Wednesday, 25 March 2015

GCSE Revision tips*


So at this time in the year most kids in England will have started or are just about to start taking there exams. This isn't just for people in the UK, I just don't know when other countries take their exams. Enough rambling, basically I wanted to give you all some revision tips and exam tips that I picked up when I was at school.

I left school nearly two years ago now and I know just how stressful exams are, the amount of revision seems unbearable and its not really the thing you want to do. But don't stress, with these little tips and tricks hopefully it will make it a little bit easier to revise and it make make your exams less stressful.

So the subjects I did at school were as follows | 
English language, English literature, Maths, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, French, History, Art, Textiles, ICT and Sport.

Now in England (I don't know about other countries) some of the subjects incorporate coursework into your final grade, this means that you can do a good portion of the work without the stress of an exam. I found coursework much easier because I didn't have the stress that I only had a certain amount of time.

The only subject I did that only relied on an exam paper was Maths. In maths you get two papers, calculator and non calculator. I need to stress the importance with the maths exam. You don't just need the right answers, you get marks for showing your workings out. Even if you don't know the answer please attempt the question and at least try to work it out. It doesn't matter if you get the answer wrong, if your workings out are right then you will get marks so always attempt the question. Now normally the last 1/4 of the papers are the hardest in Maths. You might be super smart and understand it, but for me this was the hardest part. My only advice would be to not panic. If you really don't know just write down any number that you think of because it could be right.

For all my other subjects there was an element of coursework. Art, ICT and Sport were all coursework based which was very helpful to me. For those of you who might not be familiar with this, coursework is basically a collecting of essays or work. In sport there were a lot of sheets to fill out and a few PowerPoint's to make, I didn't pick to do sport but they made all of my year do it anyway.

 For the people who think art will be an easy subject, think again. I loved drawing and painting before taking this as a GCSE but when your using your work as an exam piece then it gets much harder. Its not just drawing a picture, you have themes to work around, you need to have a very detailed theory piece with each picture and you have to do a hell of a lot of artist research on artist that there is not a lot of information about. I also had days where you planned out you final piece and spent the day in silence creating the masterpiece (or pile or crap in my case, I was never that good at making things).

ICT is one of the easiest things I think there is. You just get a lot of tasks to be done on the computer but you need to make sure you screen shot everything, you will be sick of the button by the end but the more units you complete the more GCSE's you will get. I did most of my work for ICT after school with a few classmates. I managed to get all my ICT coursework finished months ahead of the other people in my class which meant with permission from my teacher, I could do coursework for other lessons during my ICT classes.

For all the other subjects you had to do coursework and exams so I'm going to give you some little tips that you might find helpful.

Revision |
I always found it useful to look at past papers. Ask your teacher or look online at the last two years exam papers. A little hint our teachers told us was that if for the last two years the topics had been similar then they would probably be different this time. Make sure you know a good amount about each topic that could come up. You need to be prepare for anything they have, also past papers will help you with revision as you can see the types of questions they ask and how they word them.

Print of all your revision information and turn your computer and phone off. The amount of times I got distracted by twitter or facebook is to much to think about. In an exam hall you won't have any distractions so why would you revise while on twitter. Make sure you focus on your revision as you could miss something really important.

Time table |
Plan a revision time table. Look at your exam timetable and then work out a revision plan. If you have a week of science exams and nothing else then spend the majority of your time going over science. I would still advise do a little revision for everything ting just so it stays fresh in your mind , but make a revision timetable so you know what to focus on more.

Take a break |
Make sure you take a break every now and then, you don't want to spend hours glued to a revision book without relaxing. Now when I say relax I don't mean put the book down and take a nap, I mean a little 5 minute tea break. Its important to keep your mind awake and refreshed and I used to switch off if I revised for to long.

Revision cards |
Make little revision cards for each subjects and put on there key dates, important facts or even scientific compounds. Its easier to take in information some times if its in short little points. Also you can use theses with your friends to help test each other on what you know. Heres a link to some cheap blank revisions card on Amazon

Coursework |

Give it your all|
My first but of advice is to give your coursework everything you've got. It might seem like a waste of time but for some subjects coursework can be worth up to 60% of your final grade so if you get the high marks on coursework then if you get a low mark on the exam it could all balance out to a decent grade.

Teachers and mark schemes |
Make sure you have a good understanding of what you need to do. I found it really helpful talking to my teachers and asking for the marking scheme. This sounds cheeky but ask them because than you will know what they look for to award the high marks. Just to let you know the mark scheme doesn't give the answers, it just says how much detail you have to go in, the type of grammar they want to see. Work through the sheet and make sure you do everything its looking for, don't just look at the high marks. Make sure you do everything it says. Also its a good idea to ask your teacher to read it and mark it, this will help you improve your work as you know what to do to get a higher mark.

When you get the coursework, do it! |
I was and still am a big procrastinator and that why I cant stress this point enough. I used to put it off for weeks and rush to so it a few days before it was due in. Granted we did some coursework in lesson time but there are some bits you need to do at home. The minute you get the coursework tasks, go home and start it. Its easier to get things done as soon as you get them because by the time you come round to doing it, you might have 5 other pieces of coursework to complete.

