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The online guide to passing your GCSEs A D English Maths Science Religious Studies MFL (Modern Foreign Languages) History Geography Technologies (Resistant Materials, Textiles, Food Technology) Art Music PE BTEC ICT B C
English So, you’re likely to be reading An Inspector Calls, Lord of the Flies OR Of Mice and Men, War Poetry OR Love Poetry for your final literature examinations. The first thing to do is to buy the guides that your teachers offer you – they do come in handy. Write in the books (in pencil of course) because its useful to have them there when you read the book, so you’re always thinking analytically. It might be an idea to buy a fresh copy – that way you can write in it and highlight it as much as you like; and you will need a clean copy in the exam or you could get disqualified for ALL of your other exams. So a heavily noted book in your exam is a massive NO. I don’t know about you guys, but I wanted to torture my book as much as possible after the exam, so if you have your own copy – you need not waste wood on your bonfires. What else is there…… Oh yes, make sure you don’t “waffle”. I had a tendency to “waffle” and aside from annoying your teachers when you write four sentences about a point that could be covered in one, it takes forever. Time management is so important in your exam and was something I struggled with, so remember to keep it succinct. As for the language paper, don’t be afraid to mention the obvious – summarising what the piece is about won’t take up a lot of time and could be that difference between a B and an A. And don’t think you don’t need to revise for English – it could be the gravest mistake of your life.
Maths Additional Maths: Only take this if you think you can – and definitely take it if you plan to take maths at A Level. I took it because it covers a lot of the A level course, so a qualification in this is almost as good as an A Level, and there was NO WAY I was doing that. Once you start the course, read ahead, it will help, ask your teacher what you will be covering next. There is no text book as of yet for this course, so don’t lose your sheets, a glue stick can go a long way. So go ahead and buy one. Please please please in the name of all the stars in heaven, PRACTISE. You have no idea how helpful practise papers can be. Just nag your teacher like there’s no tomorrow. They won’t mind. Statistics: Science geeks, this one is supposedly meant to help you if you are pursuing A Level Science. This is a 2 year course covered in just 1 year, so I’ve heard. So treat your text book like it’s your Bible. Finance: Word of warning: if you carry on at A Level here at WGSG, you will have to take a compulsory finance course. Those lucky GCSE finance students don’t have to do it, so if you really don’t want to take this course at A Level, then get it over with now. I will say that it is not overly difficult – with the right revision you can pass with flying colours. It’s not too bad doing this at A Level – so if you’re looking to gain an extra qualification, choose one of the others and we’ll see you next year.
Religious Studies Don’t be complacent about this course. My attitude towards RS was along the lines of “oh this is so easy there’s no way I need to revise for RS”. To be honest, I never really did; I got 97% in my mocks without so much as opening my book, so I did minimum revision for my GCSE. I only got a B at GCSE, and there’s absolutely no reason why you can’t get an A or an A* for this course. So don’t be lazy. GOD IS IN THE DETAIL!
Science We are now approaching one of my faves, so pay close attention because this is my territory. Once again, I implore you, buy the guides your teachers offer you. I owe CGP a certain amount of my success. If you struggle with science, then it might be an idea to recap what you learnt in that lesson when you get home – it’ll only take 10 minutes just to scan read it. We have a pretty amazing science department ladies, so if you’re stuck, just ask them, they’re not going to bite your head off. Follow my guide on how to write a great science experiment and I can ensure that you will at least do brilliantly in the IAAs. As for exams, just study hard. Mind maps can be incredibly useful, whatever works for you. When I started my science revision, I all but worshipped my CGP book – they really are worth buying.
