How to Do Well In Your GCSE Exams!
This Article was written by Saira Gothey, Year 12
Whether it’s the end of year mocks, a final exam or even just an end of topic test, we all want to ace our tests. However, you will most likely find that in some subjects, this is easier said than done. From a student who got straight grade 8s and 9s, here are a few tips to help you with your GCSEs!
Let’s start off with a few general pointers that can be applied to all of your subjects:
Make sure you are revising for all of your topic tests: although this may sound like a no-brainer, this will really help you out in the long run. If you ensure that you are staying on top of things from the start, you’ll find that revising for your exams will be less stressful as all your resources have already been prepared and organised.
Having clear and concise notes: if you prefer to write out your own notes, make sure that you are only including what is necessary. It’s also a good idea to check the specification to make sure that you’ve covered everything that you need to know.
Use active revision techniques: instead of just reading over your notes, use techniques that help you to answer questions from different topics and test your knowledge. One of these that many people find to be useful is flashcards.
Past papers are your best friend: we all know by now that one of the most useful things to use when revising is past paper questions. One of the best things that you can do once you’ve marked these is to take note of your weak points and work on those.
Make sure you are balancing your time: one of the worst things you could do to yourself in the time before an important exam is put yourself through burnout. To avoid this, make sure you aren’t revising at a rate that is causing you to feel more and more exhausted until you can no longer concentrate and bring yourself to study. Reward yourself with a break every once in a while and do something that you enjoy!
Now, we’ll move on to some tips that are specific to core subjects and a couple others.
The best way to revise for Maths is to just practise doing as many questions as you can. The more questions you answer, the more familiar you will become with certain types of questions. You may also want to make a quick “cheat sheet” so that when you come back to revise a topic, you already have a quick reference.
English Language and Literature
For English Language and English Literature, make sure you understand the context and main themes of any texts you are required to know. It often helps to create theme/character profiles and collect a few points or quotes to support your point.
In English, answering past papers and asking a teacher for some feedback can often be helpful to give yourself some guidance as to where you’re losing marks. Over time, you can focus on these weaknesses more in your writing and try to improve.
I believe that another thing that can really help you for both English courses is to ensure that you’ve done your absolute best on writing your coursework pieces, as these do impact your final GCSE grade. Since these are done over a long period of time, you can keep getting feedback and tweaking it so that, even if you don’t do so well on the final exam, you’ll hopefully be able to rely on your coursework to carry your grade.
For science, it’s important that you can understand any concepts and remember the formulae that you aren’t given. It's really helpful to do past paper questions when revising as a lot of questions tend to repeat themselves over the years. You should also make sure you know any key/required terminology as the mark scheme can often be quite strict, especially in Biology, for example, with osmosis.
In History, I found it really helpful to go through the specification and collect points on different sub-topics and collect these points into specific effects. For example, if my sub-topic was Nazi employment policies, my effect may be how these made Germany more self-sufficient and gather a few facts for this point. What I found to be helpful was to write the topic on flashcards and try to remember an effect and some points for this (which were on the other side of the card).
In Business, I used a very similar technique to what I did in History. I would simply choose a topic, such as cash flow forecasts, then write a short definition or explanation of what the topic was and a couple of advantages and disadvantages on the topic onto a flashcard.
freesciencelessons.co.uk - I found this to be one of the most helpful revision sources during my GCSEs and I still use it in my A-Levels now
physicsandmathstutor.com - This site is great for past papers and pre-made revision notes and flashcards
savemyexams.co.uk - This also a good source of revision notes and questions
Youtube: First Rate Tutors - This channel has some really good explanations of texts in English Lit and Lang