Save, save and save again |
If you are doing coursework on the computer then make sure every five minutes you save the work, the amount of times I had been writing pages of work and my laptop died. Its so important to make sure that you keep all the work saved and in a place on your computer that you can find it. Make a folder on your computer called school and then make a folder for each subject, this will make it a lot easier when it comes to sorting out your coursework. Oh and make sure you name the coursework properly, I know we are all guilty of doing work and just called it " iuhgv 3ecjfwoa"  because we can't be bothered to type out what it is.

Speaking coursework |
I struggled at lot with this coursework as for my English language coursework, 10% of it involved speaking in front of people. This is like my worst nightmare. I learnt very quickly that no one else is paying attention to what your doing or saying. Everyone else is stressing about their own speech they have to make, just go up there and focus on a friend. I asked my friends to spread themselves around the room so that It would look like I was talking to everyone when I was actually just directing my presentation to people I trusted.

Now for my French coursework I had various speaking tasks. These weren't in front of my class but were recorded just in front of my teacher. Now you have to remember a lot of stuff and it doesn't really help that its in another language. I found that writing out the paragraph helped, I made sure I learnt at least one a night until I was able to recite the whole thing. Also when it comes to doing it, make sure you speak slow enough to be understood, not to sow but not to fast. I also found that putting the words to a song helped. If you can make the words go in time to a song you like then you can think of them as lyrics, this really helped me as I could just use the music in my head to speak along to.

Exams |
Now my exams were done in the sports hall and I found them more daunting than anything else. I want to share with you some of the things I did to make them easier, little tips and tricks to get the tops marks and things to remember.

Breakfast |
This is a really simple thing but make sure you have a filling breakfast if your exams in the morning, if its in the afternoon then make sure you have a filling breakfast and lunch. This might not seem important but if you don't eat anything then you might get a headache and you wont be able to focus if your feeling ill. Also the amount of times my stomach rumbled really loud during exams was to much to handle. It was just so embarrassing.

Clear pencil case |
Get a clear pencil case and put at least three black pens and three blue pens. Three pencils, a ruler, coloured pencils, sharpener and a rubber (Eraser, I'm only adding this as I know in America the term rubber is used something else and I can assure you, you wont be needing one of those during our exams, haha). You don't want to take one pen and it run out half way through your exam.

Turn of your Phone alarms |
Make sure all the alarms on your phone are off, the phone's on silent and take the battery out if you can. Either give the phone to the exam people (The one's who walk around the room to make sure your not cheating) or put it in your bag. If your phone goes of then you can be disqualified from the exam.

Go to the toilet |
Even though you can go to the toilet during the exam, make sure you go before you go into the exam. If you go during the exam then you could waste precious time that you really need.

Go to bed early |
Make sure you get a decent nights sleep before every exam. You don't want to fall asleep at your desk and it will also help you to focus more.

Your name |
Its pretty basic but make sure you remember to actually put your name on the paper. If you forget to do that then you could get an A* but they wont have a clue who's paper it is.

Don't waste time |
Look though your paper and decided what's going to take the most time, then allocate a certain amount of time to each question. I found this really helpful as I just moved on, even if I hadn't finished a question because if you can spend more time on a question that gives more marks then you can always come back to the questions at the end if you have time.

Plan |
If you have time then for each question make a small little plan, stating what points your going to make. This is something my English teacher told us. Basically if you run out of time on a question then you might get some extra marks, because in your plan you've said what points you were going to make. It seems like a tiny thin but if the person marking it can see that you knew something else they were looking for then they might give you an extra point.

Marks |
Look at the amount of marks that could be given, this gives you an indication of how much detail you need to give. If the most marks is only three then don't send ages on a really long answer, they are only really looking for a well structured paragraph with the right answer. If you could get 12 marks or higher then make sure you have a lot of paragraph's and valid points to make. My teacher told us to think of twelve points that related to the answers, so so if you had a question like "What was the most effective civil rights movement and how has that impacted the society we live in today?" (This was a question in my history exam, its not work for word but it was along those lines), you could talk about all of the civil right movements and mention key dates, discuss how each of them are equally important but use fact to state why one was definitive. You know what I mean.

Don't be afraid to cough or sneeze |
This sounds so stupid but in exams I never liked to sneeze in case I got told of, that was stupid. No one is gong to moan at you for sneezing or coughing so don't panic about little things like that.

Use all the time |
If you finish with twenty minute's to spare then go over that paper until the times up. You might see little spelling mistakes, punctuation that's needed or you might be able to add something more to a question's. If you really don't know the answer to a question then just take a guess. Start writing and it might come back to you, if not just write anything you can think of as you never know, it could be the right answer.

Well I really hope you found that helpful in some way. There may be bits that I have missed but I know i would have found something like this helpful during my exams. Please let me know if you are doing your exams, what do you worry most about or even if you've done them already then let me know your revision tips.

I wouldn't normally ask but please tweet this post or share it with people you know. I know a lot of people are about to start their exams and if you think this could help then in anyway then it would be lovely if you could share it.

Bye for now xxx