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Expect the unexpected in your exams

Thursday, May 24th, 2018

Every year, the GCSE and A Level examiners outdo themselves by throwing in cryptic questions which only Sherlock Holmes could crack!

This year is no exception – if the Science and English exams are anything to go by… How can you get round this? It’s all bananas … or is it?

How to handle the unexpected

  1. Learn to think. First, exams are not designed to get you to merely regurgitate facts. It might seem like that, but in reality, education is designed to make you THINK on the spot. Many exams ask you to solve problems, or use the information you’ve learnt.
  2. Take a deep breath. Does an awkward question throw you off beam? Don’t let it. Sit with it for a minute or two. Try to re-think the question in your own words – in your head. Even write notes round the question to generate ideas. Sometimes, abstract questions need a little more thought. Take a deep breath, don’t let it outface you, read it again and again.
  3. Don’t expect the obvious. English Literature exams are perfect examples of this. Students pray that the main characters come up in the questions, and then when they are nowhere to be seen, internal panic spreads across the exam hall like wild fire. (Cue Lord of the Flies!) It makes sense to learn about some of the other characters and poems in your texts. But, more importantly, if you know WHY the writer included them in the first place – and there is ALWAYS a reason – then you won’t find it so tricky if other characters are the unexpected stars of the exam paper show.
  4. Practise practise practise. This goes without saying – the more you practise exam questions, the more you’ll be able to fend off an attack of nerves when a ‘bonkers’ question pops up.

If you are in year 10 or year 12, it makes sense to start your exam prep early so you can handle those tricky little beasts with ease. Your final year flies by so fast, that it’s worth taking this on board early.

If you’ve still got two weeks of exams to go after half term, spend half term planning for the unexpected. As you just never know…

As ever, contact our tuition dream team here in the heart of Cheshire if you want to get cracking early. With a bunch of the best tutors across the Manchester area too, we’re ready when you are.

How to get yourself through the exams

Thursday, May 10th, 2018

Exam season is finally here – whether you are sitting SATs exams, GCSEs or A Levels. Tutoring young people day in day out, we understand how important this point in your life is to you.

We also know what a struggle it can be to get through it all – especially when you are not feeling confident.

So, our fab tutors across Manchester and Cheshire would like to share some thoughts with you to help you on your way.

  1. Keep going, don’t give up. It takes courage to sit any exam, and you have loads of it. Look at all of your achievements so far. Those practice exams you didn’t think you could do, those quotes you remembered, the way you picked yourself up after not doing so well and kept going… Incredible. You CAN do this!
  2. Keep trying. Tempting as it is to think you are rubbish at a subject that is important, don’t listen to negative thinking. Instead, do something positive today to help you tackle your fears: create mind maps to single out areas you know about to give you confidence. Then mind map the areas of the syllabus you are still unsure about. Tackle those first.
  3. Take each day as it comes. Every day is a new day. If yesterday’s revision didn’t go to plan, let it go. Instead of dwelling on what went wrong, think about what you can do to put it right. Struggling with something specific? Get help with it. Ask teachers, look online, arrange a tutor.

Remember: worrying gets you nowhere. Your worth in life is not measured by your SATs scores, or your final exam results.

While exams can open up doors and offer opportunities, there is so much to experience in life and look forward to.

Give your all to these exams now, and try your best. No one can expect anything more of you.

Then look forward and focus on your next challenge in life without looking back or worrying about how you might have done.

Last minute exam support is here

If you need a burst of confidence, practical knowledge or techniques to take you through the exams ahead, call our 121 Home Tutors team today.

 

Beat exam anxiety this summer

Thursday, April 26th, 2018

Is your child facing GCSEs and A Levels this year? Look out for signs of panic: sleeplessness, complaints that they just can’t revise, restlessness and moody behaviour.

The problem with stress is that it stops you from thinking straight. If you can’t think, you can’t process information. And when that happens, an already anxious head becomes overwhelmed fast.

How to help your child stay calm in a crisis

  1. Practise deep breathing techniques. Spend some time practising breathing in for five counts, and then exhaling out for twice that. It really DOES work!
  2. Focus more on key subjects.  If your teen needs specific subject grades to go onto further study, help them focus on those subjects now. Ideally, list any areas (for each subject) that cause anxiety and then make a plan of action to confront them. Ask teachers for specific help, add to revision timetable, enlist support of a private tutor.
  3. Put health first. If your teen eats well, sleeps well, gets fresh air – and doesn’t stay glued to revision every minute of the day – they are more likely to do well. Less sugary snacks and drinks – and more water, fruit and veg – are natural brain boosters too!
  4. Talk Talk Talk! Exam nerves are normal… Keep reassuring your teen that it’s OK to feel anxious to help them keep the exams in perspective. Use lots of positive talk, not negative ‘if you don’t pass…’ type language.
  5. Look online… Childline is a fantastic resource. There’s hints and tips galore to help your struggling teen manage their exam nerves this summer. Check this out!

