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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.

The Science Behind How to Study Successfully

Thursday, October 5th, 2017

It’s true! Science proves beyond doubt that there are certain learning and revision techniques which just work. If you find studying for your GCSEs or A Levels a hard slog, try these little beauties:

  1. Keep on movin’:

    Yes… Gone are the days where you have to stay cooped up in your bedroom for hours on end. Studies show that the brain is more active if you not only switch study locations regularly, but if you move around every hour too. What’s not to love?!

  2. Exercise your mind:

    Would you believe that getting regular exercise increases your capacity to think, remember information and solve problems? It does. No excuses now!  

  3. Variety is the spice of life: 

    Not only will studying one subject per day bore you silly, it’ll be counter productive over time. Chop and change subjects every hour with a break in between to help memory recall and keep your brain tip top. 

  4. Get some shuteye: 

    What’s just as important as exercise? Sleep! The days of staying up all night revision cramming before an exam are over. Remember: deep sleep nurtures and repairs brain cells. Fact! Interested in more sleep science? Check this link out. 

Study skills rusty? Unsure how to do your best?

Studying isn’t easy – especially when you seem to have a million and one things to do. That’s why it can make all the difference in the world to get some expert help from a one to one tutor.

With private tutors available across the Manchester and Cheshire areas, there’s someone there to help you find your way. With tried and tested revision tips ‘n tricks on hand, you can get through it all with confidence. Get in touch with Alison and the team for a no-obligation chat today!

Do you get the new GCSE grades?

Sunday, September 3rd, 2017

Have you got your head around the new 9-1 grades yet? It’s a tricky old business if you’ve got used to A*- G grades for the past 30 years! So easy to be at sixes and sevens with it all!

No wonder there has been some confusion, not least because both A and C have two numerical grades – not one. How do they break down?

9 is a super A* grade with only the top 3% of students expected to achieve it. 8 is an A*, whereas 7 translates into a lower A. 6 is a B. C is a 5 and 4. With D as a 3, E and an F as a 2, and G as a 1, it will take some time before we understand these grades back to front.

To C or not to C?

Controversy over what constitutes a C grade has hit the headlines for the past year. Originally, 5 was promoted as being a strong (more desirable) C grade pass.

Education Sec. Justice Greening then stressed that pupils needn’t resit GCSE Maths or English if they achieved grade 4 – leading to the view that 4 was now deemed a standard pass.

Whether this is understood in the wider world just yet remains to be seen. Certainly, future employers in the Manchester and Cheshire areas will need to be educated themselves about how the new system works. But let’s be positive…

Let’s embrace change

Despite all the controversy, numerical grades are here to stay. And while it is tempting to try to compare them to previous years, it is pointless to do so since the exams have changed in nature. English and Literature GCSEs are all closed book exams with no differentiated tiers.

And with Maths – though still offering higher and foundation tiers – there’s no doubt that the higher papers have much more demanding content than ever before.

And while the new exam specs are different to before, it’s better to see them as do-able challenges rather than horrible hurdles.

Your child is more than a number

As ever, it will take at least another year or two before everyone gets to grip with the new numerical system. By 2019, numerical grades will be phased in across all subjects anyway.

Ultimately, for new students just about to embark on their GCSE courses this year, it’s essential to remember that you are more than a number. If you are finding it hard to get to grips with your GCSEs, always ask for help. Of course, our team of top tutors are always on hand…

Summer Term Results a Wake-Up Call?

Tuesday, July 11th, 2017

No parent wants to admit that their child is struggling with a subject or behind. But the facts speak for themselves…

Year 10 and 12 students often face mock exams in the summer term – only to find they are not where they need to be. With two full terms to go before, panic can easily set in.

Year 6, transitioning into year 7, will be either inspired by their SATs results or gutted by them. Even though this year’s end of primary SATs results were slightly up – with 61% of children reaching the expected standard in reading, writing and maths – this still leaves almost 40% of children struggling…

And worse, as they head off to enjoy a taster day at secondary, tucked in the back of their minds is that they’ve failed their first six years’ of education…

I’m rubbish

Though failure is part of life, there’s no mistaking how hard it can hit our children. Some feel ashamed that they don’t measure up, while others dread going back to school for fear of being teased.

Others, however, take it personally – as if their results are a reflection of them as human beings. If your child has ever cried, ‘I’m rubbish!’ or, ‘I hate myself’ you’ll know how devastating it can be.

That’s why it’s essential to fight feelings of failure head on:

  • Praise your child like mad. Never underestimate the power of accepting your child for their efforts as well as achievements – however small
  • Help them put the exam grades in perspective. Rather than bemoan the marks with them, discuss how to improve in the future. This will encourage them to see that failure is something to learn from
  • Arrange a spot of tuition over the summer holidays and even into the autumn term to help your child get back on track

Look forward, not back

Student stress is well documented – sadly. That’s why it’s even more important to support our children earlier to help build resilience and coping strategies as they go through their education.

If summer tuition could help your child look forward, not back, please get in touch for a no-obligation chat. As many parents across Manchester and Cheshire tell us, it’s so nice to speak to someone who understands.

Eat Smart to Boost Exam Performance

Thursday, May 25th, 2017

Did you know that food CAN improve exam performance? In fact, when you ‘eat smart,’ you can give your brain a massive dose of much-needed energy. Essential when you’re flat out revising and sitting exam papers…

Tasty tips to feed your brain

  1. Don’t skip meals… Breakfast has been proven to be the best meal of the day for teenagers sitting exams. Not only will you perform better, you won’t be struck with hunger pangs just at the moment when you’re trying to think of that quote or formula! Opt for energy-giving porridge and oat brekkies. Nosh on protein such as eggs and nuts to fill you up for longer.
  2. Drink like a fish. Water hydrates you, whereas sugary drinks eventually zap energy. If sipping water isn’t your thing, add sugar-free juice to water instead. It’s a much better option than fizzy colas or sodas as it helps keep you alert, keeps headaches at bay, and helps you perform for longer. Milk is fab too!
  3. Snacks to snaffle. Exams can drain your energy big time! Tempting as it is to raid the biscuit tin as soon as you get home, nibble on nuts instead! Fancy a fruity something? Opt for bananas and apples which slowly release energy into your bloodstream helping spread your energy out over the day.

And if you are a ‘stay-up-late-to-revise’ type, aim to get some shut-eye earlier than usual. A lack of sleep can affect your memory, as well as slow your thinking down. So get yourself tucked up in bed by 10pm!

Whether you’re in year 5, 10, 11 or 13, a healthy mind and body will boost your chances of passing those pesky entrance, GCSE or A Level exams first time round.

Call the tuition team

And don’t forget, when you need an extra helping hand, our team of tutors are on hand with support, motivation and learning techniques. Spanning the Manchester and Cheshire areas, there’s always someone here to help you through.