Tips From A New Year 12 Who Somehow Got All 9s
Don’t worry, I’m not becoming a studyblr. I’m writing this on results day as a sort of farewell to GCSEs and to impart some “wisdom” upon the youngsters before I move on to A-levels. I’m going to keep this to specific, practical things you can do to improve, none of that vague nonsense. Subject-specific tips for maths, geography, triple science, language, literature, graphic comms and comp sci under the fold because this is too bloody long already.
- Don’t go revision crazy. People will always emphasize revision, but so long as you’re revising effectively (see below) you’re safe to start revising about a month before mocks, and two months before your final exams. In terms of a revision schedule during those months, I worked with one or two hours per day, with a free day on Friday and Sunday.
- Use apps to stay organised. Put your school timetable and exam dates in your calendar of choice with appropriate reminders and colour coding. To keep track of homework and revision, use Adapt - you can put in your GCSEs and it tracks which topics you have covered and how many times, as well as allowing you to input homework and your school timetable. During study time use Forest (free on Android) to lock yourself out of your phone for a certain amount of time.
- Pay attention to lessons from the start. From the beginning of Year 10 every lesson is a GCSE lesson, and everything you learn could come up in an exam. Follow along with your teacher, make the best notes you can, do the work and understand the concepts as early as you can. You’ll thank yourself in a year as you watch the rest of your class wonder what a ribosome is when revision time comes.
- Revise effectively. Use Adapt or a textbook to keep track of your confidence level on every topic, so when you’re revising you can focus on the ones you don’t understand whatsoever. Also, don’t just read stuff when revising. You have to train your brain to retrieve the information. Memorise vocabulary and basic facts using flashcards, then answer exam questions. Lots and lots of exam questions.
- Use your teachers. They want you to succeed because it reflects well on them! If you don’t understand something after a lesson, pop back at break or lunch, or shoot them an email and they will help. Don’t just bank on it not showing up in the test because Sod’s Law dictates that it will. After Christmas in Year 11 they will often start revision sessions or intervention. Attend them for any subjects you’re even slightly shaky on. They’ll boost your grade like nothing else, even if it does take up some of your chill out time.
- Buy textbooks and study materials through school. If your school offers you textbooks and workbooks it’s likely that will be the best deal for them, since they’re purchased in bulk. Grab all you can in Year 10 and talk to the school if you can’t afford many - they may be willing to help. If you know any higher-level teachers see if they have any sample study materials from CGP and the like. My English teacher gave me a lovely set of sample CGP Macbeth flashcards that would have proved really useful.
- Make flashcards at the end of every topic. Stay on top of them. You want a term on one side and a definition on the other, or a quote and analysis etc. If you don’t like endless bits of card floating around use Quizlet - you might not even need to make them yourself as many people have shared GCSE flashcards there.
- And finally - don’t forget you’re a human! Humans need regular sleep, healthy food including breakfasts, hydration, fun and social time. Make time in your day to take care of yourself. Your brain works better when you’re healthy so often an extra hour of sleep will do more for your grade than an extra hour of revision. Hanging out with your friends and keeping up with your hobbies reduces stress.
Feel free to ask me any questions you may have about any of this stuff, or if you just need advice I’m here too! I’ve done it before, I can help you out.