As ever, our experienced tutor team across Manchester and Cheshire know all about exams!

When you need some last minute support for this year, or you want to help support your child taking exams next summer, get in touch with us here at 121 Home Tutors.

Is your child sitting SATs?

Saturday, April 14th, 2018

Sitting exams is an inevitable fact of school life. The two key tests at Primary level are the Year 2 and Year 6 SATs.

As a parent, it’s natural to worry about how your child might do. However, it’s important not to be over-anxious about them.

Primary school can be a tough environment for our children anyway. Children constantly compare themselves to their peers, and get worried if they don’t feel as good as everyone else.

You’ll know if your child comes home saying they’ve been moved up or down a class/table, how much they care about doing well. The excitement and disappointment is felt in equal measure.

In the face of school targets and expectations, we think it can help to put them into perspective. Here’s some advice from our Manchester and Cheshire tutor team on how to do just that.

Surviving SATs with a smile

  1. Encourage your child to see SATs as just one part of their whole education. The ability to think for themselves, to be kind, to help others, to work as a team, to care about others are just as valuable…
  2. Read for pleasure with your child. If you as a parent can make time to read, it’s surprising how valuable children will see it. Why not read with your child too? Publications like The Week Junior are a great opportunity to read with your child. Get them to skim and scan for information – a great tip for negotiating the Reading test.
  3. Tests are like solving mysteries. Get your child to imagine they are a detective cracking a case. For English tests, they are always looking for clues. (quotes and information) For Maths, they have to crack codes and numbers to solve challenges.
  4. Have fun with Maths. Search for multiplication tables games online, or you could use a simple pack of cards to practise addition, subtraction, division or multiplication. Also, get in the kitchen: it’s surprising how many Maths calculations you do when baking!

Our advice is to try and help your child keep these exams in perspective by not making them the be all and end all.

Of course, some children need that extra push and support when feeling under pressure. It’s something our children have to replicate at GCSE level too, so it makes sense to support them early on with a healthy mindset.

If you want to chat about how a course of tuition lessons could help your child do just that, do get in touch with our tutor team today.

Remember though: try to stay calm yourself. Your children will make their way in the world in spite of exams and tests…

Help! I can’t cope with exams…

Thursday, March 15th, 2018

This time of year feels like GCSE and A Level students are wading through a mud swamp!

With teachers still completing the syllabus, practicals and coursework to finish – and endless mocks on top – it’s not surprising if your teenager feels up against it just now.

What can your son or daughter do to avoid burn out this time of year?

  1. Get positive feedback. If a recent test in school has left your child demoralised, speak to the teacher about what you can do to help. Dwelling on a bad result is a sure-fire way to knock confidence at such a critical stage.
  2. Chunk big challenges into small ones. Stress can strike overnight when a student feels overwhelmed. Help your teen break down a big challenge into several parts. This way, your son or daughter needn’t be floored by challenges, but will be able to work through them.
  3. Focus on one thing at a time. Multitasking is tricky as you can end up doing a 1000 things at once and not achieving anything. Instead, encourage your teen to work on top priorities first, and then dividing up time between them. It’s worth checking with the school about deadline dates too.
  4. Don’t leave things ’till the last minute. This happens ALL the time! Nothing can bring a bout of stress on than being late, not being organised, leaving everything to the last minute. Get a calendar just for your child’s studies to add exam dates, list things needed for specific dates, and deadlines. This will help you plan ahead!

Be wise and revise

If your child needs an extra burst of energy, confidence or practical knowledge, arrange a private tutor.

With the Easter holidays in sight, it makes sense to make the most of the Easter holidays by planning out revision and addressing any difficult areas before the summer term.

Just reach out today to our fab tutor team here at 121 Home Tutors across Cheshire and Manchester.

 

I just can’t revise!

Monday, February 5th, 2018

How many times have you heard your son or daughter say this in the last year? It’s a common phrase our local tutors across Manchester and Cheshire hear ALL the time.

And it’s a worry because effective revision really is the key to success in GCSE and A Level exams. But what does effective revision look like?

