How to get top grades in GCSE Science

What is the best way to revise for GCSE Science?

This is of course a very common question. The tip I’m about to share today is a bit like an open secret. I teach students from a range of different secondary schools and they quite often don’t know this. Yet the teachers are all very aware of this and should not only be using this resource themselves, but also telling the students to use it as well.


Now you may have heard this, but I cannot emphasise this enough.


Use the exam board specification.


The specification contains sentence by sentence, point by point, everything that students need to know, understand and be able to do. Revision guides and text books follow the specification to a certain degree, but you should always use the specification first. This is to see exactly what you have to learn. You can then use your revision resources to learn or revise it..

How to use the Science specification

Here is a small section from the AQA GCSE Chemistry specification:


Students should be able to describe:

the difference between the plum pudding model of the atom and the nuclear model of the atom.


This is something you need to be able to do, so the next step would be to find this information and learn/revise it. Most good revision resources follow the specifications, but they will often change the order around or chop up topics differently. And there is often information that is useful, but perhaps not directly linked to the specification, or it is sometimes not clear if you need to know the ideas (Kerboodle books are a classic example). This makes it hard to make sure you have covered everything. The specification can be used as a checklist to make sure everything is covered when you revise.


Science exam questions

It is important to remember that all the exam questions are written from the specification. They are not taken from text book or revision guides or from what the examiner feels like asking about. They are all written from the specification. In fact, if you look at mark schemes for recent past papers, you’ll see that every answer tells you which part of the specification the question comes from. The specification is very important.


And the specifications are all freely available from the exam board websites.


Here is a link to the specification page for two common exam boards for GCSE Science. If you do another exam board, just go to the exam board website and it should be quite easy to find and download the specification.


AQA GCSE Science Specifications


Edexcel GCSE Science Specifications


The specifications also tell you which content is for the higher tier only, what skills have to be developed, what the required/core practicals are and details about how the exams are structured. You must, must, must have a copy of the specification to help you revise.


While you are here, you can register for free access to all the paper 1 video lessons for AQA GCSE Biology, Chemistry and Physics. As you can imagine, they are made exactly to match the knowledge and skills outlined by the specification and the section titles are the same as the specification.


Also check out our short courses, for the chemistry calculations, which once you understand, will guarantee marks in the exam. Up to a whole grade in fact. These course are for just £1.99 per month for Separate Science Chemistry and £1.49 per month for Combined Science Chemistry. They have video lessons, notes sheets, quiz questions and crucially, exam practice questions.


Good luck! Do drop me a line if you have any questions about this or any other aspect of GCSE Science.

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