learn visually

Some students have strong visual memory.  This can be used when learning.  Some students can recall the look of a page of notes which assists in the recall of the content of the page.  Make use of colour, bullet points, margins, headings, diagrams and illustrations when making notes.  Concept mapping, e.g. mind-mapping, may also be useful.

Difficulty with Text

Some students may have difficulty in deciphering the meaning of complex texts.  They may have to reread passages several times.  Do ask for help and direction.  Ask that reading lists highlight the essential texts to be read.  Always know your purpose in reading a text.  Make notes as you read.  Reading the text aloud can sometimes help comprehension.  If the type is very small, have it enlarged.  Try to do your reading early in the day when your concentration and energy levels are better.  At second level make use of the revision guides, e.g. “Less Stress More Success”, “Rapid Revision”, “Revise Wise” – they are a condensed version of each subject requiring less reading.  Screen reading software, e.g. TextHelp, ClaroRead and Kurzweil, can be useful. These programmes will read any material on the computer screen aloud, e.g. an essay, an internet page, a chapter of a book which you have scanned.


If spelling difficulties remain, develop strategies to manage them.  Ask others to proof-read documents.  Use a spell checker on the computer or an electronic dictionary.  Keep a list of important new words to learn.  Ask that examiners be informed about and considerate of your spelling difficulties.  Some students may qualify for a spelling and grammar waiver in exams.

In a number of courses spelling might be critical to success such as medical or paramedical courses where the correct spelling of drugs or conditions is essential, or teaching where a teacher is expected to be able to spell correctly in front of the class.  In these cases it will be necessary to develop strategies to ensure spelling accuracy.


Some students find it difficult to retain information over time. Strategies which might help include:

  • Good note-taking skills so that notes are clear and comprehensible.
  • Learning the notes – some students feel that once the notes are written and filed the work is done.  Notes must be learnt.  This can be done by oral recital or writing them out again.  Mnemonics may help.
  • Regular revision is essential.  A topic needs to be revised on a frequent basis.  A plan could entail learning the material on the night of the lecture, a weekly revision of new material learnt and a monthly revision of the month’s work.  Each time you revise it will take a shorter time.
  • Make sure you understand what you are learning as this makes it much easier to memorise.

Source: “Lost for Words: Dyslexia At Second Level and Beyond” by Wyn McCormack.

Asking for Help

It may be helpful for you to ask for help in your school. This form, downloadable below, may assist you in doing this.

Asking for Help Form


Useful websites for study skills and revision (Junior Cert. and Leaving Cert.):

There are many  useful web resources available providing study skills advice and revision aids – the file below contains further information.

Student study skills handout 2020 (PDF format)

Revision books guide 2020 (PDF format)


Accessing Digital Copies of Textbooks:

Access to digital copies of second level textbooks is constantly improving, and digital copies can be used with screen reading software to have the textbooks read out to you – the file below contains further information.

Accessing digital copies of books 2019 (PDF format)

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DAI activities are part-funded by the Department of Housing, Planning, Community and Local Government (Scheme to Support National Organisations 2016-2019 administered by Pobal), the Special Education Section of the Department of Education and Skills, SOLAS and KWETB.