GCSE Revision: the ultimate guide for Summer 2022
Your GCSE results are a very important step in your academic journey, and will affect which qualifications and subjects you take at A-level, your eligibility for your chosen university and course, and even your career prospects later down the line. Many employers require job applicants to meet their minimum requirement in Maths and English at GCSE level.
With exam schedules changing as a result of Covid-19, it is possible that exams may take place in October/November for those GCSE students who are not satisfied with their teacher assessment grades. This means the summer will be an ideal time to factor in revision, both through self-study and through booster revision courses such as the Kings GCSE summer camp.
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What is GCSE revision and why is it important?
GCSE revision involves re-visiting all the content that you have covered for each GCSE subject throughout the course.
GCSEs are designed to test students on all that they have learnt throughout the units and modules of each subject syllabus, from the start to the end. Given that GCSE courses can span up to two years, it’s likely that much of the knowledge gained during the first part of the course will no longer be as fresh in your mind, hence the need to revisit it before sitting the exam.
Doing a thorough re-cap of the content from course books, reference materials GCSE revision resources and your own notes and projects will make sure that you are re-familiarised with all that you have learnt in time for the exam.
Below are some of the most important reasons why it’s vital to revise for your GCSEs, and ultimately achieve the best possible scores.
Shutterstock/ Nick Beer
Reason #1: To make sure the knowledge is at the forefront of your mind
Revising everything that you have covered on the course, from start to finish, will ensure that you have a good knowledge of all the subject material and are as prepared as you can be to answer all the questions in the exam.
Reason #2: To make sure you have correctly understood the first time
Sometimes, revisiting units and modules covered earlier in the course in more depth may make you realise that there are some things you didn't understand properly the first time round. Identifying any areas where more clarification, either from your teacher or resource material, is needed will mean that you can be confident that you have a good understanding of everything that is likely to be covered in the exam.
Reason #3: So that you can identify any gaps in your knowledge and address them in time
Going over the main course content and cross-checking your knowledge with sample questions, for example, can often highlight gaps in your learning and knowledge that you can ensure are rectified before you sit the exam.
Reason #4: To make sure you feel as confident as possible going into the exam
Doing as much revision as possible will give you confidence in your level of knowledge, and will make you optimistic about your chances of success. This, in turn, will help settle any pre-exam nerves, meaning you are fully focused and ready to perform to your best.
Top tips for GCSE revision
There is no one method for revision and self-study which suits everyone as each student has a different way of learning, and a different capacity and way to retain knowledge. The revision tips below do however provide the basis for a successful revision strategy for most.
Tip #1: Make a study plan and use different approaches
Making a GCSE revision timetable or study plan is a great way to get organised and ensure that you cover everything required before the exam.
Use a range of approaches to stimulate different areas of the brain, building connections and varied interactions with the content. Strategies could include: summary notes, revision guides, revision cards, creating presentations, question writing, using colour to highlight or group ideas, recording oral notes.
Tip #2: Attend a revision course
You will, of course, have the best of intentions, but it can sometimes be difficult to get started and to take a systematic approach to revision and exam preparation. Dedicated revision programmes such as the Kings GCSE Summer Camp can help address these issues, providing tailor-made revision of core subjects and useful exam techniques.
Tip #3: Start well in advance
Make sure you start revising well ahead of time so that you can cover everything you want to in depth and avoid pre-exam panic setting in!
Tip #4: Practise, practise, practise!
Build your understanding of what the examiner is looking for by using past papers with plenty of practice questions, this way you can familiarise yourself with the question formats and develop your strategies to answer them.
Tip #5: Don’t just revisit your favourite topics
As already referenced, the reformed GCSE format requires a comprehensive understanding of the whole syllabus. Consider starting with the area you find most difficult to build confidence and a sense of achievement.
Tip #6: Keep your body as active as your mind
Exam revision can be intense, so its important to off-set the hours of study with some all-important physical exercise. It will get the endorphins flowing and most likely make you even more productive when you pick the books up again!
Tip #7: Find a quiet place
This is essential as it will help maintain concentration and avoid distractions. If you work to music, it's a good idea keep the volume down.
Tip #8: Use family and friends
Practise sample questions with friends and compare notes on your answers. Give family or friends your revision notes and ask them to test you. This is a great way of identifying any remaining knowledge gaps or inaccuracies, and hopefully give your confidence a boost!
Popular GCSE subjects
There are a wide range of subjects available at GCSE. Currently, it is mandatory for all students to take GCSE Mathematics, GCSE English and GCSE Science, but the remaining subjects can be chosen according to availability at the school and of course your own personal goals and interests.
