revise for gcse

School teachers teach us the materials needed and tested for our final examinations but never taught us the necessary skills to revise our materials. Teachers often assume students already know how to revise for GCSE, but little did they know that many students struggle to find the right study techniques and methods for themselves. 


With that said, every student studies uniquely and differently. One may find it easier to absorb materials by listening while some may find it easier with imagery aid. This boils down to the type of learner you are. Sometimes even when students are well aware of the type of learner they are, they still struggle to find the right study methods for themselves. 


The General Certificate of Secondary Education, also known as GCSE, is a rigorous curriculum taken by most high school students in the UK. The subjects available in the GCSE include English language and Literature, Mathematics, Economics, Geography, History, Biology, Chemistry, and Physics. The GCSE curriculum also offers students a range of non-English languages such as Arabic, Chinese, French, and more. 


The GCSE exams are designed to challenge students, but not make it impossible to succeed. Most of the time, students find GCSE to be tedious and hard due to the struggle of balancing 9 subjects. There is a couple mix of subjects, skills, and knowledge GCSE students need to harness for the curriculum. This makes it challenging for students to manage. On top of having to know how to revise for GCSE, students also have to learn to manage their time well. 


Therefore, in this article, we will explore some scientifically proven study strategies as well as some time management tips for GCSE students to revise for GCSE.


person using MacBook Pro

Methods to Revise for GCSE: How to Time Manage as a student? 


1 – Set your priorities 

Knowing and setting your priorities will help you to make time for the things that are most important to you. It is important that these priorities are not compromised as it can impose more stress on yourself when you remove values and time that are precious and important to you. For instance, prioritizing family time. If you know Sunday is your family day, it is important to put away the books sometimes and still enjoy time outside of academics. 


Revise For GCSE

2 – Making a schedule to follow 

Failing to plan, is planning to fail. 


Here are some tips for scheduling to make the best out of your time. 

Depending on your academic, life circumstances, and goals, you will adjust your schedule accordingly. 


Block out time that you cannot control

For instance, your class schedule, working hours, and sleep hours. These are the hours you should not alter and readjust in your schedule. These are hours you have no control over and you have to be present for them. 


Fit in your priorities next

Things that are important to you or your life goals should not be forgotten. Priorities for everybody are different, to you, it could be time with family and friends. 


Now you will be left with hours you can mingle with. 

These hours are the times when you need to schedule your studies. Ultimately as a full-time student, your job is to learn, study and revise. Especially with the GCSE, there are so many subjects one student has to juggle. 


Within these hours, you will have to break it down further to the subject, topic, and content you will be studying. It is recommended to have a study planner to guide you in your studies if this is your first time following a schedule. 


You can find some useful study planners free for download below. 

Study Planners: How to Study Effectively & Efficiently


Having a study planner helps to further organize your study and revision. It also keeps students on track with their studies and revision. Hence, with all these planning tips, all you need to do is to begin! 


scissors and two paper clips beside opened spiral notebook

3 – Adopt the art of Essentialism 

Essentialism is the idea of only doing things that are essential for us. Many of us may feel compelled to say yes to many opportunities, chances, and favors because of today’s society. Many of us are consumed by the undisciplined pursuit of more. In other words, having to take on many roles, jobs, and responsibilities to equate ourselves as “successful” or “useful”. Essentialism by Greg McKeown is to overcome this and learn how to only say yes to things that are important for ourselves. 


Read also: Essentialism: The BEST way to study better before examinations


Adopting this theory and idea, students should find themselves saying yes to things that are essential to their academic success and future growth instead of overwhelming themselves with other responsibilities that can wait. 


pile of books beside white printer paper and black ballpoint pen

4 – Know your weak subjects, topics 

When it comes to the GCSE, there are many subjects that build on previously learned knowledge and concepts. It makes it difficult for students to move on if their previous knowledge is not solid and strong. Therefore, why is knowing your weak subjects and topics important for time management? Here’s why: 


Study smart not hard 

Instead of focusing on and redoing practices that you are already good and strong at, focus on your weaker areas. Instead of achieving 100% mastery on topic A when you are at 90% mastery, you should delegate the time to work on your weaker areas. In other words, it is better to obtain 90% mastery on topic A and 70% mastery on topic B than to obtain 100% mastery on topic A and 50% mastery on topic B. 

