You are now approaching the end of your compulsory school life. Eleven whole years. You have been going to school since you were 5…and are now preparing to take your GCSE examinations!
It is really important that you apply yourself fully to the task that lies ahead. We have gathered some information here to help you review your progress, set meaningful targets, organise your revision time and build in some free time to help you relax. Used properly, it will help you feel in control and prevent you from panicking and feeling overwhelmed.
You need to remember that it can be done! All that is needed for you to get the best grades possible is YOURSELF!
Planning your revision
Remember, You are not giving up your free time, you are investing it in your future. So, where do you start?
- Create a revision plan and build in breaks to relax, it will help you manage your time more effectively and identify the subjects you need to prioritise.
- Break down your revision into manageable sections, and learn one at a time.
- Plan to study the most difficult subjects first, and not at the end of the day when you are tired.
- Focus. Twenty minutes of working followed by ten minutes rest is a good plan to start with.
- Set achievable targets and review your progress as you go along.
- Collaborate with some of your friends and classmates, learning together will help.
- Practice. One of the best recommendations from past GCSE students is to practice doing as many GCSE past papers as you can.
- Understand your learning style, everyone is different. Click here to find out which category you think you fall into.
- Mix up your studying methods; past papers, podcasts, videos, online study groups or even something as simple as different coloured notes for different subjects.
Coping with exam stress
If you’re feeling stressed about the thought of the exams that lie ahead you’re not alone. You may be worrying you’re going to fail or won’t achieve the grades you need for the course or job you want, but we’ve got some really helpful advice for coping and some great websites to take a look at.
Bottling up stress and trying to deal with it on your own can often make the stress worse, it can really help to talk. Exam stress can motivate you to work harder but excessive anxiety can cause; lack of sleep, poor appetite, increased heart rate and migraines or headaches.
- Make sure you get enough sleep, it will help keep you focused and concentrate better.
- Eat the right foods. Following a healthy, balanced diet and avoiding stimulants such as coffee will be really beneficial.
- Get some exercise, revising for hours on end can be an unproductive waste of time and actually set you back. Exercise will boost brain activity and improve memory.
Advice for parents/carers
Parents and carers can help by watching out for signs of stress. Children who experience stress may; worry unnecessarily, be irritable, lose interest in food or eat more than normal, appear negative and low in their mood, suffer from headaches or stomach pains.
Having someone to talk to and support from a parent/carer can really help so encourage them them to talk to you. Some other simple steps you can take are;
- Ensure they have a balanced diet, it is vital for your child’s health and can help them feel well during their exams.
- Help them to get enough sleep. Good sleep will improve their concentration. Most teenagers need between 8 and 10 hours sleep per night.
- Be flexible and calm. If your child has been revising all day maybe those household jobs can wait a while.
- Help them to study. Making sure they have somewhere quiet and comfortable to revise will really help.
- Encourage them to get some exercise. It really helps boost energy levels, relieve stress and clear the mind.
The day of your exam
You’ve done all your revision and studied hard to get here. Follow our advice to make sure you remain calm and everything goes without a hitch.
- Make sure you’ve had enough sleep the night before. Staying up late to cram is not a good idea. Get to bed early and plan an earlier waking time…set that alarm!
- Arrive on time. Plan your travel and aim to get there at least 10-15 minutes before the start of your exam.
- Plan your equipment. Make sure you pack everything you need and don’t leave it until the morning of the exam.
- Read every question carefully. If you rush, you may read it incorrectly and provide an answer that isn’t suitable.
- Review your answers. Check for spelling errors and expand your answer if you think it will add value. If it is a Maths paper do your calculations again just to double check you didn’t make any mistakes.
- Stop and think. If your mind goes blank during the exam, stop, do a simple breathing exercise to focus and then read through the question. If it helps, move on to a question you know you can answer and then move back to the trickier stuff later.
- Stay for the whole exam. Even if you have finished writing, read your paper over again. You may be surprised how much you could add in those last few minutes and it could gain you a few more marks.
- Stay calm and focus…the best advice of all!