Writing a great science experiment Introduction: What is the aim of your experiment? Research into the science what you’re experimenting, are there any moral or ethical issues? Health issues? Hypothesis: What do you think will happen? Why? Method: Step by step how you carried out your experiment. Draw your apparatus. Variables: Independent variable: what you change Dependent variable: what you are measuring Control variables: what you are keeping the same Validity, Reliability and Accuracy: Validity: testing the aim of the study, how well variables are controlled Reliability: concordant data repeat anomalies Accuracy: use of apparatus, where it is carried out
Results: These will normally be in the form of a table, so I recommend using excel. Graph: Do it on paper or on excel, it doesn’t matter. As a preference, I always did mine on excel because I think they looked neater, but if you’re going to need your graph in an IAA exam, paper might be a good idea. Use graphs as an easier way to spot patterns in your results. Conclusion: Refer to your hypothesis and the science involved. Try to find patterns in your table and graph and analyse them. What do they mean? again, reference to science to explain why this pattern occurred. Evaluation: What went well in the experiment? What didn’t? Offer an explanation as to why things that went wrong did. How could you improve – reference to validity/reliability/accuracy
MFL (Modern Foreign Languages) The tricky thing with languages is, either you understand them, or you don’t. Revise vocabulary, grammar and tenses as a priority; it really helps if you can conjugate verbs in various tenses. Learn the irregular verbs too – they’re sneaky little devils. When you are doing speaking and writing examinations, put as much detail into it as you can without making it too long. How long too long is will be up to you – it all depends on how much you think you can remember. Try to get the preparation done in the lessons – you will have your teacher’s guidance and you will be able to leave yourself as much time as possible to learn it after you’ve written it. You should write at least 250 words – as long as you’ve reached that milestone, it’ll be quality, not quantity that counts. DON’T PANIC, you’re allowed a dictionary and a sheet of 30 words to remind you of what you wrote. It’s easier than you might think – I took French and German at GCSE, the exams for the different languages were always close together AND I wrote over 450 words for each one. I still did fine. A helpful website I find is: www.languagesonline.org.uk. Everyone has to do French, so here are some more useful websites specifically for French: http://www.laits.utexas.edu/tex/gr/index.html (grammar) http://www.nelsonthornes.com/secondary/modern_lang/ap/default.html (grammar and vocabulary) MY FAVOURITE – www.verb2verbe.com on this you can type in any English or French verb and it will show you all the conjugations of that verb, present, past, future, etc. You can also download it as an app on your smart phones!
History Make sure you understand how to answer the questions. Don’t lose focus – always refer to the essay question. Have a firm knowledge of the history you’re going to write about in the exam and you must know key dates above all else. In your essays incorporate both sides of the story but have a firm conclusion – sitting on the fence won’t do you any favours, as well as being extremely uncomfortable.
Geography Welcome geographers! If you enjoy school trips (and who doesn’t) then you’re likely to enjoy this subject. It’s not all fun and games though, make sure you do some work when you’re on a trip. That is the purpose of them, the teachers don’t organise them for their health. There are 2 exams in the course, depending on the exam board, otherwise there might be three. In preparation for exams, it would bode well to know key terms, case studies and to be able to apply case studies to exam questions. Your opinion DOES COUNT FOR SOMETHING. Oh, and learn diagrams like this: Apparently it helps.
Technologies (Resistant Materials, Textiles, Food Technology) Be prepared for an extremely heavy workload. I took resistant materials at GCSE and amazingly managed to get a B. If I can do it, believe me, you certainly can. The work is split into 40% exam and 60% coursework. The exam isn’t horrible – buy the guide the staff recommend you because there are some things in it that the text books they give you don’t cover in as much detail. They only cost about £2, besides, odds are you’ll get the ones we donated back to the school last year. As for the coursework, it requires a lot of work so don’t put minimum effort into it. Start the coursework when you are told to, or you’ll find yourself drowning in it later. If you’re struggling, ask if you can see some coursework from last year to give you a rough guideline – may the lord have mercy if you come across mine.
Art Here is where creativity is really crucial. Like technology, this course is split into 40% exam and 60% coursework. Do put in a lot of effort and pay attention to the assessment objectives your teacher will give you. If they don’t….. don‘t let them forget it – it’s very important. There’s not a lot to be said about art – but what I would recommend is trying out all different kinds of media. Pencil sketches were always my forte, but over time I became more inclined to ink and water colour. Define your style – I preferred all old fashioned things: old tea stained maps and such. When choosing ideas to follow, pick something you won’t get bored of quickly otherwise you won’t want to carry on with it, and that will show in your work. Do a lot of research. If you’re doing, for example, surrealism, MC Escher and Salvador Dali are good artists to research. Do your own interpretations of their work in different media, written responses, develop your own ideas from them.
Music Visit revision websites. ORGANISE your notes and don’t be afraid to ask Mr Roddy for help. When writing music essays, make sure you pay attention to how many marks the answer is worth. This way you can know how many points to write, so you don’t write too much or too little.
PE BTEC Don’t worry too much, it’s not too difficult as long as you stay organised and hand your work in on time. If you don’t understand your corrections then by all means go to your teacher and ask them to explain the work to you so you can improve. If you listen in the lessons, then it’s easy enough to get a good grade – the average grades for last year were double A*. Round of applause.
ICT ORGANISATION IS FUNDAMENTAL. Don’t mess about and laze around on YouTube – we’re teenagers too, y’know, we know what we’re like. Go ahead and try for a distinction, there’s nothing stopping you from your dream of achieving the highest grade in ICT…… Get a memory stick before you do anything, your life could hang in the hands of Fate if you don’t get one. And you know what Fate is like. Always up to his old tricks. In the course you will make your own website, spreadsheets, databases…. All kinds of exciting stuff like that. And put your best efforts in will you? Teachers don’t half get annoyed if you don’t.