It can be daunting starting your GCSE year – you are probably wondering what to expect and how you can do well. Our top tips that will enable you to plan and organise your workload so that it is manageable for you.
- Create a revision timetable
Creating a revision timetable is a good way to begin as it will give you some structure. This will allow you to organise your time effectively. If you find one subject generally more difficult than another, you can allocate a little extra time for that subject.
Make sure that your timetable is realistic and that you factor in time for breaks and social activities. By doing this you will be more productive in the long run; returning to your desk feeling refreshed.
- Understand your learning style
Understanding your learning style – whether you are auditory, kinaesthetic or visual learner or a mixture of the learning styles – will help you immensely. Once you understand how you learn you can research the most effective revision techniques to suit your learning style, meaning you will find it much easier to remember the information.
If you have an auditory learning style you might like to try grabbing your headphones and listening to podcasts.
With a visual learning style, the internet is your friend with lots of videos and images at your fingertips. Practice creating mind maps for any essay subject that might come up in the exam so that you can quickly re-draw it to refer to at the top of your exam paper.
As a kinesthetic learner, revise with friends, try using revision flashcards and model building – and remember to take 5 minute breaks.
Once you have realised your learning style you will really begin to see results quickly.
- Work in study groups
Sometimes it can be hard to motivate yourself when you are revising alone. If you are finding it hard to tackle the revision on your own, join a revision holiday camp or an after school study club. Not only will this help to absorb the information, but it will also boost your social skills, teamwork and collaboration.
In a group, you will be able to test each other, exchange tips and encourage one another. Helping to explain a concept to someone else will also help cement it in your memory and understand it better.
Knowledge sharing will help you:
✔ Stay motivated
✔ Increase productivity
✔ Create a sense of purpose
✔ Generate new ideas
✔ Develop new skills
- Set short-term and long-term goals
Time management is crucial when revising for your GCSEs – you will probably never have to study so many subjects at once again!
Setting clear goals will help you remain focused and motivated. The goals can be small, daily goals that are achievable and so add to your confidence when you see yourself complete them and tick them off.
The goals can also be long-term. What is your dream job or university? This vision will drive you on to do your best.
- Take regular breaks
Breaks are essential to effective study. You need to move around every 30 minutes or so, otherwise you will feel tired and lethargic. Even if it is just a short walk around the room, stretching or yoga, you will feel the benefits
You also need rest break cognitively. Our brains consume large amounts of energy, so part of the process of revising is feeling tired.
Before you take a break, quickly test yourself on what you have just been going through – known as ‘overlearning’ – and make a note of where you are up to so you don’t lose your momentum when you return.
During your study break, go outside for a walk, check into social media, watch some Netflix, or have a snack and a drink. Make sure you are strict with yourself and set an alarm on your phone so you know when the time is up. When you get back to your desk, go over what you were previously learning once more to ensure you have absorbed it.
- GCSE practice papers will be your best friend
Download some GCSE practice papers from the internet to regularly test yourself. There is usually a finite way of testing something, so you will find that the same questions are rephrased time and time again.
Do as many practice papers as you can and you will eventually get a feel for the way the examiners are testing students knowledge on certain topics. When you are eventually sitting in your exam, you may find the questions familiar.
- Start your GCSE revision early, but not too early
This depends on the individual so put some careful thought into when you start revising. Some students find that they forget what they have learnt if they start revising too early. Others find comfort in starting as early as possible so they feel prepared and can take it slowly.
Revise for your mock exams and any school tests like it is your real exam, as this will help you revise in advance.
Put as much effort as you can into any course work, as this will help your final grade.
- Ask for help if you need it
Never feel afraid to ask a teacher to explain something if you haven’t understood it. If you feel you are struggling, talk to your teachers and your parents. Perhaps you can start some extra tuition at weekends and school holidays to build up your confidence?
It is also important to ask for help if you are struggling emotionally. Maybe you have grasped the lessons, but you are struggling with anxiety, nerves or lack of confidence? Talk to your teachers, friends or parents and share how you are feeling.
- Stay cool
Don’t panic, don’t worry and stay calm. With a clear, peaceful mind you will be able to be more productive.
Students have different methods of relaxation. Some find they relax the more they revise and get under their belt. Just by recording how many study hours you have put in is enough to quell any nerves and boost confidence, whilst others find that joining a study camp or after school club reassures them.
Most students find that taking a break helps relax them. There are many different extracurricular activities that can help during a break – it depends on the individual. Examples include:
- Playing a musical instrument
Not only will these extracurricular activities help you to unwind and de-stress, they will also look impressive on your university application if they are chosen carefully.