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Go to our Monthly revision tips to learn more!


Monthly revision tips

September is the start of the academic year and the best time to start revision. Yes, really! If you start a sensible, planned program of revision now then your whole year will go smoothly with much less stress and worry, particularly at exam time.

Start by being prepared. Spend some money on good stationery whilst you have the time to shop. I recommend A5 casebound notebooks for your Summary notes. Some students prefer to use small ring files of 'flash cards' that serve the same purpose. I write Summary notes in pencil and use pencil for maths exercises using my favourite mechanical pencil with 0.7mm '2B' grade refills. For Maths I use exercise books, size A4, with 7mm squared paper. A lot of my stationery is from Wilkos due to their cheap prices with good quality. For higher end drawing equipment, the Helix manufacturer never fails to impress me. My latest successful purchase is a whiteboard from Wilkos with a weekly schedule outlined that includes whiteboard markers and magnetic labels; my weekly timetable is now clear to see and to check.

The book-case next to my desk holds all my favourite books. Please see my recommendations on the Books page for links to some of these good books. Good preparation really helps the psychology of the student; the aim is to have a positive outlook on work, making efficient use of time. There is no point spending too long on ineffectual study as we all need time to rest, to relax and to socialise.

Did I mention Post-its? These colourful, sticky marvels carried me through University and my jobs. I use these adhesive memory aids as page markers, tabs, job-lists, 'things to do' lists and messages. Marvellous!

In terms of IT, please see my recommended web-sites on my Links page for exam past papers, revision tips and tutorials.

You are now prepared. Well done.

October is the month to establish a good study routine that includes Revision activities built into every day. Review or Revision activities are designed to take learning from the short-term to the long-term memory and to establish newly learnt skills so that they become part of the sub-conscious (so automatic) and not the conscious thought processes. Please note that I am not a medical expert or a psychologist so you should read some good books by experts such as Tony Buzan if you want to understand more about this fascinating subject.

By using Summary notes on a daily basis you will have started the important process of Review where you compress and edit large amounts of learning notes into a more ordered and shorter form. For Maths, the Summary notes consist of formulae (formulas), equations, keywords & definitions and brief worked examples. For Science subjects, such as Physics and Chemistry, the Summary notes consist of keywords & definitions, formulae, important graphs, tables and diagrams. Higher level Biology may require more space for flow charts of processes. I encourage students to use their Summary note books during their lessons to add notes and to check content. The idea is that this helps to order the students' memory and to strengthen the cross-links that our brains form and which aid memory recall.

Finally, start your exam past paper schedule. I recommend 1 past paper per module every 3 weeks. Of course, you may not be able to complete a full past paper, so just attempt the questions that you can. Use a tracker spreadsheet to write down the past papers completed and either raw score or percentage score.

November is the month to begin past paper revision if you have not yet started. The sooner that you get used to the style and structure of the exam questions the sooner you will tailor the rest of your revision to the exam.

If you have your own tried, tested and effective revision system then that is great. If not, then this advice is based on examples of best practise from numerous schools and colleges, over many years. For science subjects at both GCSE and A'level, it is very important to learn the keywords and definitions 'by rote'. An effective and efficient way to do this is to keep A5 summary books with keywords and their definitions, handwritten in order of topic, not alphabetical order. Keep these summary books to hand whilst practising exam past papers. Only write on the right hand page, leaving the left hand page blank so that there is space to add further keywords at a later date. For both Science and for Maths, further A5 Summmary books may be used to write in formulae and maths identities. You may wish to develop these summary books further with diagrams and graphs that summarise topics.

Many schools have Mock exams in December or January. These are very useful guides for you and for your teacher as it is a completely different experience to sit an exam in silence in a big hall, surrounded by other students. Treat these mock exams as a help to your revision; this is a more positive way to deal with these occasions. Learn from Mock exams and adapt your revision once you get your results.

