English Language GCSE – Revision tips

Preparing for your English Language GCSE can be a scary time. But it doesn’t have to be.

Tavistock Tutors are here with some top tips to help you ace your way to a 9. With these revision tips, you should sail through the English language GCSE!

Traffic lights

At first all of your revision can seem so daunting – where do you even begin?

A handy tip to get you started is to use the traffic light colour coding system to work out where to begin your revision. Print out your specification and grab three different colour highlighters/pens/pencils. Go through your specification with each colour and rank them in how confident you feel.

Use your green for subjects that you feel confident with and red for those that you’re finding difficult. Then once you have gone through your specification (or list of papers) you’ll know what to prioritise.

Tackle the habit of just revising what you’re used to, and instead start revising those topics that you’ve highlighted in red. This will ensure that you cover your weak spots and have a more well-rounded coverage of knowledge ready for the exam.

Timetable your way to success

If you haven’t already done so, an essential revision tool for English language GCSE is a revision timetable.

You can do this however you’d like – there’s plenty online that have a basic framework, or if you prefer to jot things down, maybe you could get some coloured pens and make one yourself.

When preparing a revision timetable, a great idea is to schedule by week, and have slots for different parts of the day.

Make sure that schedule in breakfast, lunch and a snack in the afternoon to keep yourself going. It’s always a good idea to try and schedule in a small 5-minute break every hour when you can get up and move around!

You could even try to colour code your subjects so that each subject has a different colour, this should make it easier when viewing your timetable to distinguish what you should be doing for that allotted time.

Make sure that you’re not making an unrealistic or unattainable schedule, as you definitely won’t be able to stick to it. Make sure you get plenty of breaks and that you’re not exhausting yourself with revision. Research has shown that regular study breaks and getting enough sleep are really important in keeping your mind fresh in order to process the information you have revised.

Nothing ever goes entirely to plan, so it’s also a good idea to have some allotted time somewhere which can be used to go back over revision materials or to finish work that you didn’t get a chance to finish.

Practise makes perfect

To feel as calm and confident as you can when you sit down to take the exam, plan as many pastpaper questions as you can. This will ensure you are familiar with exactly what the paper involves.

See our ‘English Language GCSE past papers’ resource bank, where you can find all of the past papers for your exam board, alongside some Tavistock Tutors top tips!

You will have a better, clearer understanding of the question style and will know exactly how long to spend on each question. It is a good idea to know how long you need to leave for reading, planning and writing in the exam – maybe bring in your own watch so you feel more comfortable.

Stand out from the crowd

As one of thousands of students across the country taking the same exam paper, you need to make sure that you grab the examiner’s attention (for all the right reasons of course!).

A few simple ways to do this might be to plan different opening sections for both the fiction and non-fiction parts of the exam. For instance, in the fiction paper you could try to include a bold statement in your opening, to draw the reader’s attention in automatically.

Make sure that you use the MRS FORLAP technique to cover a vast range of literary techniques within your writing, which will demonstrate to your examiner that you have a good understanding of how to write effectively.

Language devices

To maximise your marks in the language paper, get familiar with plenty of language techniques which feature in both fiction and non-fiction. By visiting our ‘English GCSE Analysis toolkit’ and using the MRS FORLAP technique, you’ll have a checklist to hand.

When it comes to the exam, you will have a vast knowledge of literary techniques, and you’ll be able to use to correct vocabulary to successfully analyse the extracts.

Another helpful exercise is to practice your summarising skills. In your language paper you will need to be able to summarise the main points and arguments within a text, and this is a great skill to master. By practicing your summarising skills with a newspaper or online media outlet, you can read a few articles and week and highlight the main points concisely. This will enable you to make quick progress!

With the same articles, you could even attempt to write a response in different styles such as a speech, journal entry, letter or magazine article so you feel comfortable with forming original content which can be adapted to suit difference purposes or audiences – useful for the writing part of your exam!

Spice up your life with some variety!

Even superman can get bored of revising, so why not keep things interesting?

Scientific research has found that once you repeat something in three different ways, it’s more likely to stick in your memory. If you’re getting bored of writing monotonous notes, why not try something new?

Try reading over your class notes to go through the content, and then try and make exciting revision tools that are more exciting. By condensing your notes into different forms, you will be revising the material multiple times.

If you’re a visual learner, try and get some colours involved by making a big mind-map. Once you’ve completed your masterpiece, try and turn it over and redraw it from memory – you’ll be surprised how much you remember!

Or maybe you learn better when you’re listening to something? There’s plenty of online resources which you can listen or watch to learn about how to improve your language skills. Another great tip is creating a presentation which you can show to your guardian/ your dog/ or maybe just the wall?! By producing a presentation, you are actively seeking to inform the audience and you will simultaneously be reteaching yourself. If you read it aloud, it will stick in your memory even better!

By using all of these different techniques, you’ll be maximising your revision time and also making revision a little less boring!

And finally …don’t panic 

Exam papers aren’t meant to be easy.

They’re designed to allow you to show us what you can do. Examiners are not trying to catch you out, they’re trying to help you achieve as many marks as possible. Use past papers and sample assessment materials to hone your skills before the exams.

If you answer the questionsthey ask in a calm and methodical way, and try your best, then no one can ask for anything more. Good Luck!

Additional resources:

English Language GCSE Past Papers
English Literature GCSE Revision Tips
English Revision Guide

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