The aim of this post is to give some advice on the approach to your GCSE maths exam. With around 3 months left to prepare, big gains can still be made. If you have sat mock exams earlier in the year, those grades can still be brought up by 1 or even possibly 2 grades with determination and working strategically… but remember time is of the essence, so you must begin now.
The Right Tools for the Job ∼ 1 or 2 days
As your time is so valuable right now, I would recommend trying to get these sorted out as quickly as possible… perhaps even ask a parent or sibling if they can help you out.
- Equipment: black pens (lots), pencils (HB), 30cm ruler, Casio scientific calculator , a pair of compasses (compass), protractor, eraser and sharpener.
- Past papers: ask your teacher which exam board you are sitting. Past papers can usually be found on their websites. Here are some useful links: Mr Barton Maths, Edexcel, AQA, OCR, WJEC, CCEA, Corbettmaths
- Revision Cards – as these have QR links to video tutorials, practice questions and answers, they will help you work efficiently through any topics requiring attention.
- Video Tutorials and Practice Questions
First Steps ∼ 2 days
As time is limited and there are a lot of topics, the first thing I would recommend is that you identify your strengths and less confident topics.
Have you been given a list from your teacher? Quite often teachers give their students a list of topics they need to work on based on mock exams. They may be called PLCs or an exam analysis. They will give you an idea of some topics that require attention.
Use these checklists for Higher and Foundation to identify your strengths and areas needing attention. Your PLC/exam analysis may be helpful, alternatively browse the Practice Questions here to help you decide if you are confident or not for each topic.
- Use the Corbettmaths Revision Cards and sort the cards into groups: (a) confident (b) need to revise and possibly (c) unfamiliar with. This is shown below by @Tessmaths. These can then be highlighted on the revision checklist.
I strongly recommend that you double check with your teacher what topics she/he are yet to teach. With around 3 months left, there may be a few last remaining topics and it can be very useful to know what these are. It may even be worthwhile to give yourself a preview using the videos here
Get Stuck in ∼ 8 weeks
This list of topics needing attention will become a key component of your revision over the next 8 weeks. The revision checklist above has around 40 topics, so that would be around 5 topics per week – perhaps 3 on a weekend day and 2 during the week.
When focussing on a topic, I would recommend:
- Watch the video shown on the checklist, so for “Angles in Polygons,” that would be video 25 on www.corbettmaths.com/contents. I would recommend watching it twice, making some notes during the second viewing.
- Try the Practice Questions – these can be found next to video 25 on the contents page.
- Mark your work using the answers – links to these can be found on the contents page.
- Once confident, cross it off on the revision checklist. If you need a little bit more help, I’m sure your teacher would be more than happy to help you during a break/lunch if you ask nicely (I’m certain they would be impressed by how proactive you are!).
Repeat this process for all the topics needing attention.
You might find that you actually recap some of the topics on your list during your lessons… I know I would regularly ask my classes what they would like to recap in the weeks before the exam, once we had finished teaching new material.
During this 8 week spell, it is extremely important to continue practising all the topics on the list. To some extent, this will naturally happen during your lessons and via further mocks/practice tests within school, however I would definitely recommend you work on your 5-a-days. They are a great way to keep revisiting all the topics that will be on your GCSE exams. Alternatively, feel free to work on the odd past paper.
Past Papers, Past Papers, Past Papers ∼ 6 weeks
By around the Easter holidays (or during it), you should have reduced your list of topics needing attention to a small handful. Hopefully by now everything will be coming together and you should be feeling a lot more confident overall. Now is the time to get stuck into past papers.
Try to vary how you attempt these:
- individually in timed conditions
- individually with notes
- along with peers, discussing how you would attempt each question
- I’m sure you will be completing lots within school also
Most importantly, make sure you mark your work and understand where you are making mistakes. You may find that you re-visit your checklists and recap some topics using the videos/questions.
Along with the past papers, try to mix up your revision, perhaps revisiting notes and using your revision cards
The Final Week ∼ 1 week
With around a week to go, personally I would ease off the past papers. The main reasons being:
(a) by this stage you probably have done every paper (twice!)
(b) sods law you will find the one and only question that you just cannot get your head around and that might rock your confidence… the chances of that one particular question coming up is slim. Considering a grade 9 was 190/240, there will be the odd question that will stump you, but you can still go on to get the top grades!
(c) By this stage you may have started sitting your GCSEs for other subjects.
At this stage I would recommend:
- recapping notes/revision cards
- watching videos and attempting questions on particular topics
- asking your teacher to recap topics X & Y
- working through 5-a-days or past papers with peers
The night before and day of the exam
See this dedicated blog post on the night before and day of the exam – COMING SOON
Also see these upcoming blog posts
- How to tackle those “wordy questions” – COMING SOON
- How to tackle those “curveball” questions – COMING SOON
I really hope this post has helped give you some ideas for your maths revision and GOOD LUCK
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