As rough guide, I recommend practising at least 1 past paper for each topic, every 3 weeks. Some students may feel capable of completing more at this point in the year. Remember to mark the papers yourself in a coloured pen, as if you were an examiner. Be strict with your marking as it is too easy to be lenient and think that your answer was 'close enough'. The questions that you get wrong or cannot answer at all are clear indicators as to where to target your revision. Finally, keep a clear record of all the past papers that you have completed on a simple spreadsheet; you can add percentages and grades automatically if you are good with IT or just hand-write your results if you prefer.

Well, Christmas is approaching fast so ask Father Christmas for some CGP Exam Practise workbooks if you are taking GCSE exams or some nice CGP textbooks for GCSE or A'level subjects. These textbooks are actually very good value compared to most school textbooks and maybe some more A5 summary books or a Helix geometry set. Please note that I do not recommend revision guides for organised students. Textbooks and workbooks, yes.

December is a good month to enjoy the Christmas break and to have the time to reflect and think about your studies. What went well and what could you improve upon? How could you make better use of your time so that you have the time to relax, meet friends, do sport and keep healthy?

So how exactly should you revise? And for how long?

For GCSE students, I recommend between 1 and 2 hours per week for Science which includes Physics, Chemistry and Biology. Do not spend more than this or you will not be productive. About 20 minutes of this time should be for writing down keywords and definitions plus formulae into your summary books. The remaining time should be split between the 3 sciences, practising past paper questions. The exam practise workbooks are ideal for this. Mark the questions in coloured pen, write down the corrected answers in coloured pen and read your text books if you do not understand a particular topic. If you still do not understand a topic then write a note and take it to school or college to ask your teacher.

For GCSE Maths students, I recommend 1 to 1 1/2 hours per week. As above, about 20 minutes of this time should be for writing down keywords and definitions plus formulae into your summary books. The remaining time is for past paper practise as before. Mark the questions in coloured pen, write down the corrected answers in coloured pen and read your text books if you do not understand a particular topic. If you still do not understand a topic then write a note and take it to school or college to ask your teacher. CGP (or similar) Exam Practise Workbooks are well suited to this as they include the answers for checking. Make sure that you choose the correct level - higher or foundation - and the correct exam board - Edexcel, OCR, AQA - before purchasing these. Your school will let you know these details.

For A'level students, the main difference is that the time for revision increases to at least 2 hours dedicated revision per week. Most colleges agree that A'level students should be spending about 5 hours of self-study per week so that allows for a couple of hours for normal homework tasks such as textbok questions and 2 to 3 hours for revision tasks. Keep your summary books up to date whilst marking and correcting your exam past papers.

This is a guide, not a prescription. However, please try not to 'over do it' or you will become over-tired and you will not improve!

January is the time of year when the Summer exams start to look real and imminent. This does not mean that you have to worry! The whole idea of a revision programme is to plan the year in order to avoid the stress of disorder.

The following tips are in order of importance. Although I cannot promise that you will achieve 100 percent in your exams, if you follow a structure such as this, you will be a better student and much more likely to do 'as best as you can' or ' maximise your potential'. Already you should have started on a schedule of practising past exam papers and marking them yourself. In January the schedule is 1 past paper per topic / module every 3 weeks, minimum.

The idea of this is to review all the topics on a regular cycle to avoid the need for stressful, last-minute cramming. Over the next few months the teaching of new subject matter will finish and more time will become available for past paper practise.

Keep your Summary books or card files up to date and use them whilst practising those past papers; these are working documents and should be annotated and improved upon, all the time. Summary notes are very effective ways of organising and improving your memory recall. If you are interested in memory then look for books by Tony Buzan.

Tracking your work is an effective, positive and rewarding way to check what you have done. An example 'Revision Tracker' is on the 'library' page. Either a computer spreadsheet or paper spreadsheet or a whiteboard work well. Draw out a big grid and label the columns with your subject topics and label the rows with years and exams: June 2014, June 2013, Jan 2013, etc.,. Either keep it simple with just a 'tick' or add more detail such as score, percentage, comments, etc.,. As you complete past papers in all your subjects, this 'tracker' will soon fill up and look impressive. The more it fills up, the better you feel; so it motivates you. On a practical note, you need to remember which papers you have completed to avoid chaos. It is highly likely that you will tackle the recent past papers twice before the exams.

