Navigating Year 10: Top Tips for GCSES- Wunbeni Sanda

Looking back, I am sure there are many things that we all wished we could’ve told ourselves to help us overcome different obstacles, gain higher achievements and reach higher heights. Although we cannot dwell on these things and have to move forwards, I do believe that it is good to share these tips in order to help others not make the same mistakes. Today I will be writing a top 10 list on tips that I would tell myself 1 year ago: now being a year 11 and have finished doing my GCSEs. I hope that this list can help some of you to make wiser decisions in year 10 – the beginning of the GCSE journey.

Tip 10 – Understand the Exam boards and what they are asking for

When we write our exams, the main thing on our minds is always making sure we get the content in or making sure we write enough; we all want to write everything down on the page that we know to “maximise” our marks. This way of thinking, however, could just lead to exam fatigue or even just missing out on marks. The examiners who ultimately mark our papers are looking for some key things, including structure. Making sure you write a clear piece that answers the question while flowing nicely will easily impress the examiner more than just blurting everything we remember on the page.

Tip 9 – Don’t be afraid to ask for help

As we grow up, we begin to take everything else on our own shoulders, and forget about all of the help and support around us. This can come from teachers, family and friends as each of these groups of people want to see us flourish. Even just asking to borrow a textbook for a friend or have a teacher mark a past paper you did can all positively impact your grade, leaving you more prepared for the final exam.

Tip 8 – Take regular breaks

It’s easy to sit at a desk and revise for hours without having a moment to yourself, but this isn’t the most optimal way to revise. No matter the length of one’s attention span, it will always begin to fall flat after prolonged revision, and at that point the effectiveness of revision drops. Some research backs the Pomodoro technique for this, but I personally create checkpoints for myself and take my rests there: for example I’d take a break after doing 10 exam questions for maths or make sure to get something to eat after finishing a past paper.

Tip 7 – Stay consistent

Throughout year 10 and 11 there will be a few sets of mocks – I did 3, some people have just done 2- and the best way to prepare for these would not be to revise the week, or even the day before the exam, but to revise slowly and consistently for the months beforehand. This leaves the final task of revising before the test as much easier, as the knowledge has been built up over time.

Tip 6 – Stay motivated

After tough exams or learning theories that are difficult to wrap your head around, it’s easy to feel disheartened. However, we must be able to realise that whatever happens after should not be affected by these emotions, and be able to realise where the difficulties are, progressing forwards.

Tip 5 – Create a revision timetable

This may seem slightly hypocritical as even by the end of GCSEs I still haven’t made one, but I wish I did. Having this form of organisation helps to plan out what should be revised each day, such as different subjects, topics and concepts. This would prevent imbalances in how you perform in subjects, as you may revise the subjects that you prefer more, over the subjects that need to be improved.

Tip 4 – Stay healthy

Throughout GCSE season it was difficult to hold onto fitness activities such as going to the gym, or other recreational activities like playing games. Rather than completely dropping these activities, I would recommend that you limit your hours doing these things, to maintain a healthy relationship between academics and doing things you enjoy.

Tip 3 – Do past papers

Arguably one of the best ways to revise is to do past papers, as they submerge you into a similar situation to that of the exam hall. Although on their own they can be helpful, to develop on this form of revision you should mark down where you dropped the most marks, as this is the topic that should have more time spent on it. Pairing this will flashcards or quizzes is a great way to effectively revise.

Tip 2 – Remember that everyone is going through the same thing

Across the country, millions of kids are all working tirelessly to do well in their final exams. Everyone will each have their own goals that they are working towards, which drives them to do well. Not only should this comfort you, it should also motivate you to do better; if everyone is trying to do better than so should you.

Tip 1 – Organise your resources

Every time you revise, you have to begin by finding resources to revise with. Finding good resources that follow the right specification, exam board and tier are crucial to effective revision. In year 11, it becomes too late to be organising these resources to revise from, leading to a lackluster revision session. I believe that this is the tip that I stress on the most, as making flashcards and quizzes are, although tedious, one of the best way s to get ahead for year 11.

To conclude –

I hope that you were able to apply these tips to yourself, and maximise your future potential. Although some of these may relate to you less than others, it is good to recognise all of them as key factors when facing your GCSEs.