For starters, we know what doesn’t work. Just re-reading, highlighting and copying out chunks of a text, or cramming is a sure-fire way to forget information instantly.

Instead, you have to train your brain to remember more. Here’s how to do it!

3 Fail-Free Revision Strategies

  1. Go graphic! If you re-create information you’ve learnt into a visual text, you’ll be more likely to remember it. Think Venn diagrams, spider, web or mind maps. Typical ideas could be: draw a Venn diagram to compare two poems for your English Anthology poetry. Draw a chain of bubbles for a historical event to order the main facts and reasons in your head.
  2. Take proper notes! Try the Cornell note taking system if you go to a revision class or tuition session. Basically, you split an A4 sheet into three: Notes where you bullet point ideas and information that you hear. Cues where you ask questions, draw visual cues to jog your memory. And finally a Summary section where you summarise the most important points.
  3. In a minute! With a friend or family, talk for a minute on the term or topic you’ve been revising without hesitating or stopping! This recall game makes learning much more fun, while isolating areas that you are still unsure of. If you focus on explaining a topic out loud or on paper if you wish you’ll know the information came from your memory. That matters! 

Need specific subject support?

If you are really struggling, worried about how to remember lots in such a short space of time or just can’t get your head around a topic, get help.

With a fab tutor team spanning Manchester, Stockport, Wilmslow and Cheshire – including many other local towns and villages – we’ve a GCSE or A Level tutor ready to help.

How To Stay On Track This Term

Monday, January 15th, 2018

Is your child is facing end of year exams this year? Whether in year 6, 11 or 13, this can be a stressful time for everyone.

With the Christmas holiday break, short days, endless rain and cold weather, your child might be less than enthused about school work this term. How do you get them back on track?

For some children, the enormity of what lies ahead can de-rail them at any second. That’s why it helps to set some smart goals this time of year to help your child stay positive.

Let’s get practical

  1. Get into a routine and stick to it. With 16 weeks until the exam season, it can help to set out your short term and long term goals. Prioritise the key subjects you KNOW you need, and whittle down the key areas you struggle with. Once you do that, set aside some time during the week and weekend to focus on them.
  2. Keep a tick-list with built-in rewards. Reward yourself with something fun and relaxing each time you tick a goal off your list. Create playlists on Spotify that relax you so that you enjoy your downtime. Get some brain-boosting exercise!
  3. Fight negativity. If you’re at your desk and boredom creeps in, or nothing’s going in, cut yourself some slack. Instead of feeling frustrated, go and do something physical rather than forcing yourself to stay at your desk. This way you’ll keep your stress levels in check and will come back to the task refreshed.
  4. Keep the end game in sight. Write your goals on a sticky note or create a poster. Perhaps you have a long term dream? Even if it’s just to go to college, have a swish car one day, or to travel, do this and you’ll have a daily reminder that this study time is short lived. Remember: this is the final push before your future happens. Keep telling yourself, ‘I CAN DO THIS!’ 

Still struggling? Help is here

If you’ve lost sight of the future, are wracked with worry or feel stuck with a key subject you simply HAVE to pass, consider a course of private tuition.

With a choice of GCSE or A Level tutors handpicked for you, you can be back on track in no time!

  • In Wilmslow, Bramhall, Urmston or Trafford and need a Maths or Science tutor?
  • In Bramhall or Chorlton areas and looking for a fab English tutor?
  • Perhaps you need a language teacher? If you’re in Altrincham, Didsbury, Saletown or Trafford, you’re in luck.

Get in touch with our popular tutor team today.

Which GCSE subjects do you NEED to pass?

Wednesday, December 27th, 2017

Have you just sat your mock exams? If so, or you are about to, you might be worried about how you’ll do in the ‘real’ exams coming up in just a handful of months.

Mock exam results can be a shock to the system. Achieving below C grades can cast your immediate study plans in doubt. And if you achieved 2s or 3s (E and D equivalent), you might be panicking about how you’ll do in the summer.

The truth is, as important as all your subjects are, some are more crucial than others. That’s why it helps to sniff out what the entry requirements are for further education colleges and 6th forms.

What are the typical entry requirements?

In many cases, you are expected to have at least 5 GCSEs at grade C or above – with English Language, Maths and Science usually specified as essential. This is certainly the case if you want to pursue A levels.

If instead you have your eye on a BTEC or vocational course – vocational level 2 or above – you need to check as many courses still require minimum 4 GCSEs with English Language and Maths as standard.

