Chapter 5: GCSE prep

By the time GCSEs come about, students will have had a good few years break since their last formal exam, so they’re bound to feel a bit out of their depth.

GCSEs don’t necessarily test knowledge as much as they test the ability to retain information from multiple subjects and apply it where necessary, so long-term revision is crucial.

1) Be organised from the get go

Without the right organisation, students could seriously jeopardise their chances of doing well. As soon as the exam timetables are released, students should follow these steps:

• Buy a diary – schedule in every exam and work out exactly how much time there is before the first one. This will help to divide the weeks and days, and make sure every subject gets the right amount of attention.

• Prioritise – which are your strong subjects? Spend less time on these and give attention to the topics that you really struggle with. Rank them in a list and make sure that everything you find difficult is given extra study hours.

• Timetable – make a revision timetable, scheduling every day to the clock, like this:

By organising your day with timings and breaks, you are more likely to stick to the schedule.

You can use every “work slot” as a marker to study a different topic, so that you get through multiple subject areas per day.

2) Learn how to control your stress

GCSEs are probably the first exams where students will panic and feel stressed. It’s unavoidable, but possible to control, especially with a few of these tips and tricks on how to relieve exam stress:

• During revision, stop when it gets too much – if you’ve had a long day and you feel tired, or like you’re not retaining information, make sure you stop working. You’ll be much more productive the next day or after a break.

• Go to bed early – there’s no use in staying up all night working. Get early nights and you’ll feel more relaxed.

• Do not cram – this is an inefficient way of revising. Start working far in advance for the best chances of success in your exams.

• Revise in a place where you feel productive – don’t work in front of the TV or in a noisy environment. Many people prefer to work at big tables or in front of a window, so that they feel less closed in when studying.

• Don’t be too hard on yourself – there are always going to be questions in the exam that you won’t know. Move on and come back to them, do your best to answer them, but don’t about it! One question is only a tiny percentage of your mark.