Since the introduction of the new English and Maths GCSEs in 2016, there have been many students panicking about how difficult it will be to reach the top grades. Whilst it is true that less people will score a 9 than would score an A* on the old grading system (which was one of the reasons the system was introduced), it is definitely not impossible. However, you do have to learn how to manage your time and study effectively in order to ensure that you are prepared for anything the exam may throw at you. Don’t worry though, we have 5 great tips to help you along the way!
1. Make a detailed plan of what you are going to study and when
This doesn’t just mean writing down the topics that you are going to study each day; it means the method you are going to use to revise it, the resources you are going to use, and the exact specification points you are going to cover. This allows you to start your study sessions quickly and with minimal time lost to deciding how you are going revise that day. We suggest planning your studies by using the specification to ensure that you cover everything you need to prior to you exams. We have also found that colour coding it can help you to prioritise your revision: by marking topics you know well in green, topics you’re unsure of in yellow and topics you struggle with in red, you can find clear starting points for your revision.
2. Keep your notes organised
I’m not saying that they have to be absolutely perfect, but make sure that you keep them in a place where you can easily find them again. We tend to use a folder and plastic wallets for each topic, some people use an exercise book, whilst some people prefer to store their notes online. By organising them by topic and exam, you can easily refer back to them for a quick refresher or even for help if you’re struggling with a past paper question. If you’re using an exercise book, you may find it helpful to create a contents page, whereas if you’re using a folder, it may be best to invest in some dividers.
3. Talk to your teachers
One of the key things that you should be doing in order to get the top grades is communicating effectively with your teachers.This includes discussing anything that you don’t understand, where you went wrong on tests or even where is the best place to find revision resources. If you mention that you are aiming for a 9 in the subject, some teachers may offer you extra help or revision resources in order to help you get there. If not, they may give you some tips to make sure that your exam technique is up to scratch.
4. Start revising well in advance
Whilst you may think that this is pointless as you’ll forget it all before the exam, continuous revision is key for getting the top grades. By continually revising from the time that you do your mock exams, you can make sure that you can cover everything at least once (and some things more than once if you still don’t understand them). This should also mean that once it gets close to the exam, you are able to focus almost entirely on past paper questions so you can nail your exam technique. This also allows you time to follow up on anything you really don’t understand with your teachers or do extra research on it until you do understand it.
5. Take breaks when studying
This may seem like it’s opposite of what you should be doing, but taking breaks is vital to ensure that you don’t get burnt out. For some people, they find that going for walks or doing exercise is a great way to refocus after spending a lot of time studying. Other people may prefer to play video games or watch something on Netflix. However, one of the key things to remember is that you should set a time limit to this activity. This could mean watching one episode of a TV show for every two hours of work that you do or going out for a couple of hours with your friends once you’ve done half of your revision for the day. Breaks don’t have to be large either, even just getting up to get a drink or going to sit with your family for a few minutes can be enough to help improve your concentration.
Whilst it may seem like getting 9’s is impossible, it certainly isn’t providing you put in the time and effort to manage your studying well. It’s important that you use the support from the people around you to ensure that you don’t get demotivated or stressed out as both of these can have negative impacts on your studying. By keeping on top of your revision from the time that you finish your mock exams, you’ll find that exam time is less rushed and you’re able to focus on the things you really need to work on as opposed to trying to cover everything at once. By following these tips, you should be on the way to the top grades in no time!