At this time of year, revision is focussed on the past papers. I do not recommend making yet more notes as you should be updating your Summary notebook or flash cards throughout the year. You need only to add notes to your Summary books if something is missing or you are being taught new topics. Every time that you tackle a past paper, highlight the areas of weakness; where you score low or fail to complete. This is what you now concentrate on. Return to the text book and read the section then try a few simple questions before trying the past paper questions again until you get them fully correct. This way you make the most efficient use of your time so that you have more time to relax, exercise, socialise, eat and rest.

February is the time of year when the teaching of new material should be nearly finished; most teaching finishes in March, hopefully! You should be following your structured revision schedule so that you do not need to do anything dramatically different. As the teaching finishes, you will have more time for past paper practise.

Continue with your schedule of practising past exam papers and marking them yourself. In February the schedule is 1 past paper per topic per module every 3 weeks, minimum, moving to 1 past paper per topic every 2 weeks, ideally, where possible. Keep tracking the past papers completed using a paper or computer spreadsheet or whiteboard. You must keep a record or you will get confused; good organisation will help to reduce stress at this time.

Learn to mark like an examiner. Use the proper Mark Schemes and mark in a red pen using the proper code terms such as 'M1', 'A1', etc.,. You can learn how to mark by reading the front few pages of any full mark scheme, all available for free on the exam board web sites. If you get a question incorrect, write in the correct answer or improved answer, in red pen, so that you will remember this for the next time. Corrections are an important part of revision and worth spending time on. It is pointless to move on to the next past paper without addressing any gaps in knowledge or technique. Marking and correcting a past paper, properly, will take at least 30 minutes.

Keep updating your Summary Book and Revision Cards using what you have learned from your past paper practise. Every time you update or check your Summary notes, you re-inforce and improve your memory.

For calculation questions, use the structure:
1. Variables - Write down the information from the question as a list, using the appropriate letter symbols.
2. Formulae - Write down all the formulae that relates to the question, then select the best.
3. Substitution - Replace the symbols with the variable values. Rearrange & calculate.
4. Final answer, underlined with units. Risk losing marks if your answer is not clear.

I will discuss those long wordy questions next month. Good luck with your revision.

March is the month for not panicking! Don't panic! (Old cultural reference.) I am going to start by saying that exams are not that important. They are important but not 'that' important. The most important thing is your health and well-being. If you do not look after your own health then you will not find other people queuing up to help you, unless you actively seek help.

Firstly, make time every day for light exercise such as a walk. Most people commute to work or school or college. By extending the walking part of your commute, you can easily factor in 30 minutes of walking to each day. I would recommend something more vigorous once or twice a week on top of the walking. Some people already cycle or take part in exercise on a regular basis. The light exercise every day routine is good for your heart and circulation, plus breathing and, most importantly, relaxation. Education and exams can be stressful so you must find ways to manage this stress. Exercise is the best way to do this as the human body has evolved in this way. I am not qualified to talk about 'stress hormones' so I will recommend that you read a good book on exercise and relaxation if you want more detailed advice.

I advise you to draw out a simple schedule for the week - a timetable - so that you place both exercise and rest in first and then fit in your revision around this. This way you will feel better about studying and make better use of your scheduled study time. 30 minutes of quality study is far better than 1 hour of staring at a text book. Your schedule could be a computer spreadsheet or a piece of A4 paper or a white board. Draw a grid for the days and the hours in the day. For GCSE study you need about 2 hours of revision per subject per week; more for Maths & Science, less for other subjects (I am biased). For A' level study you need 4 to 5 hours of revision per subject per week, minimum. Shuffle this around in your schedule, allowing space for eating, tea breaks and 'chilling-out' time. Remember that the exercise time is entered on your schedule first.

For some students, it can be very hard to stay away from the distractions of X-Box, PlayStation, Facebook or even TV. Rather than ban this altogether, I would try to revise in a room away from those distractions and use them as a 'treat' for the 'chilling-out' time that you have scheduled. I have to say that, closer to the exam time, the safest option is to pack the X-box and PlayStation in to a box and put them away for 2 months! Harsh but good advice based on my experience of seeing students fail.