Looking back, I am sure there are many things that we all wished we could’ve told ourselves to help us overcome different obstacles, gain higher achievements and reach higher heights. Although we cannot dwell on these things and have to move forwards, I do believe that it is good to share these tips in order to help others not make the same mistakes. Today I will be writing a top 10 list on tips that I would tell myself 1 year ago: now being a year 11 and have finished doing my GCSEs. I hope that this list can help some of you to make wiser decisions in year 10 – the beginning of the GCSE journey.

Tip 10 – Understand the Exam boards and what they are asking for

When we write our exams, the main thing on our minds is always making sure we get the content in or making sure we write enough; we all want to write everything down on the page that we know to “maximise” our marks. This way of thinking, however, could just lead to exam fatigue or even just missing out on marks. The examiners who ultimately mark our papers are looking for some key things, including structure. Making sure you write a clear piece that answers the question while flowing nicely will easily impress the examiner more than just blurting everything we remember on the page.

Tip 9 – Don’t be afraid to ask for help

As we grow up, we begin to take everything else on our own shoulders, and forget about all of the help and support around us. This can come from teachers, family and friends as each of these groups of people want to see us flourish. Even just asking to borrow a textbook for a friend or have a teacher mark a past paper you did can all positively impact your grade, leaving you more prepared for the final exam.

Tip 8 – Take regular breaks

It’s easy to sit at a desk and revise for hours without having a moment to yourself, but this isn’t the most optimal way to revise. No matter the length of one’s attention span, it will always begin to fall flat after prolonged revision, and at that point the effectiveness of revision drops. Some research backs the Pomodoro technique for this, but I personally create checkpoints for myself and take my rests there: for example I’d take a break after doing 10 exam questions for maths or make sure to get something to eat after finishing a past paper.

Tip 7 – Stay consistent

Throughout year 10 and 11 there will be a few sets of mocks – I did 3, some people have just done 2- and the best way to prepare for these would not be to revise the week, or even the day before the exam, but to revise slowly and consistently for the months beforehand. This leaves the final task of revising before the test as much easier, as the knowledge has been built up over time.

Tip 6 – Stay motivated

After tough exams or learning theories that are difficult to wrap your head around, it’s easy to feel disheartened. However, we must be able to realise that whatever happens after should not be affected by these emotions, and be able to realise where the difficulties are, progressing forwards.

Tip 5 – Create a revision timetable

This may seem slightly hypocritical as even by the end of GCSEs I still haven’t made one, but I wish I did. Having this form of organisation helps to plan out what should be revised each day, such as different subjects, topics and concepts. This would prevent imbalances in how you perform in subjects, as you may revise the subjects that you prefer more, over the subjects that need to be improved.

Tip 4 – Stay healthy

Throughout GCSE season it was difficult to hold onto fitness activities such as going to the gym, or other recreational activities like playing games. Rather than completely dropping these activities, I would recommend that you limit your hours doing these things, to maintain a healthy relationship between academics and doing things you enjoy.

Tip 3 – Do past papers

Arguably one of the best ways to revise is to do past papers, as they submerge you into a similar situation to that of the exam hall. Although on their own they can be helpful, to develop on this form of revision you should mark down where you dropped the most marks, as this is the topic that should have more time spent on it. Pairing this will flashcards or quizzes is a great way to effectively revise.

Tip 2 – Remember that everyone is going through the same thing

Across the country, millions of kids are all working tirelessly to do well in their final exams. Everyone will each have their own goals that they are working towards, which drives them to do well. Not only should this comfort you, it should also motivate you to do better; if everyone is trying to do better than so should you.

Tip 1 – Organise your resources

Every time you revise, you have to begin by finding resources to revise with. Finding good resources that follow the right specification, exam board and tier are crucial to effective revision. In year 11, it becomes too late to be organising these resources to revise from, leading to a lackluster revision session. I believe that this is the tip that I stress on the most, as making flashcards and quizzes are, although tedious, one of the best way s to get ahead for year 11.

To conclude –

I hope that you were able to apply these tips to yourself, and maximise your future potential. Although some of these may relate to you less than others, it is good to recognise all of them as key factors when facing your GCSEs.

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