The Best Ways to Revise for GCSE + Common Mistakes to Avoid

The Best Ways to Revise for GCSE + Common Mistakes to Avoid

April 27, 2024 | 2months | Study Tips

Struggling with GCSE preparation?

Our tutors have seen it a hundred times: kids and students of all ages who are smart and willing to learn for their GCSEs, but haven't been taught the proper study techniques. Traditional schools sometimes overlook this aspect: while teachers organise the content and instruct students to study and revise, they often neglect to provide efficient study techniques. For this reason, many students fear preparing for exams, as they don't feel they have the tools or the discipline to do so.

At CloudLearn, tutors don't only help you understand the topics in the syllabus, but also provide you with techniques and methods to study for GCSEs and revise on your own, making the path much easier. In this post, we will share with you the core of the information and tips we've mastered during our years guiding GCSE students to exam success.

How to revise effectively for GCSEs?

Many questions emerge when you begin preparing for sitting GCSEs privately, and here we are to answer the most common ones.

When should I start revising for GCSE?

Students often think that revision should be left to the last weeks of preparation, but we highly recommend including revision as a part of the learning process. Create a calendar to plan your study sessions and allocate time specifically to revising. We suggest dedicating a day every month to revising all you've learnt so far.

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What should I revise for GCSE?

Keeping this monthly structure, we suggest revising all you have learned during the month. By the end of the course, you will have a clear outlook of all the content and you will be able to identify those weak points that need some more work.

How many hours a day should you revise for GCSE?

The ideal suggested study time for each subject totals 120 hours. Calculate how many days you have until the day of the exam and split that between the subjects you are taking and remember to count off any day you won't be studying. That way you will know exactly how many hours a day you need to study.

How long should I revise for GCSEs?

There is no specific time you should dedicate to revising. As mentioned before, we suggest making revision part of your schedule instead of leaving it for the end. Determine the frequency of revisions based on your own needs and on what you feel suits you best.

How many subjects should I revise a day?

If you are taking the average of 8–10 subjects at the same time, we suggest revising two per weekday. This allows you to dedicate considerable time to each of them, which helps you gain more concentration without getting too tired.

Still haven't selected your GCSE subjects? Discover what are the easiest GCSEs to pass.

The starting point: keys before studying

Before you start studying, there are a few tips you may want to follow to make the process easier.

1. Establishing a study schedule

As mentioned before, it is a good idea to calculate how much time you need to dedicate to every subject. Split that among the subjects and allocate daily time for them. With this information, you will be able to set up a calendar with milestones to fulfil, like revision days and mock exams. Stick to this schedule to ensure you study enough hours and cover all the subjects by the end of the course, but stay open to flexibility in case you need to readjust your schedule.

How to do a GCSE revision timetable?

Having trouble creating a timetable? Luckily, we have a downloadable option to offer! Print it and customize it, or use it as inspiration to create your own.

2. Creating a conducive study environment

Even if you are studying for GCSEs at home, a study zone is a must-have. Find a place at home where you can set up your desk and use that space to study and keep your study materials there. In combination with a study routine, a study zone helps your brain say "it's time to stud", leading to increased concentration and motivation.

3. Setting realistic goals

CloudLearn's courses allow students to fast-track their courses by reducing the average 2 years of study to just a few months. However, while this is possible, you still need to keep realistic goals. Even if you are in a hurry to pass these exams, don't aim at studying 24/7, as this will only make you tired and unmotivated. Maintain a healthy and flexible schedule to stay motivated and ensure success. Additionally, select a reasonable number of GCSEs to sit for. Find out how many GCSEs you should take, depending on your specific goals.

General tips on revising & science-backed techniques

Here are a few revision techniques that can help you learn and memorise topics effectively.

Spaced repetition

Revisit material over increasing intervals to enhance memory retention. Apps and calendars can help manage this schedule. This paper has scientifically proven that spaced repetition increases cognitive activity and thus helps in memorisation, especially with regard to theoretical subjects.

Study Tech nique

Active recall

Test yourself on the material you've studied without looking at your notes. This can be through flashcards, practice questions, or teaching the concept to someone else. Active recall will help you understand what points need more work, as you will test how much you remember and how well you can explain it. This method is particularly useful with terminology, timelines and processes.

Take advantage of online resources

Online resources are helpful to expand the material you are learning from, especially when you have trouble understanding some topics. Studying with an online academy like CloudLearn is a great solution for a lot of students, as they can request extra material and practice resources to dive deeper into each subject.

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Save time with an online course

Traditional in-person courses can sometimes be time-consuming, as they are composed of many students with different learning styles and paces. GCSE online courses allow you to navigate the content according to your needs, allowing you to reduce or increase study time at will. Additionally, you can replace commuting with simply sitting down at your desk, enabling you to make the most of your time.

Opt for a personalised tutor

At CloudLearn, you will have a dedicated tutor who can guide you along the path to GCSEs, offering support with subject content, extra materials, mock exams and tips for studying more efficiently. Simply get in touch with your tutor whenever you need it and he or she will get back to you with help, adapted to your particular needs.

Breaks and good sleep quality

Though many students spend the last days before the exam studying all day and all night, it is much more advisable to revise only the topics that you need and take the time to sleep well and rest. Regular breaks and sufficient sleep are essential for memory consolidation and avoiding burnout.

Common study mistakes to avoid

There are a few exam techniques many students usually use, but actually can have negative or null effects on revision.