Finally, diet. Yes, eat sensible exercise foods such as rice, pasta & grains plus healthy vegetables and salads. This is to ensure an even level of sugar in the blood so as to avoid highs and lows of energy levels. A healthy diet will also reduce stress and anxiety - read a good book for details. Good health and fitness will help your immune system so that you suffer fewer colds.

So, I have not mentioned much about study techniques. Well, that is because you are already following a recommended study program and doing all the right things - see previous advice - so you don't need to change anything, just continue with your past exams paper schedule.

April is the month to perfect and fine tune your exam technique as your subject teaching should have finished. You will not have time to consolidate and remember any new material. If you have followed my advice over the past academic year then you will be in a good routine for studying, you will be following a realistic schedule of past paper practise, you will see your marks increase steadily with every past paper that you practise and you will be adding occasional notes to your summary books as these will be mostly complete.

As a guide you should be scoring about 1 grade below your target grade at this point in the year. If you are 2 grades below your target grade then you must increase your time spent on past paper practise and seek some help with any problem areas or you will not achieve your target grade. If you are already scoring your target grade then set yourself a higher target! It is better to aim high to motivate yourself.

I have been trying to estimate a target number of past papers to practise as a guide for students. My rough rule of thumb for exam success is that: Grade C students attempt less than 10 past papers; Grade B students attempt between 10 and 20 past papers; Grade A students complete between 20 and 30 past papers; Grade A* students will have completed every past paper available, twice, plus the extra hard practise papers, all the exercise book review questions, again, and they will have nagged their teacher for more questions!

If you are working at home, try to work during the morning and leave the afternoon for exercise and relaxation. A few hours work in the early evening is constructive but then relax, wind down and get to bed at a sensible time. It is much easier to motivate yourself to work if you have scheduled time to relax during the day.

Stick to your schedule for past papers. You should be able to manage 1 past papers per topic every week or every other week at this time of year. Be fair and even with your different subjects; it is tempting to spend more time on a favourite subject. Allow time to mark your past papers and make corrections. You will now know exactly which questions are problematic; target these areas.

Keep going! Have confidence in yourself! You are doing well!

May is the start of the main exams. It is tempting to increase revision by working harder, for longer. Take care!

If you have been following this advice since September then you will not need to work longer hours at all. As the teaching of new topics finishes, you naturally have more time to spend on past paper practise so the revision element will increase without losing sleep or other relaxation time. Sleep and rest are very important, particularly at exam time; mental performance will deteriorate in the same way that physical performance will dip without proper recovery.

Plan nice activities for the Summer to motivate yourself for the next few weeks. Continue to take exercise, even if it is a short walk once a day; half an hour is ideal.

In order to gain a high grade in an exam, it is helpful to be confident in your own ability and aim high for a higher grade than your 'target grade'. If you aim for maximum marks then you are trying to reduce the marks lost by silly errors rather than gain marks. To reduce these silly errors in calculation questions you should be rehearsing all your good practises: set your work out neatly in table format or columns where possible, keeping the equal symbols underneath each other; annotate your work with a few words to explain your method and your reasoning; always write the formulae, show your substitutions, show your calculation, write your final answer with units, underlined. To reduce transpose errors where the wrong number is taken from the question, underline or tick the data as you write it into your workings.

Structure your written questions using the 'PEEE' format of Point Evidence Explanation Evaluation (or similar). This is a common structure and easy to apply to most written questions. Your question plan could be a simple list of a few relevant keywords, a sketch diagram, a sketch graph or similar reminder. Always include the defintion of all relevant keywords that you use in your answer.

I recommend that you make a point of underlining at least one word or phrase in every single question; this focusses your mind on the important points and reduces distractions and errors. Important words such as "not" and "from" completely change the meaning of a question. Keep up with the your keywords, definitions and formulae as your tackle the past papers. Remembering this information as 'knowledge' speeds you up in an exam so that you have more time to spare, so more time for checking, and so a more pleasant experience.

By improving your general study and exam skills, you will become a better student in the next stage of your life. Well done for reading this!

June is the end of most exams! How are your plans for something nice for the summer?

