Grade 9 is the highest you can achieve for GCSE Science. But how do you reach that top grade? Here's a strategy.
There are 4 steps in this process:
learn, revise, practise, review.
But in order to benefit from this plan you have to give yourself enough time. Cramming at the last minute might get you a pass or a grade that is not too bad, but to get those top level grades, you need to work consistently - not constantly, consistently. Revising constantly is too stressful, but if you are consistent, with a little and often approach, it can be much more effective.
Step 1 - Learn the content 🧬
It is very important that you use your specification, or a checklist written from the specification, to make sure you have learned everything you need to. Read more about using the specification in this blog.
Make sure you understand every lesson that you cover. If you miss a lesson or didn't quite understand it, make sure you catch up. If you don't understand something in class, ask your teacher. But if you don't get a chance to do that, there are other ways to learn GCSE Science topics outside of school, including YouTube videos, revision guides and so on. Understanding is not the same as remembering but if you understand something, you are more likely to remember it. Then revision will be revision and won't end up being you trying to learn something from scratch.
Keep track of your learning
It is also vital to keep track of the lessons you have covered. If you have a printed specification, mark it off as you go. This is so that you don't keep going over the same thing or that you don't miss topics. If you want a pre-made checklist for AQA GCSE science, with revision statements written directly from the specification, with links to YouTube videos, then click here. Just click 'make a copy', rename it and you are good to go. You will need a gmail account (it won't be shared with me) or grab a pdf below.
Step 2 - Revise effectively 📖
When it comes to revision for a test, many students open up a revision guide, start reading and assume that they are revising. Some go a step further and copy text. The thing is, both of these may feel like you are revising but that feeling is usually misleading. If you read something and feel you understand it, that is good, but it doesn't mean you necessarily remember it. They key is to make revision active. That means to recall information without looking at your notes or the revision guide. There are different ways to do this. Recalling information is a good way to find out what you can remember and what you have missed.
Try to find the way that works best for you. You must use recall for revision. But the methods you use are up to you. Common ways are:
This is when you have key questions on one side of a card and then answer on the other. You can use these with friends, family member or just by yourself.
Making mind maps
You can make a mind map of key knowledge, but remember the important thing is to be able to remember. So when revising, try to draw out as much of it as possible. Your original mind map can be neat, but when you recall it, it doesn't have to be neat. Use a mini white board or some rough paper which you can recycle afterwards.
This can be a bit like flash cards but you make use a list of questions to answer to see how much you can remember.
Got any good methods you use? Do let me know!
Step 3 - Practise 📝
This is the next step once you have revised a topic. Students often find applying their knowledge difficult and your exams will have a lot of application questions. The best way to get good at these is to practise. You can use exam questions from a revision guide or from your teacher. There are also a lot of websites that give you questions by topic. A quick search will help you find these but some popular ones are, physics and maths tutor or save my exams. But practising is very important - it gives you an idea of key terminology to use, what questions are asking you to do and also how to be concise and not write too many irrelevant things. Once you have revised a topic, practising is crucial.
Step 4 - Review 📈
This might be the most important step in getting to those higher grades. This is usually done best by looking mark schemes which, of course have correct answers but also alternate ways of writing those answers. They also tell you common incorrect answers that many students give. From this you can make make little notes to yourself if you made some errors, for example not using an important key word or misreading the questions. That way you slowly, step by step, improve your exam technique. And these small incremental improvements build up to a big improvement over time. Don't underestimate the power of incremental gains. 💪🏼
If you carefully follow these four steps, there is little doubt you will get better and using a little and often approach is going to be the best way.
We can't end without giving you a ready made system for doing the above. The spreadsheet has titles, links, check boxes and a notes section to help take the work out of building a revision tracking system. Grab a copy that has all of the below for AQA GCSE Biology, Chemistry and Physics! You own central place to plan and do your revision*. 👊🏼
Click below to get your copy 😀
A google spreadsheet - click 'copy' when prompted and rename as you wish. Store in somewhere easy to access on your device.
PDF - Save and/or print
* Please note, the checklist gives you a revision structure for the whole course. Access is free to video lessons for paper 1. A subscription to the website will give you access to all the videos to all of paper 1 and paper 2, plus notes templates, exam questions and answers. Click here to see details.
Questions? Drop me a line.