Rewriting revision notes

While rewriting notes may make your notes look neat and organised, it is often a passive form of study that doesn't guarantee retention of information. The time-consuming nature of rewriting can also significantly reduce the amount of content you're able to cover. Instead, focus on creating condensed summaries of your notes that capture key points, formulas, or definitions. You can also take the time to pour these summaries into flashcards, mind maps and other resources with more value for memorisation.

Colour coding

Colour coding can be an appealing way to organise notes, making them visually attractive and easier to navigate. However, spending excessive time deciding on colour schemes or highlighting every other line can detract from the actual study. Additionally, highlighting should be used only on main concepts and important ideas, or else it won't be useful.

Making posters

Creating posters for visual summaries of topics can be a helpful revision tool for visual learners. However, it's crucial to ensure that the process of making posters doesn't become more about art and creativity than about actual learning. Posters by themselves are not bad, but remember to use them actively for revision; leaving them on the wall won't help you memorise concepts.

The procrastination trap

Procrastination is a common challenge faced by many students during revision. It can stem from a lack of motivation, feeling overwhelmed by the amount of material to cover, or simply not knowing where to start. To combat procrastination, try breaking down your revision into smaller, more manageable tasks and setting specific, achievable goals for each study session, including a reward when you reach every milestone to boost motivation.

Pro tip: The hardest part of a task is often getting started. That's why a great idea to combat procrastination is to sit down and commit to doing the task for just 10 minutes. You'll find that once you've overcome the initial resistance, it will be much easier to keep going.

Are you a parent trying to help your child succeed at GCSEs? Find out how to help your child prepare for GCSE.

Best revision techniques for specific subjects

Though some techniques are widely known and useful, some are particularly useful for certain subjects.

GCSE English

GCSE English often involves studying literature and poetry, writing essays to support your ideas and including key concepts. We suggest analysing your favourite novels and poems and writing essays on your own. Leave your essay aside for a few days and get back to them later. This will help you detect your own mistakes, giving you insights about your writing skills and your knowledge on the topic.

GCSE History

Timelines and mind maps are the most useful for studying GCSE History. Avoid copying pre-built versions from the internet or fellow students and, instead, create your own, as it will help you understand and memorise important dates and names more easily. Remember to use mnemonic rules to help your memory with associations.

For instance, "MAIN causes of WWI" is a mnemonic to help you understand the principal causes of the war:

M: Militarism

A: Alliances

I: Imperialism

N: Nationalism

GCSE Geography

In Geography, understanding and being able to apply key concepts to different case studies is essential. Utilise diagrams to explain physical processes and human-environment interactions. Regularly reviewing case studies and ensuring you can discuss their key features and significance will prepare you for a variety of questions. Create flashcards and mind maps to remember these key concepts and test yourself by trying to explain them to someone else.

GCSE Maths

The best revision technique for Maths is practice. Get your hands on past papers, request mock exams from your tutor and practice with a variety of exercises. Because mathematical procedures can sometimes be difficult, we highly encourage you to practise them regularly until the day of the exam to avoid forgetting any steps or key concepts.

GCSE Sciences (Physics, Chemistry, Biology)

In most cases, Science concepts can be replicated in real life with visual representations, either through 3D models, drawings, diagrams or videos. These may be the best ways to revise for GCSE Science as they are very good resources for understanding difficult concepts that could be otherwise hard to understand in written text.

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Need extra help? CloudLearn is here for you!

With CloudLearn's GCSE Courses, you can study at your own pace from the comfort of your home, preparing for your exams in the most convenient way possible. Tailor the curriculum to meet your needs, and fast-track your learning to complete courses in just a few months.

With access to qualified tutors, bespoke study plans, and a wealth of resources, CloudLearn can support your revision journey every step of the way. Whether you need help understanding complex concepts, managing your study time effectively, or simply seeking motivation, CloudLearn's personalised approach ensures that you have the tools and support needed to succeed.

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What is the 2 3 5 7 revision rule?

The 2 3 5 7 revision rule is a study strategy suggesting that you review your material after 2, 3, 5, and 7 days. This method leverages spaced repetition, helping to improve long-term retention of information by revisiting content at increasing intervals.

What is the 80/20 rule in revision?

The 80/20 rule, or Pareto Principle, in revision posits that 80% of your exam success can come from 20% of your study material. Focus on the most important topics that are likely to appear on the exam for efficient studying.

Is it ok to have a day off revision?

Absolutely. Taking a day off from revision can prevent burnout, recharge your batteries, and improve overall productivity. It's important to balance study with rest for optimal learning outcomes.

Is it better to revise in the morning or at night?

This depends on your personal circadian rhythm. Some people are more alert and absorb information better in the morning, while others find they concentrate best at night. Choose the time when you feel most focused and energetic.

How to get all 9s in GCSE?

Achieving all 9s in GCSE requires a combination of thorough understanding of the syllabus, consistent revision, strategic practice with past papers, and addressing weak areas promptly. Tailoring your study technique to your learning style and seeking feedback can also significantly help.

How do I motivate myself to revise for GCSEs?

Set clear, achievable goals, reward yourself for reaching them, and keep your bigger educational or career aspirations in mind. Creating a study routine, breaking down tasks into manageable chunks, and staying positive can also boost motivation.

How many past papers should I do GCSE?

There is no set number of past papers that you should do. We suggest practising with them until you feel confident and you consistently achieve good results. If you have a tutor, ask him or her to give you feedback on your performance and follow their recommendations.

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