GCSE Advice From an A Level Student

Originally posted on The Student Room

Exactly 2 years ago I freaking out about the looming threat of GCSE exams and I remember exactly how tough it was. Thankfully I passed all 12 of my exams and gained some helpful tips along the way.

1. Prioritise. I knew to get into college I needed 5 A* – C grades so I picked 6 GCSE’s (one was a reserve) I knew I would achieve well in (including Maths and English) and decided these were my priorities. I focused most of my revision on these and revised much less for the others. Some I even completely discarded – French and Religious Studies.

2. Work out which way you revise best. I found out I remember things best when I hear and see them, so I watched a load of you tube videos instead of re writing notes. I also forced family and friends to quiz me.

3. Staying motivated is easiest when you’re revising with someone. By working together you can get things done faster, and when you don’t have the answer they usually do. I had a friend who did most of the same classes who I revised with.

4. As for how much do you do? I think I did 1.5 hours a night on weekdays, 3 – 4 hours on a Saturday and then took Sunday off. This isn’t an exact formula, different schedules will work differently for everyone.

5. Stay calm. As someone who suffers with anxiety I know exactly how difficult this can be; but tell yourself positive things (e.g. “I can do this, I’m not going to let it beat me”) and set time aside for relaxing.

6. Despite what everyone says, it’s never too late. I’m not advising you start revising the night before the exam; BUT if you suddenly find yourself extremely close to an exam and you’ve yet to revise don’t decide it’s too late and give up. Any revision is better than no revision. I pulled an all-nighter before my Chemistry GCSE and managed a C (although I really don’t advise this because it was exhausting).

7. Revise the hardest stuff when you have the most energy. For me this is ridiculously early in the morning (between 6 am and 11am) but for you it might be 4pm or 2am. This is when the most information will go in and you can leave the easier tasks for when you’re less awake.

8. Chat outside the exam hall. If you’re waiting to go in talk to the people near you about the subject, last minute quiz each other before you head in. I’ve lost count of the amount of times I was able to answer a question because I’d talked to someone about it outside the exam hall.

9. Don’t compare yourself to others. This is hardest part in my opinion; I know the feeling all too well when you work your arse off to achieve a B and your friend does minimal work and gets an A. But remember that your academic potential will not be the same as others and if your B is the best you can do that’s okay.

10. Don’t push yourself too hard. You probably know your limits and you shouldn’t push yourself past them; if that means getting a lower grade to save your sanity that’s okay. Towards the end of my GCSE’s I pushed myself beyond my limits which resulted in frequent panic attacks and had I gone any further would have resulted in a small breakdown. Did I get the grades I needed? Yes. Did my mental health suffer massively? Yes. Was it worth it? God no.

11. And finally remember that if you don’t get the grades you want you are not a failure. We’re all different and and have different strengths, an academic pitfall doesn’t mean your life is over, trust me. There’s plenty of time to try again or take a different route to your career of choice. I know it seems like it now but GCSE’s are not the be all and end all of your life – I’ve been at college 2 years and no one has even asked me what I got.

Good luck everyone.


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