Please don't change your methods now. If you are sitting exams, just stick to your plan, your method and your schedule with no changes. It is much more calming to keep to your routine. Continue with past paper practise, maybe choose some of those more challenging questions, if available, or return to your text book exam style questions.

Good quality sleep is essential to maintain your optimum performance in an exam so do not work any later than usual.

Similarly, good food will keep you alert and prevent sugar rushes or tiredness. For the exam, you should be eating those 'long-chain' complex carbohydrates such as oats in porridge or muesli. Ask your friends studying physical education or biology or catering and they should agree that the natural sugars in bananas and other fruit will give a slower release of energy than the simple sugars such as glucose found in 'energy' drinks. If you have to stay awake and alert for two hours in an exam, you must eat a proper breakfast and lunch. Please remember to take plain water with you to the exam in a clear bottle.

Olympic athletes value rest in between events; you should too. You will be very tired during the exam time so you must allow recovery time or your mental performance will suffer.

Follow those exam techniques that you have been practising such as underlining keywords in the question paper, timing yourself per question based on the number of marks available; you may have one minute per mark or less, to allow 10 minutes at the end of the paper for checking.

Be nice to your parents during this time as its not their fault! They are just trying to help you and are probably worried about you as you may be looking stressed, tired or anxious.

Think how to improve your study techniques next year. Exams make most students want to learn how to study more effectively for the next year. Perhaps you will use that whiteboard for planning or start the summary books in September, not December? I hope so.

More advice for the summer break will be in the July tips. I will be discussing tips such as: buy your books early for next year; do some background reading; practise some basic skills; learn something useful such as coding or Latin; visit or research your next school / college / university; get back to that sport you enjoy but dropped when you ran out of time.

July is the month to relax and do nothing. No. Well, if you don't want to progress in life, earn money, pay off your student loan, go on holiday, give money to charity, do voluntary work, see friends, visit family, exercise or learn to knit then you could waste your summer break. Or you could make good use of your time and do a whole variety of things which are constructive and a break from normal study.

Employers, colleges and universities all like to see people with a rounded life as they are more likely to work well with other people and cope with the stresses of work. There are so many things out there to experience; you need to make the first move and get out. Some jobs that may appear mundane can have a great group of staff to work with that the job becomes enjoyable. Summer jobs, work experience and voluntary work all help you to enjoy the present whilst preparing you for the future. Popular jobs and experiences may require an application upto a year in advance so start thinking now for next summer.

Here are some recommended tasks for this Summer that are quite light and less-demanding, tasks that won’t need doing in September when you are busy, tasks that will keep your brain active and avoid the Summer dip. Of course, exam years are extra busy for students. GCSE student are applying for college courses, choosing A'level and BTech courses. A'level students are completing university UCAS applications or applying for jobs or apprencticeships. Exam years pass by very quickly so reduce the pressure by being prepared and in control.

Firstly, buy books. I recommend that you buy alternative text books that will complement your courses and provide an alternative to the text books provided by most schools and colleges. Currently, the CGP range of textbooks, sometimes called Student Books, are my favourite. As they are a second book, it is not essential that they match your exam board, just desirable. Books are the best way to ensure that you learn the subject content at the correct level such as GCSE or A level; the internet is useful and fun yet rarely provides the appropriate level. So check your exam boards and check if your course is NEW as many are changing this year. Purchase next years text books now and skim read them over the Summer.

What could be more relaxing than sitting in the garden and reading through a text book for a subject that you like, without the pressures of time, homework and imminent exams? In order to focus, use Post-It sticky notes and pencil to mark pages in the books as you read through the book. If you want to keep costs down then look for the second-hand books on Ebay, Amazon or similar book sites as they often advertise their condition and charge little for postage.

Secondly, write out all, yes all, the keywords and defintions for the next year in a shiney new summary book. Set a target of, say, 30 keywords and defintions per day. That's just 10 days for 300 keywords. For maths, write out all, yes all, the formulae and rules. Even maths has some definitions, particularly for statistics. For physics, include all the formulae, too. This advice is suited to most subjects, not just maths and the sciences.

