Goodbye, GCSEs

30 August 2018

I'm sure that many of us who have recently sat our exams this year breathed a collective sigh of relief when Results Day came around last week. It was like closure, to be honest, because I didn't actually feel like GCSEs were fully over all summer. 

But alas, Results Day has been and gone, and I couldn't have hoped to be any happier with my results than I was. 

This year seemed to be particularly difficult for us all as we tackled the new grading system that brought much stress to everybody's door. It was, by a long stretch, the most stressful time of my life so far. There were minimal past papers to use as practice, only specimens of what we might have to face; it was almost impossible to predict how difficult these new exams would be, which only made it all the more stressful. And as a result, we should all be so proud of what we achieved as a year, regardless of whether the grades achieved were what you were hoping for, because it was such a challenging set of exams for us to face. 

As I've now finished my exams and still have it all fresh in my mind (!), I thought I'd share some of my experience and how I managed to get through these past two years. Some of these are the things I wish I'd known myself, so I hope that somehow, somewhere, they might help someone else now in the same boat as I was!


As soon as you enter your first week of year 1 of the courses, you'll probably feel overwhelmed by the significant increase in volume of revision, coursework etc. that you'll have to face over the next couple of years. And if in week one you already can't stand the thought of taking a subject for the next two years, you still have time to change it!


Lessons are the time when you come to learn brand new knowledge which, chances are, you probably won't cover again for a while afterwards. And there's nothing worse than looking through a revision guide and wondering what on Earth you're looking at because you didn't really focus at the time of learning it!


I can honestly tell you that after two years of GCSE Maths, the thing I regret the most is not asking at the time of learning if I didn't really understand it. Oh, yes – I did the classic 'I'll just teach myself at home', which is an exceptionally bad idea when you remember the volume of work from all your other subjects you also have to revise. So, the moral is: if you don't get something at the time, ask!


One mistake I definitely made was not working out which revision technique worked best for me, for a long time. I tried sticking sheets to the wall, using past papers, reading out loud, being get the idea. I finally worked out what was best for me in my last year of studying. I did find that past papers and flashcards were the way forward. 


I can confidently tell you that one of the best things you can do is revise smartly. By this, I mean not procrastinating (or avoiding it as much as possible! I'm pretty good at procrastinating, it must be said) and getting rid of distractions. Another thing worth a mention is revising what you actually need to revise! It's definitely human nature to revise the content you're better at, and I did find myself doing this! If you know something, go over it once and move on for now - you van always come back to it later - and revise your weaknesses instead.


This, I feel, is the most important piece of advice I could give. As much as you feel you have to study every minute of every day, don't! Leave yourself time to chill, socialise, what have you, and don't revise to the point where it becomes unbearable. Leave time for and look after yourself, and have as much fun as possible!

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