Revision Tips and Tricks
Students often ask “but how do you actually revise Maths?”. The deceptively simple answer is that there is no alternative to actually doing the questions, and practicing the techniques. The more you do the steps involved and they become second nature, the better you will get. To that end here are some tips on how to prepare for your GCSE exam in the most productive way possible.
As with all revision, but especially with Maths where you’re going to need good concentration, make sure that the space you are using is free of all distractions. Turn off your phone (or at the very least, turn it to silent and put it on the other side of the room so you won’t be tempted by it), only use the computer to find relevant support materials (no checking social media while you’re there) and dedicate you attention to your revision.
Be sensible about the time you are going to spend revising. It might look great on your revision schedule to block out a three hour slot and label it ‘Maths’ but the reality is you will be far better off allocating 20 minutes every day rather than one big block. You can’t concentrate for that long, and the repetition is a key technique to improve recall. In addition, an achievable schedule is far more likely to happen, rather than lofty, but ultimately unrealistic goals.
Target Specific Topics & Techniques
Be specific in what you’re going to learn/revise. Your recent mock exams (since you do one every half term, there’s always a recent one) will have highlighted topic areas where you are not scoring well. If you can’t remember what they are – ask your teacher. Dedicate your 20 minute slot to re-learning / revising that topic.
Don’t just watch a video, read a revision guide, or see a worked solution. Actually prove that you can complete the question by putting pen to paper and completing the calculations yourself. Many resources will give you sample question to try. Do them, and check the answers – do not assume you are able to do it, without proving it.
Modelling & Support
There are plenty of places where you can find worked solutions and explanations. Here are some that we recommend.
Hegarty Maths - hegartymaths.com - over 600 instruction videos and associated quizzes to build your skill set up for your GCSE. The site will also analyse your performance on previous tasks and select your personal Top 5 priority list to work on.
PiXL Maths App - mathsapp.pixl.org.uk – available for desktops, laptops, tablets and mobiles, this app will give you exam style questions on hundreds of topics and track your progress throughout
Mr Barton Maths – mrbartonmaths.com - tutorial videos, question of the week, infinite question generator and even the ability to generate your own full question paper
Corbett Maths - corbettmaths.com - another site with a host of excellent supporting videos, worksheets and answers. Also, host of the 5 a day resource.
Maths Clinic – the Maths clinic runs every Monday after school in M3. If you’re struggling with a topic, this is the place where you can get 1-to-1 support. 5 / 10 mins to get you back up on your feet.
Your teacher – if you can’t make the Maths clinic, or you don’t want to wait until Monday why don’t you find your teacher at break or lunch, or before/after school and ask them for help.
Congratulations! You just learnt how to complete a question that you were previously unable to do.
How are you going to make sure you remember that technique?
Repetition is the key. Leave it 2 days and try to complete a question on that same topic. If you can complete it without any help, excellent. If you needed to remind yourself of the technique, then you need to leave it another 2 days and retest yourself. Once you’ve managed a two day gap, then you should retest yourself after a week. If you’re still able to repeat your success unaided, congratulations – you’ve learnt it now. If you need a little help, then you should again retest yourself after a week. Different people will need different amounts of practice, so don’t worry if it’s taking you a while. Once you’ve managed to lock it in, it’s there ready for the exam.
What’s One Easy Thing I Could Do That Would Make A Huge Difference
I really like Corbett Maths’ 5 a day program - corbettmaths.com/5-a-day/gcse/
Every day of the year has a selection of 5 quick questions covering a huge range of topics. Select the sort of grade you’re aiming for Foundation for Grades 3-4, Foundation Plus for Grade 4-6 and Higher for Grade 6 and above and check you can answer all 5. Answer are provided so you can check your answers. Make it part of your daily routine and before you walk into the exam you will have completed hundreds of questions to boost your knowledge.