Thirdly, for motivated students, self-teach a few topics. Why? Well, if you are taking A'level or GCSE exams, it is not a good idea to be learning new material one month before your exams. Your brain needs time to sort, organise and practise the use of your new knowledge. Aim to read all new material by Christmas, certainly by February half-term. This enables you to start practising full exam past papers in plenty of time. Your lessons after Christmas will be revision, not a surprise. If you are organised, find the subject timetables and schedules from your school and college then self-teach - this summer - those topics that would be taught to you after Christmas. Purchase next year's workbooks. Past exam papers, practise exam papers, exam style questions and workbooks are essential for a good grade and an efficient use of your time.

Finally, do not be stationary with stationery. Decide on your summary notes system for next academic year. Will you be using A5 notebooks, flash cards or, perhaps, A4 summary pages for a subject like Biology that requires the extra space? If you decide on flashcards then consider a card file box or ring file to avoid losing the cards.

Extra stationery that will help with your organisation includes a whiteboard for a To Do List and weekly homework schedule, perhaps a blackboard if you like the retro feel of chalk. Some people prefer paper diaries to the electronic phone versions so these are worth considering. Of course, make sure that you have a good supply of pencils, pens and geometry equipment. My current favourite writing tool is the mechanical pencil with soft 2B graphite for a smooth dark line and minimal mess; see WH Smith for nice Staedtler models.

If you have a long journey on public transport, consider using lever arch files at home, one for each subject, and use pads of paper or even small exercise books so that there is less to carry. Simply file your paperwork once a week into the lever arch files. This is another advantage of the Summary Notes system as you are constantly reducing the amount of paper that you have to look at. Some text books have an on-line version included free so that you do not have to carry a text book in to school or college every day. I say this after watching students struggle with rucksacks and bags that would embarrass a Marine, so please take care of your back.

August is a great time to think about the year past and the year ahead. If you are moving up then it is sensible to be prepared so that you make a good start to the new academic year and are able to keep up to date with, or even ahead of, the work.

Sixth form colleges usually set some work for the summer to encourage the students to revise those topics that are considered essential grounding for the next year of study. Colleges recognise that there is a dip over the summer which means that some students arrive in September knowing less than they did in June. In my experience, those students who complete all the summer work make a good start and those who do not, do not. As A level studies make such rapid progress, a student who makes a slow start in September and falls behind in their work risks failing a year and so wasting a whole year.

I recommend that students should ensure that they have a complete set of summary notes for their previous academic year. This may be for a move from Year 10 to Year 11 (GCSE), Year 11 to Year 12 (A1) or Year 12 to Year 13 (A2). I estimate that brief summary notes could be made in one full day of the Summer holiday, for each subject; quality summary notes would take more time. Producing summary notes would not be too arduous and this would reduce the amount of time required to look things up the following year. Most good text books have summary pages at the back of each chapter; copying out these pages is a simple and effective review exercise.

What else? Why not teach yourself a new topic. I recommend computer coding -programming- as this skill is in great demand as well as being good fun. Perhaps learn Latin to help your study of Biology? There are lots of free tuition sites on the internet; see the Links page.

A Level Results and Clearing

If your A level results are as expected or better then well done!

If your A level results are above or below your expected grades then you may consider using the 'Clearing' system. This is where universities offer spare places to students with grades on or just below the usual requirements on a first come, first served basis. To make use of these offers you must phone the universities on the day of the results and discuss your results with them. The people who you will speak to are expecting students to be stressed or anxious so do not worry. Look at courses that you are interested in then ask relevant questions whilst on the phone. It is important to phone universities on the day of the results, as soon as possible, and not to leave it until the next day or the vacancies may be filled.
The phrase, "Don't ask, don't get", applies. It is also worth asking your original choice of university, again. They can only say, 'no'.

Finally, well done anyway as A level exams are very hard and you have succeeded in getting this far.


Testimonials

"Chris tutored our daughter in Maths, Physics and Chemistry for the final two terms of her GCSEs. He identified her weaknesses and presented practical strategies for revision and exam technique, all delivered with a smile and in an enjoyable way. It certainly paid off. Our daughter gained Grade 9 in all three subjects, an increase of one grade in Maths and two in Physics and Chemistry from her predicted grades. I can thoroughly recommend Chris to anyone who needs that extra boost. Thanks, Chris."

