It’s been ten years since I took my GCSE examinations in an ancient wooden hall that seemed eternally frozen at one degree Celsius, even on the hottest of summer days. My stomach would lurch at the ominous rustle of those far-too-white examination booklets, and I still get the occasional nightmare about that infinite, drawn out moment just before the teacher booms "you may begin".
So, who better to coach you through your GCSE examinations than someone who can now look at an exam paper, roll up her sleeves and laugh in its face? Yes, me. Mocks are mocks, and therefore not the real thing. So with that out of the way, let’s get to it, shall we? Here are my top tips on how to get through your GCSE mock examinations.
1) Know that “failure” is a good thing.
“I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work.” ― Thomas A. Edison
Our concept of failure ought to be redefined. The gap between what you were hoping to achieve, and what you actually achieve, is ripe with opportunity. Your mock exams are a brilliant opportunity to assess yourself on: 1) what revision techniques and strategies work for you 2) where the gaps in understanding are 3) how well you are able to concentrate and stick to a revision timetable, 4) your examination technique, and 5) which subjects you are really starting to love.
If you don’t get the grade you wanted, buy a chocolate bar, eat it, and then speak to an education professional (here's one) about how and where to improve.
2) Make a revision timetable that actually looks fun.
I would suggest making a colour-coded revision table at least a month in advance of when your mocks are due to start. Email me at email@example.com for your free GCSE mock examination revision timetable.
Divide each subject into sub-topics to revise, and prioritise the areas you are most concerned about. If you are unsure of the content, head to the exam board website for the full syllabus.
Using a spreadsheet so that things can be easily tweaked, sketch out a timetable starting at 08:00 and finishing at 20:00. It is important to be realistic about what time you’ll be studying at your desk, and to ensure you get enough sleep throughout the revision period.
Start by scheduling the fun stuff. Carve out Friday evening for dinner with friends, and be sure to include all your extra-curricular activities. These will keep you sane.
Then schedule in the sub-topics / past papers / tutoring sessions. Ideally, these revision bursts will range between 40 - 60 minutes in duration, with breaks in between.
Don’t be too hard on yourself if you are unable to complete all the revision tasks you set for yourself. Your health and wellbeing should remain the number one priority. See picture below on zen posture for when you're stressed.
3) Use a range of resources to revise.
The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go.” ― Dr. Seuss
Finding resources that make learning more enjoyable than just rewriting notes is the key to unlocking genuine motivation. Finding these resources now, rather than at the end of term, will save a lot of time and stress later on. The following may not work for all, but they are worth experimenting with. If you have anything to add, please comment below this article to help others!
Quizlet to make flashcards. Great for all subjects - particularly memorising definitions, new vocabulary or equations, for example.
Khan Academy for STEM subjects. Note they use the US curriculum, however still largely useful.
BBC Bitesize for all GCSE subjects. Includes short quizzes and tests and overall is a brilliant resource.
Download Language Reactor so that you can watch all your favourite Netflix shows in a foreign language (but not Squid Games, bleak).
Tutor2u is great for revision notes and has some great explanations for Economics and Business, for example.
TedEd talks for when you get bored, but still want to learn. Procrastination made intellectual. You’re welcome.
Good old fashioned mind maps, the sticking of post-it notes around the house (apologies parents), reading of past notes and/or exam past paper mark schemes.
4) There is nothing wrong with seeking help.
“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” — Benjamin Franklin
Asking for help when you are well and truly stuck is fundamentally not a weakness. It is a good habit to get into, and is an opportunity to enhance your learning further. First, consult your notes, and fish around for the answer in your pack of revision resources. If you are struggling further, speak to your classmates and school teacher about what you might be missing.
If that doesn’t work, and you are looking for a qualified mentor to help organise your thoughts, plan your revision timetable, and work through the content at a pace and technique that suits your learning style — get in touch with OLEA Education at +44 7563414137 or firstname.lastname@example.org
5) Look after yourself.
The Guardian recently published a superb article on how to live a better life without really trying. Please please read this, absorb it and then choose three suggestions to start incorporating into your life ... and then email me for your free revision timetable! ;)