Some of the additional subjects offered include English Literature, History, Geography, Art and Design, Business Studies, Religious Studies, French, Spanish, German, Computer Science and Physical Education.
Whilst subject syllabuses tend to cover similar topics and content, exam boards do vary and secondary schools can choose which exam board’s specification to adopt each year. The main UK exam boards are Oxford, Cambridge and RSA Examinations (OCR), Assessment and Qualifications Alliance (AQA), Edexcel, Welsh Joint Education Committee (WJEC) and Council for the Curriculum, Examinations & Assessment (CCEA). The IGCSE (International General Certificate of Secondary Education) was developed by University of Cambridge International Examinations (CIE), although Edexcel and Oxford AQA also offer their own versions.
Below is a summary of what is covered in some of the most popular GCSE subjects.
Subject #1: GCSE Maths
In the Maths GCSE learners develop skills, knowledge and understanding of a range of mathematical concepts, useful to future study. They will develop confidence in Number, Algebra, Ratio and Proportion, Geometry and Measures, Probability and Statistics.
Subject #2: GCSE Science
GCSE Science encourages learners to develop a better understanding of the world by teaching them about the influence of scientific study on society. They will gain skills that are essential for further study and everyday life by learning how science methods apply to other academic disciplines and everyday life and working on skills such as accuracy and precision, objectivity and initiative.
Subject #3: GCSE English
Those studying English as a second language gain lifelong skills while developing a wider international perspective. They will advance communicative ability in English through development of speaking and writing skills, improve their ability to understand English in a variety of social registers and styles.
Those studying GCSE English as a first language will develop the ability to communicate clearly, accurately and effectively when speaking and writing. They will learn how to use a wide range of vocabulary, the correct grammar, spelling and punctuation, and will develop a personal style and an awareness of the audience being addressed. The will read a range of fiction and non-fiction texts, examining the way that language is used in a range of contexts.
Subject #4: GCSE Information Communication Technology
ICT explores how digital technology impacts the lives of individuals, organisations and society. Students will enhance ICT skills and capability, learn about current and emerging digital technologies learn how to reflect critically on their own and others’ use of ICT and how to adopt safe, secure and responsible practice.
Subject #5: GCSE Geography
GCSE Geography teaches an understanding of the processes which affect physical and human environments. Learners will develop an understanding of location on a local, regional and global scale ,use and understand geographical data and information and learn how communities around the world are affected and constrained by different environments.
Subject #6: GCSE History
Studying GCSE History is an opportunity to study our world from the nineteenth century to the beginning of the twenty-first century. Students develop historical skills and knowledge while becoming enthusiastic about understanding the past. They will explore history from a diversity of perspectives, and learn how to present clear, logical arguments.
As highlighted above, it is essential for anyone taking GCSE exams to prepare as thoroughly as possible through a variety of revision methods. Taking a revision course that can be tailor-made to your needs can be fundamental to your overall success, particularly if it is specifically designed to help subject matter come to life.
The Kings GCSE Summer camp offers an ideal way to fill in any knowledge gaps and work on exam techniques, whilst at the same time having fun and engaging with the beautiful facilities and locations in and around Bournemouth.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q1. How many hours should you revise for GCSE?
There is no set amount of time that is recommended for GCSE revision. Each student will have differing levels of pre-existing knowledge and understanding, which may vary from subject to subject depending on aptitude and interest. It also depends on how far before your exams you begin your revision sessions.
The important thing is not to overdo it. Attempting to fit in too many hours each day will ultimately be unproductive!
Q2. How do I revise for GCSE?
Everybody learns and retains information differently so it's best to try as many different strategies as possible so that you can work out what is best for you. Most people find a mix of methods is best, culminating with practice exam papers.
Q3. Is 3 months enough to revise for GCSEs?
3 months is generally considered to be adequate in terms of timescales for revision and preparation.
Q4. When do GCSE exams begin?
GCSE exams are generally taken in May/June, although this year - because of the Covid pandemic - students will assigned a final grade that reflects their overall performance and attainment throughout the GCSE course. Teachers will work closely with the exam boards to ensure that the results assigned are accurate and fair.
It's possible that any students who are unhappy with their assigned grade may be able to sit exams in November.
Q5. How much do GCSEs cost?
Information on fees can be found here.
Q6. Where can I study for GCSEs?
It is possible to study for GCSEs at all of Kings' UK schools - Brighton, Bournemouth, London and Oxford. All offer the course on an accelerated 1-year basis, and the standard 2-year course is also available in Bournemouth.