Revision tips for GCSE and A levels

01 May 2019 | Focus | Guest Author

Exams are approaching once again and if you’re going to be sitting your GCSEs or A levels this year you’re probably deep in study mode! To help you through, here’s a list of some top revision and exam tips…


Make a revision timetable - and stick to it!

Start by marking the dates of each exam on the calendar, then find the syllabus online (if you don't have it already) and work out what you need to learn. Break it up into chunks and try to work on different subjects each day so you don't get bored. Make sure you schedule in some breaks as well, this will help you manage stress.


Look at the mark schemes; they are your best friend

The mark scheme is essentially the cipher that you can use to decode your exams. This is especially important if you are doing an essay-based subject. Examiners will be working through a stack of papers looking for where they can give you marks. Doing well in exams is often about how you write as much as what you write. Make sure you know what the assessment objectives mean and are clear on how to include them in your answer. If you are unsure on this, ask your teacher they should be able to explain what it means. Each paragraph of your answer should be clearly laid out, PEEA (point, evidence, evaluation, analysis) paragraphs are often a good format if you’re unsure.



It may be boring but there is no better form of revision than past-papers. They will give you the best idea of how ready you are for the exam and get you used to the format. If you are doing mocks take them seriously because it may be the only chance you get to receive feedback from an actual teacher. Otherwise, make sure you do past papers under exam conditions – at the very least you’ll get used to how long you have to write for!



Exam Technique


Start at the back of the paper and work forwards

With science and maths exams, the highest mark questions are usually at the back. If you find you are often running out of time before you get to these and have to rush through them you could be losing valuable marks. If you answer them first you can make sure you give them enough time - just don't forget about the rest of the paper! Also, if you get stuck, you can always come back to it at the end.


Manage your time

Exams will follow a very similar format year-on-year, because of this you can work out the best approach before taking the exam. If it’s an essay subject where you have to answer two questions in detail divide your time in to three. Spend the first third on the first question, then the second third on the second question, and the final third going back over your work and adding in any points you missed the first time.

If your exam has lots of questions that are only worth a few marks, make sure you don’t spend too much time agonising, they’re important but you don’t want to run out of time to finish the questions that are worth more marks. Make sure you know how long the paper is so you don’t get caught out.


Be prepared

It might sound obvious, but always make sure you bring spare pens, a pencil, ruler, protractor, calculator, tissues, a bottle of water… There’s nothing worse than sitting in an exam and realising you’ve forgotten something you need. If you’re unsure, make a checklist and pack your bag the night before. Make sure you allow lots of time to travel, and know where you are meant to be.

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