Year 11 GCSE Exams and Revision

So the biggest exams of your life so far are just around the corner!  This summer is a very important time that will shape your future.  There is no escaping the fact that the next few months are going to be hard work, but don’t panic.  Hours of revision and exams do not have to be a nightmare if you get organised early.  Just think, by the end of June it will all be over and you will have 10 weeks of summer holiday to enjoy!

In your lessons this year and in PSHCE time, teachers have been delivering lessons to help you develop effective revision skills and prepare well for your exams.  Your subject teachers will also have spent time preparing you for specific exams.  But, as this year goes on, more and more will be down to YOU.  This part of the school website provides some useful information and resources to help you achieve the best results you can.

Good luck!


Revision Advice – Top Ten Tips for Revision Success

  1. Start early:  It’s true that it’s never too late to start revising.  By the end of the spring term, you should be well underway with your revision timetable.  Start now and whatever you do, don’t leave revision to the night before.
  2.  Revision timetable:  This is very important.  It will help you manage your time in a way that leads to effective revision and exam success without you getting stressed.  Visit the Revision Planners and Timetables section or more advice about constructing a revision timetable and to download long term and short term planners that will really help you to get organised!
  3. Revision environment:  Find a good place to work where you won’t be easily distracted. Revising in front of the TV or in the garden will not help you concentrate, so work somewhere which is quiet and uncluttered.  The best place is sitting at a well lit desk or table, certainly not lying on your bed with the curtains shut and your books propped up by a pillow!  Turn your mobile off during revision sessions to avoid distractions.
  4. Break your revision up into small sessions:  Most people revise best by working for about 20-30 minutes and then taking a short 5 minute break.  Be strict with the length of your breaks – perhaps just make a drink and grab a snack, have a stretch or send a quick text. Aim to work like this for about two hours (four 30 minute sessions) before taking a longer break.  You may find it helpful to change from one subject to another at break time, for example doing one or two sessions of Science and then changing to History, or alternating a favourite subject with a more difficult one.  It helps to build in some variety.
  5. Be clear what you need to revise:  Make sure you are absolutely clear what you need to revise for each exam and if you don’t know then ask your teacher.  Many subjects have published revision checklists or provided a copy of the exam syllabus.  Use these to ensure you revise the right topics.
  6. Revision materials: Be careful with revision guides that are published to buy in book shops. They try to cover all bits of a GCSE in that subject.  Some subjects have given or sold revision guides to you so make sure you use these.
  7. Revision technique: Make your revision ACTIVE or INTERACTIVE rather than passive. Passive revision is just simply reading your notes or copying them.  While this is better than nothing, research shows that you will remember more if revision is active or interactive.  Visit our section on Active Revision Techniques for a list of active revision techniques that help you revise effectively.
  8. Get help:  If you don’t understand something even after you have looked it up in your notes and read the textbook, then ask a friend or contact your teacher to explain things to you.
  9. Keep healthy:  Make sure you stay energised during your revision timetable by drinking lots of water and eating well.  The best start you can give yourself on a long day of revision and/or exams is a good breakfast, so don’t skip it!  One of the most effective ways to release stress and boost energy levels is to do some exercise – why not go for a run, take a swim or go for a ride on your bike?  Lastly, make sure you get to bed early throughout the exam period.
  10. Stay calm and focused:  If you panic you won’t revise well or perform to your best in the exams.  There will be times when you think that you’re never going to be able to remember all your revision notes but you will if you work hard and stay calm.  The exams are going to happen so you might as well give yourself the best chance of doing well by starting to revise early and keeping calm.

Revision Planners and Timetables

Try to complete and use both types of revision timetables.  Stick both your revision planners somewhere public in the house such as on the fridge or on the kitchen door.  This way your parents can help you follow the timetable and perhaps reward your hard work!  Tick off each part of the short and long term planners as you go to give you a sense of achievement and to mark your progress towards that 10 week holiday!