"Hi Chris, I got A in Maths A in Geography and somehow an A* in Physics, I can't thank you enough because I'd have had no chance of getting anywhere near that without your help so cheers and if there's anywhere I can give you a review that would help you out I'd be more than happy to..."

" My son's work with Chris was a pleasure from beginning to end. Chris has a kind and patient approach, which meant my son looked forward to sessions and didn't experience any stress from having to do additional work. We started working with Chris in the in August before GCSE's in May and this allowed the perfect amount of time for real progress. Our son had always struggled with maths and was in GCSE set 4 out of 5. We initially asked Chris to help support him to go from the Foundation maths group to the Higher maths group, as we didn't want him to only be able to get a C as his highest possible mark. (Chris also helped hugely with his progress in physics, being a physics examiner he gave really useful tips about exam technique, which was an unexpected bonus).

In the end, our son achieved an A in maths which was amazing and A*/A indual science. Many, many thanks to Chris. I couldn't overstate the difference he made to our son's eventual grades, but also what a positive impact had on my sons confidence in maths, and in himself, which will stay with him when exam grades are long forgotten".

"Just wanted you to know that I got an A in my maths. Thanks so much for all you did in helping me get this result!"

"A note to let you know that ... took the entrance exam to ... on Saturday and we received news today that he passed and has been offered a place - we are absolutely over the moon! We can't thank you enough for all your help and ... really enjoyed his lessons with you. We were slightly panicking as he said the test was really hard."

"I'm delighted to report that ... got a B. We're needless to say we're very proud. Thank you again for all your help and support."


A Level Results and Clearing

If your A level results are as expected or better then well done!

If your A level results are above or below your expected grades then you may consider using the 'Clearing' system. This is where universities offer spare places to students with grades on or just below the usual requirements on a first come, first served basis. To make use of these offers you must phone the universities on the day of the results and discuss your results with them. The people who you will speak to are expecting students to be stressed or anxious so do not worry. Look at courses that you are interested in then ask relevant questions whilst on the phone. It is important to phone universities on the day of the results, as soon as possible, and not to leave it until the next day or the vacancies may be filled.

The phrase, "Don't ask, don't get", applies. It is also worth asking your original choice of university, again. They can only say, 'no'.

Finally, well done anyway as A level exams are very hard and you have succeeded in getting this far.


My Keywords and Definitions - GCSE - Summary & Revision Books

After years of encouraging students to create their own summary books, I have produced a series of books to help the student without doing all their hard work for them. These books are a structure or 'scaffold' to assist in the learning of good study skills that will be of use in their next stage of education.

So far we have the three sciences in the series: Biology, Chemistry and Physics. Each book covers the entire AQA syllabus and the majority of the other exam boards. Open up any double page and you will find 5 keywords on the right hand page, the first completed with the correct definition. The student then completes the remaining definitions using help from their teacher, their text book or the lists of definitions on our Downloads page. The blank left hand page is for additional keywords, formulae and important diagrams. The end result will be a comprehensive Summary and Revision book.

The ideal way to use these books is to complete them throughout the school year, using them for homeworks, prep and to help with termly tests. There is nothing wrong with 'flash cards' as a method; we use books as they are easier to organise and store.

These Keywords and Definitions books are sorted in topic order first to match the majority of text books and the way that most schools teach these subjects.

So are these books essential? Well, no. I would be delighted if students make their own books. However, many parents want a way to monitor the progress of their students. I recommend a target of, say, 10 to 20 keywords and definitions per week in order to make good progress. There is a box at the top of each page for a date or tick. This means that the definitions should be completed in 3 to 6 months, followed by formulae and important diagrams.

For a really good revision schedule, simply add an exam practise workbook such as those from the publisher CGP. I recommend half an hour of questions per subject per week during GCSE years, more as the exams approach.

Please send a message via the Contacts page if you want to purchase a book or books. As of March 2019 these books are in stock from our local printers and the price is £7.00 each plus £2 post and packing. If we get the demand then I will set up a Shopping page.



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