Some colleges such as Loreto in Manchester expect you to have a minimum of 6 GCSEs with at least 2 at grade 6 or above – B equivalent – in order to study there.

How to achieve the grades you really need

  1. Over the next few weeks, why not prioritise those key subjects you KNOW you need in order to move forwards after the summer exams. In reality, you have 16 weeks from now to shape those grades up.
  2. Re-taking isn’t an easy option these days, so it makes sense to try your level best first time round. Narrow down where you went wrong in your mocks – which key subjects, papers, areas of study – and focus on those as part of a revision plan.
  3. Arrange tuition with a professional, private tutor who has supported previous students in your position through their final exams.

Where to go from here? With some experienced English, Science, and Maths – plus 11+/entrance test – tutors across South Manchester and Cheshire on the team, we can get you ship shape in no time.

And if you are in WilmslowDidsbury, Sale or Chorlton, we’ve a tuition team ready and waiting to help. 

Ready to explore how personal tuition can work for you? Please contact Alison at 121 Home Tutors today.

Study smart this Christmas

Wednesday, December 13th, 2017

Gah! Exams always appear at the most inconvenient times, don’t they? When it’s hot in the summer, or just before or after Christmas.

The truth is, exams are a process that we all go through in life. So rather than feel ‘doom and gloom,’ aim to study smart this Christmas.

Here’s our roundup of top tips so you can do just that this festive season:

  1. Hit the target! List tricky subject areas and focus on them, not what you find easy. If you are daunted by something, mooch over to YouTube. Countless teachers now add videos to share. This is especially good if you can’t get on with trawling through exercise books to revise. Targeted revision like this will also mean you have plenty of time to enjoy yourself as well.
  2. Book some fun! Star Wars: the Last Jedi is hitting the screens now. Book advanced tickets, if you’re looking for a galactic buzz this Christmas. If you’re not a die-hard fan, get yourself out the house doing something you love. Jump about at a trampoline park maybe? Or else check out local attractions.
  3. Revise and recall! One of the best ways to retain information is to revise for short bursts (of half an hour) and then apply that knowledge by testing yourself. This way you’ll feel like you’re making solid progress. Maybe do a test on algebra, or study a couple of poems and write a comparison essay? Use online papers from exam boards, or just google it. You’d be surprised by how many free papers are online!

And if you hit a brick wall over Christmas, write a list of the things you struggle with and resolve to do something positive about it when you are back at school.

Arranging a tutor can be one of the quickest and most helpful ways to knock uncertainty on the head. Drop a line to 121 Home Tutors for further advice. With a fab team covering many areas across Cheshire and Manchester, we’re sure to have someone to help you.

May the power of the force be with you this Christmas!

Why hire a private tutor?

Sunday, October 15th, 2017

Why are more and more parents turning to private tuition to support their child achieve? Everyone has a personal reason, of course.

However, as one of the top tuition services across Manchester and Cheshire, here are just four reasons we constantly come across:

A confidence booster

If your child is struggling at school, and just can’t get a handle on a weaker subject, private one to one tuition can help your child get to grips with a tricky topic fast.

Unable to ask for help

Many children are introverts, and hate asking for help in class. Usually the fear of looking ‘stupid’ in front of peers can scupper them from sticking their hand up. Over time, struggling becomes the norm, followed by plummeting grades and student stress.

One snag is that if you went to school in the Dark Ages (!!), you’ll know that many subjects are taught differently nowadays.

So if you don’t feel confident teaching trigonometry, Science subjects or 19th century literature, a private tutor can help! Besides, most children prefer their parents to be parents – not teachers.

Teacher change/issue

Some children feel lost when their teacher leaves – often finding it hard to transition to a new one.

Sometimes, too, teachers are so busy fire-fighting poor behaviour in class, that your child’s problem gets inadvertently over-looked.

Quality time with a tutor can help your child re-engage with the subject again.

Lagging grades

If your child or teen comes home from school with a bad report and shame written all over their face, you’ll know how hard the fall is when grades slip. And worse, some children find it so hard to claw back by themselves…

A private tutor will not only help your child work out why their grade slipped in the first place, but help them develop new strategies to ace it next time.

Finally, a good tutor will help your child believe in themselves more rather than feel such shame at failing. After all, learning from failure is the way we all learn in life.

Call 121 Home Tutors today

Call Alison and the team if your child is struggling, if they need a boost to their grades, or you want your son or daughter to prepare for an entrance or mock exam.