Long term monthly planner (download here)

  • The best starting point is to mark the dates and times of all of your exams on the long term monthly planning timetables so you can see the timing and pattern of your exams.
  • Then fill in any regular commitments or events you have coming up e.g. birthdays, sports events, youth club.
  • Next, write in what subjects you will revise on each day bearing in mind the timing of your exams.  It is recommended to revise two or three different subjects each day to stop you getting bored!
  • Make sure you cover all topics and think carefully about the amount of time you need to devote to each subject depending on how easy you find the work and how much the exam is worth towards your final grade.


Short term weekly planner (download here)

  • After completing the long term planner, think in more detail about the next week.  Write the specific topics/units from the subjects you will revise on each day.
  • Aim to revise for at least 6 hours a day on days when you don’t have any exams.
  • Remember it is best to structure your revision into 2 hour blocks and then revise for 20-30 minutes sessions split up by short 5 minute breaks.  In your breaks have a drink or send a quick text.  For most people this helps your memory recall information.  At the start of each 20-30 session quickly review or ‘go over’ what you learnt in the last session as this also helps to increase recall.
  • Try to plan most of your revision for the morning and early afternoon when you are fresh and alert and then do something relaxing in the evening.
  • Write onto the weekly planner the fun things you are going to do like meeting up with friends.  This will give you something to look forward to when you’re hard at work!

Active Revision Techniques

Active revision involves you actually doing something with the information you are trying to learn and not just sitting there staring at a revision guide or textbook.  Remember, people revise best in different ways.  In other words, the most effective revision technique is a personal thing so choose what works well for you so long as it is an active technique. Here are some ideas of active revision techniques:

  • Make bullet point notes in your own words from your exercise book, textbook and/or revision guide.
  • Condense your revision notes onto small index cards or blank postcards with just the key facts and key words.  
  • Draw spider diagrams and memory maps with small pictures, symbols and key words.  This is particularly effective for visual learners and helps to show how concepts are linked together.
  • Use colours and highlighters to emphasise important parts of you notes.
  • Write keywords or concepts on post it notes and stick them all over the house so you can challenge yourself as you walk around (the back of the toilet door is an old favourite so you can revise on the loo!).
  • Use mnemonics, rhymes or even songs to help you remember things.
  • Practise doing past exam papers that your teacher has given you.  Then use the mark scheme or your textbook/notes to mark your answers.
  • Ask a friend or parent to test you by asking you questions, using a revision guide, textbook or your own notes.
  • Record your revision notes onto your iPod and then play them walking down the street or during your paper round!
  • Use one of the websites recommended to you by your teacher but don’t just surf the web looking for revision websites because you will get distracted and the site might not be suitable for the GCSE course you did.

Exam Technique – Top Ten Tips for Exam Success

  1. Organise yourself the night before and get plenty of sleep.
  2. Eat a good breakfast to energise yourself for the exam.  A good breakfast would be some non-sugary cereal, toast and some fruit juice.
  3. Check you have the correct equipment with you before you leave the house e.g. black pens, pencils, rubber, ruler, scientific calculator etc.  Your equipment should be in a clear pencil case or small clear plastic bag.
  4. Take a watch or clock so that you can time your answers and don’t have to rely on looking up at the clock in the exam hall.
  5. Leave for the exam in plenty of time so that you are not flustered when you arrive.
  6. If you bring your mobile phone to school with you, you must hand it in to the exam invigilators before the exam starts.  Failure to follow this instruction could mean all of your exam marks are cancelled.
  7. Read each question carefully and focus on the command words (e.g. describe, explain, calculate, compare).
  8. Use the number of marks available for the question as a guide to the length of time to spend on the question and the detail needed in your answer.
  9. Manage your time effectively so that you finish the exam with just enough time to check your answers.  If you have time to spare, double check what you’ve put and add extra detail to your answers.  Picking up just one extra mark could make the difference between two grades.
  10. Stay positive!  If you get really stuck with a question then leave it and come back to it later.  You will often find that once you’ve got some other easier questions under your belt and built up your confidence then the answer to the difficult question will come you! Remember – never panic and try to stay calm.

Revision Drop In Sessions:

When these are scheduled they will be listed here

Links to websites with revision tips

BBC Bitesize

National Citizenship Service

Tutor Doctor