How I achieved 7 grade 9's at GCSE
This blog is all about honesty so let me start of by saying that I was probably your average "sweat". I tried hard in class, completed most (in the spirit of being honest) of my homework, answered questions constantly but also asked questions. A lot of questions.
But this was not a bad thing (despite what British teenage culture or just teens in general might think). I also played 2 different sports during the week, learned an instrument, went to parties etc. Achieving the grades I got did not require me giving up a social life.
So, I want to give you an insight into what I did that may seem slightly unconventional or different but nevertheless got me so many of those coveted grade 9's.
Surround yourself with people who are slightly smarter than you
Not only does this push you to work harder, there will be topics that you may not understand but they do and can therefore explain it in a simpler way to you than the teacher did, saving you hours of trying to understand difficult topics. Moreover, you can learn the things that they are doing differently inside and outside of class that allows them to get the grades that you are working towards.
If you are someone who is shy and wouldn't necessarily go up to a person and ask to work with them, ask your teacher to pair you guys together, sit next to each other or put you with them when working on group exercises.
Practice verbally explaining different topics to others who may not understand
If you can confidently explain a certain concept or topic to another person, not only does it help them, it shows that you understand what you have learnt and by vocalising this, it reinforces those ideas into your brain.
Try it! After a revision session, go to a sibling, parent/carer, call a friend (it doesn't matter if they have no idea what you are talking about!) and ask for 60 seconds of their time - or you can time yourself. Talk about the topic you have been revising to see how clearly and confidently you can explain it. If you struggle, then it is likely that you will need to revisit the topic at another date.
Approach every mock exam as if it is your actual GCSE
It is sooo tempting to have the mentality of "this exam doesn't matter that much since it doesn't really count towards anything," but as the year 11's and y13's of 2020 realised, mock exams can be more important than you think. This not only provides you with a chance to make revision sources that can be useful when you take the real exams in the summer, it helps you to identify potential gaps in your knowledge about the topics you thought you understood but perhaps not that well. When it comes to planning your revision, you can go over those topics first in more detail and save the ones you did understand for a later date.
Have a bank of flash cards for every topic in every subject
Okay so this may sound extreme and may not work for everyone but if flashcards work for you, I highly recommend it, especially if you are in year 10 and have just started the GCSE syllabus. Since I approached every mock exam or even in class exam as a real GCSE paper, I made sure I revised well for the tests, including producing a set of flash cards every time I had a test. By the time it came to the actual GCSE exams, I was able to go through these flash cards on the way to and from school or ask a family member or friend to test me on them as a quick form of revision.
Annoy your teachers with endless questions
Trust me when I say you will not be the only one confused in your lesson. I can promise you that. If you are not confident enough to ask in class, write the question down and go to your teacher after class or whenever you are both free. There really is no need to suffer in silence and your teachers will love the fact that you are engaged enough to ask them when you don't understand something they may have said.
Constantly answer practice questions and interrogate mark schemes
Past paper questions give you a sense of the types of questions you may be asked in the real exam, as well as a guidance as to how to manage your time. The mark schemes are equally as important since they are literally an insight into the examiners brain. They tell you what the examiners are looking for when they ask you certain types of questions and this is invaluable in manipulating your answers during your exams to ensure you pick up the marks you deserve.
Achieving my set of GCSE results was not easy but the tips I have outlined really made a difference. I was able to work work smart (as well as hard) and enjoy my life at the same time!
Hi, I'm Aba and I started The Student Scope to give other students advice on their academic journey. Have a look around and enjoy!