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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.

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!

What’s your secret revision weapon?

Monday, April 24th, 2017

Facing GCSE or A Level exams can feel like you’re stepping into battle! And there’s no turning back…

So, you have to decide right now: are you going in fully armed ready to take on anything? Or will you have no plan of attack and simply try and dodge the bullets?

Metaphors aside, what’s one of the smartest secret weapons you can use in your run up to the exams? The internet! Where a treasure trove of past papers doth lie. YES! That’s the secret. Practice papers…

Better still, most exam board websites have them – including marking schemes. Dynamite!

Why are practice papers such a fantastic resource?

Simple! They:

  • Help you familiarise yourself with what to expect in a typical paper
  • Reduce your stress levels since the more you practise, the better you become
  • Allow you to check your answers against the examiners’ marking scheme
  • Help you get used to juggling different topics at the same time
  • Give you an opportunity to test yourself to exam conditions
  • Give you insight into the range of answers that examiners are looking for
  • Help you highlight weaker areas to focus on as part of your revision

Of course, there is only so much you can do in the lead up to your exams. That’s why testing yourself against exam standard materials can’t be beaten!

How to win the long term learning battle the smart way

If your child is in year 10 or 12, the smartest move is to plan ahead.  As our local tutors and teachers across Manchester and Cheshire say every year, they always come across a stressed-out teen who’s left revision to the last minute.

Far better to iron out any learning hurdles this year, than have a huge mountain of them next. Booking a tutor early rather than leaving it to year 11 or 13 is also a clever move. Many of our tutors are so popular that they are booked ahead.

If you don’t want to miss out, contact Alison – 121 Home Tutors’ head tutor – for a chat to discuss the best plan of attack!

Exam failure isn’t the end of the world

Tuesday, December 27th, 2016

Have you just taken your GCSE or A level mocks and didn’t get anywhere near your predicted grades? Perhaps you’ve exams after the holidays, and are worried you are just not performing at your best just now?

Yes, that’s me. What now?

First off, you’re not alone. Thousands of students like you will be feeling the same crushing disappointment, the same ‘punch’ in the pit of your stomach.

It’s natural to feel gutted that your mock grades don’t match your potential at this moment in time… However disappointing, it’s important to not let yourself feel too overwhelmed.

Instead, as our very experienced tutors and teachers will tell you, now is the ideal opportunity to dust yourself down and look at the big picture… Here’s our top three suggestions on how to handle mock exam disasters:

  • Learn from your mistakes

We’ve all made them. Trick is to use your exam papers to identify where you went wrong and how you can resolve these weaknesses by the final exams. Are you weaker on specific papers than others? Is it a question of timing? Was it your exam prep which might have something to do with it?

  • Fight back with positive action 

Once you’ve pinpointed where you went wrong, use that information to put together your ‘fight back’ regime! Perhaps you need to try different revision techniques? Perhaps you need to practise more exam questions under timed conditions? 

  • Keep your chin up

An exam is only truly a ‘fail’ if you let it. Accept this happened, and move on with determination that these pesky exams are NOT going to get the better of you! Having a positive outlook will help you more than anything just now.

Focus your mind on your long-term goal. Once you’ve decided THAT is worth fighting for, it will make it easier for you in the coming term to leap beyond this annoying blip, and achieve the future success you deserve.

Tackle tricky topics with targeted tuition

Aside from reading more of our exam success tips, you can always get in touch to arrange some focused tuition with one of our experienced GCSE or A Level tutors.

With a pick of the best tutors across Manchester or Cheshire, dedicated 1-1 personal tuition can help you revise all those tricky topics that have held you back before.

How to get first past the post this exam season

Sunday, November 27th, 2016

You’ll know from our last post – Testing times in education – that your child’s school life is full of challenge. And for some of you with teenagers facing mock exams in the next few weeks, it will be all too real.

Of course this year, exams will feel much different than previous ones. At GCSE and A level, your child will be the first generation of students facing the new linear exams – notably in English and Maths. This means a single exam at the end of the course rather than exams with coursework assessment staggered through two years.

‘Performing on the day’ has never been so important!

Elevate your English exam technique

Getting through the post will be much harder for some students than others. In GCSE English Literature, for instance, all exams are closed book ones. Students, then, will need to revise key quotes and information across several texts and poetry to do well.

A useful tip now is to create mini postcards, mind-maps or index cards for each text character, theme and poem. And to revise them over and over. A flashcard system is handy to create since it can be used again for the summer exams – rather than lost in paper files.

Master maths the easy way

Likewise in Maths, getting past the post has higher hurdles than before. With previous higher paper content filtering down into the foundation paper – and the higher paper expanding in difficulty – again there’s more emphasis on students recalling information fast.

That means memorising key mathematical formulae by heart, and practising sample questions time and again to increase confidence.

Failure isn’t a disaster…

Year 11 and 13 students often hit a brick wall this time of year – when mock exam results are a shock to the system. But don’t lose heart. Failing an exam is only true failure if you give up. Instead, see these exams as a dummy run – an opportunity to iron out what to focus on next year.

Above all, work on a system to help you learn in bulk, and to test your knowledge over and over. For extra support in handling these new GCSE and A level exams, call us at 121 Home Tutors.

With some of Manchester and Cheshire’s finest tutors to hand, that post will seem so much easier to whizz past!

Need last minute revision techniques that work?

Wednesday, May 4th, 2016

May is officially the start of exam season! It’s also the time when panic can seriously set in if you haven’t got into the habit of regular revision yet.

Rather than freak out, here’s how to get organised … fast!

1. Spread revision topics out over several days, rather than revise one subject intensively. This will give your brain the space it needs to absorb facts!

2. Get testing! Test yourself with practice papers, then test your knowledge on a mate.

3. Turn off the music. Studies have concluded that listening to music while revising stops your brain from recalling information as fast. Gives you something to look forward to after revising…

4. Mind map, don’t highlight.. Interestingly, research has shown that highlighting text doesn’t work unless you connect ideas together. Mastering mind mapping instead will help you remember more in a short space of time. Simples…

5. Step away from your smartphone. The biggest distraction known to man and student? The humble smartphone. It’s all too easy to get Snap chatting, or Face booking without realising it.

In fact, the temptation to take a sneaky peek at your texts or Facebook timeline is a real problem, researchers say. If revising, then, be brave: switch it off!

Last minute tuition support

With exams on over the next six weeks, it can make a huge difference to draft in some professional last-minute help.

With GCSE and A Level tutors at the ready across Manchester and Cheshire, call 1-2-1 Home Tutors to help you make the grade!