Ultimately the questions in your exams are not only on topic A! 


Better use of time 

As mentioned, your time will be better utilized when you focus on topics that require your attention. 


Revise For GCSE

Methods to Revise for GCSE: Scientific Study Methods 

Now that you have set your priorities straight and have a schedule that you curated just for you. Let’s dive into the study methods you should use during your study sessions. With the limited time, you are left with for studying, students need to fully utilize their time and maximize learning during the time frame. Here are some tips as well as proven scientific study methods to revise for GCSE.


woman wearing grey shirt writing on white paper

Taking useful notes during lessons 

To make studying and revising for GCSE easier, students will have to put in the effort during class and sometimes before class. Unless you have an eidetic memory, it is recommended that students jot down notes during lectures. 


Jotting down notes during lectures helps students to follow along, stay focused and find connections between the things they are studying. It may also help students to pre-read the lecture notes before class, however, it is not necessarily achievable for all students, hence do what fits your schedule and learning. 


Notes that students actively take in class can help them during the revision period. This is especially the case for topics that are learned in the early semester. By the end of 4 to 5 months, it is possible that students may have forgotten most of the concepts taught in the early semester. These notes can help students to retrieve and recall information or explanation from the professor. This helps students to save time from rereading and revisiting early topics over and over. 


Revise For GCSE

Active Recall 

Active recall is a study method that helps students to achieve the opposite of what they are currently doing in school. In traditional learning, learners learn by putting information into their brains. Whereas Active Recall, students learn by retrieving information from their brains. 


As learners train their brains to retrieve and recall information, they transfer this short-term memory into long-term ones. For instance, the reason why we can easily say the formula to the Pythagoras Theorem is also due to Active Recall. We practiced using the formula many times during elementary school and recalled it without the aid of a formula sheet. Now the memory has been moved into long-term memory for many of us! 


What are some ways to use incorporate Active Recall into students’ study routines? 

  • Use of Flashcards 
  • Practicing on questions without referring to notes 
  • Answering a list of theory questions as a review (without referring of course!) 


What Is The Forgetting Curve (And How Do You Combat It)? - eLearning Industry

(Source: https://elearningindustry.com/forgetting-curve-combat)

Spaced Repetition 

Paired with Active Recall, both of these study strategies can help students to maximize their study time as well as reap powerful benefits for their studies. 


This pairing, Active Recall, and Spaced Repetition is a scientifically-validated way to boost memory retention. Spaced Repetition involves students spacing their revision over specific periods of time. The forgetting curve is a memory model that shows us how memory fades over a period of time. The only way to overcome this is by revisiting the materials over a specific interval of time. By doing this, we are able to convert short-term memory into long-term ones. 


Students should space their revision of a topic by a day, 3 days then a week. This way, some memory of the information fades, however through active recall, we use active brain power to recall and remember, in turn, strengthening our memory of the information. 


Read also: Active Recall and Spaced Repetition: How to Study Effectively


Revise For GCSE

Teaching others

One of the best ways to maximize and fully utilize your study time is to practice explaining your concepts. For instance, after students are done with a topic, they should attempt to teach and explain the concept. As students attempt to teach and explain, they learn to structure their concepts into simpler and comprehensible terms. This not only helps students to practice Active Recall, it also helps students to ensure that their terminology and concepts are right. Additionally, students are able to logically link their concepts well at the end of the day. 


When you have finally successfully explained the concepts with confidence, you are ready to move on! 


In a nutshell, all the study methods named are active study methods. They require students to use brain power and actively participate in their learning. As compared to passive learning, students reap little benefits from rereading, summarizing, and highlighting their textbooks. Topped with the right scheduling techniques, you are sure ready to revise for GCSE and ace it! 

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