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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!

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…

Exam Countdown Starts Now

Monday, March 13th, 2017

Is your child facing GCSE or A Level exams this summer or next?

As we see each year, the exam season seems to appear from nowhere – catching out students and parents every time. Time really does fly – especially when you are studying for finals.

Trouble is, once panic sets in it can be hard to revise properly. So let’s look at what you can do to make the most of your time left.

Taking exams this year?

First off, let’s get cracking with a revision timetable. This will help you organise your time better over the next few months.

  • Jot down how many subjects you have, breaking each one down into papers. (Most English Lang GCSEs have two papers, for instance)
  • Then prioritise: which subjects must you get a good grade in? Which subjects are a priority, based on your mock exam results?
  • Revise by doing, not just reading. It’s no good just reading your text book: always do something proactive while you are reading. Flash cards, mind maps – anything to test your recall.
  • Test yourself silly afterwards. Doing past papers under timed conditions is the key to doing well in the summer exams. You’ll know what you’re in for, and won’t be so floored by the time restriction.

How to plan ahead for 2018 exams

The biggest mistake is to think you have loads of time left. You don’t! Before you know it, it’ll be September. You’ll have just two terms to go before the finals!

Could you do with some 121 sessions to get ahead? Which key subjects are you struggling with now? Do you lack confidence, or you’re already worried you won’t get the grades you need?

One option is to secure a fab tutor to help you iron out these niggling issues this year so they don’t turn into huge issues next year. As parents tell us, this approach in year 10 or 12 has made a huge difference.

Don’t miss the boat

Remember, the best tutors are sought-after. And can be almost booked up come September. If your child needs help now, do call 121 head tutor Alison to discuss your child’s situation.

With tutors covering Wilmslow, Bramhall, Stockport and Manchester, including across Altrincham, Trafford and Cheshire, get in touch to see how we can help.

When should you start summer exam revision?

Monday, January 16th, 2017

Ah, great question. With Christmas just gone – and dreary winter weather afoot – the summer seems a million years away. Many students start off year 11 or 13 thinking they’ll wait until the Easter hols before getting down to some serious revision.

Big mistake! Why? Simple really. If you’ve had mock exams, chances are that you’ve only sat just one of the papers whereas subjects such Maths have three! English Language and Literature: four!

Not only is it essential to get on top of the areas you struggled with in recent exams, but also to ensure that you feel prepared for ALL your final exams in May and June. That’s a lot of work!

How to manage spring term revision

  • Draw up a list of the topics and exam papers you struggled with in recent mocks
  • Be honest about which revision techniques worked, and what didn’t
  • What are your essential GCSEs or A Levels you MUST pass? What are your minimum grades?
  • Build (around your daily timetable) a revision plan based on learning a little often
  • Test yourself regularly. There are endless tests/practice papers online. You could even test yourself by doing Paper 1, section A for English Language for example. Break down self tests into manageable chunks…
  • Arrange a private tutor to help you fill knowledge gaps, and sharpen your exam technique

Cramming style revision adds to anxiety, whereas spacing out your revision early enough can help you both manage exam stress and maximise performance.

Call our expert tuition team across the Cheshire and Manchester areas. Covering most areas from Stockport to Northwich, Wilmslow to Warrington, we’ll have a fantastic personal tutor near to you to support you to success.


Why is GCSE English such an important subject?

Tuesday, March 15th, 2016

English GCSE is a core subject – compulsory for every student. If you don’t achieve a C grade at 16, you have to stay in education until aged 18 to re-take. But why?

1. Communicate your way into the future

Being able to express yourself clearly, hold a conversation, persuade others and think critically are much-needed assets in the world beyond school.

Whether you want to start a business, work for an employer or travel the world, you’ll need excellent English skills every day.

2. Understand people

In the real world, life’s all about getting on with people, understanding how they tick, and using psychology. Studying novels and poetry teaches you all this and more…

Life isn’t black and white: it’s full of grey areas. People, too, are complex. By studying literature, you can fine-tune your empathy and understanding – while opening your eyes to different cultures and thinking.

3. Be human in a digital age

Both verbal and written communication skills are essential in the digital age. Just because using computers and tablets are the norm, you still need to be able to write well – with correct punctuation and spellings. That’s just for starters.

While a relief that you might be able to avoid inflicting your messy handwriting on anyone, you still have to communicate professionally to employers, staff, clients.

You might need to write CVs, letters, blog articles, website content, reports… All of which rely on good, old-fashioned written communication skills.

Pass GCSE English with flying colours

Exam season is hotting up in Manchester and Cheshire. If you’re in the Stockport, Bramhall or Woodford areas – including Poynton and Hazel Grove – call us.

With experienced GCSE and A level English tutors available now, your child can secure their future today…


How To Create Your Revision Timetable

Monday, January 18th, 2016

For many of you taking exams in the summer term after Easter, it’s essential to get your revision underway now.

Now’s the best time to perfect your revision timetable, and to address any grey areas you’ve always struggled with. Leaving this until after Easter will cause panic.

So instead, here are some practical revision suggestions to help you through the spring term:

1. Get mind mapping!

Create a mind-map for each subject, detailing all the key areas and skills you need to know. Now using three highlighter pens, identify the areas you are confident in with one colour, the areas you need to brush up on, and the areas you  really struggle with.

2. Get planning!

Using this information, focus on planning out how you’ll cover those weaker areas. Don’t worry about them, get proactive instead! Can you pin down a teacher to help you with that algebra question which flummoxed you in the mock?

Can you ask if there are any revision sessions planned by departments? Can you arrange a local tutor to take you through those difficult skills your teacher doesn’t have time for?

3. Get practical!

The sales are still on. Buy some new notebooks, pens, index cards and folders to get organised. Keeping tidy revision folders will stop you from panicking. In each one you could write a tick list using your mind maps to help you stay on track.

Plot out all the difficult areas into a timetable/calendar and stick to it.

Get help!

Don’t suffer in silence. Don’t just hope the problems will go away. They won’t… Use the time you have now and over the coming months to give yourself the best chance of success.

With SATs, GCSE and A level tutors covering Manchester and Cheshire from Stockport to Wilmslow, Hale to some areas of Cheshire, that help is just a phone call or email away. Get in touch with 1-2-1 Home Tutors now…

How to revise over Christmas and STILL have fun!

Monday, December 21st, 2015

For many of you out there, Christmas might feel overshadowed by the thought of tough entrance or mock exams just after you go back to school. Instead of relaxing during the festive season, you might be panicking about failing if you don’t revise hard.

Worry not! With a spot of smart planning, you can do both! Here’s some ideas for you:

  1. Compile a ‘Fun’ timetable around family events, films you want to watch and going out with friends.  Once you know there’s plenty of excitement on the agenda, pencil in several revision slots covering specific targets – and stick to them.
  2. Learn more in half the time. When you spend half an hour here, or an hour there, you’ll cover more in intensive revision sessions than trying to cram everything into one day just before you go back.
  3. Prioritise so you tackle the challenging stuff first. Write a list of the different topics or techniques you find especially tricky. Tick them off as you go along, but remember to revisit them again just to make sure you really have nailed it.
  4. Enjoy a fresh air boost. Nothing beats letting off steam than running about outside in the winter weather. Go puddle jumping, take off on your bike, go for a walk with the dog over muddy fields. A change of scene will give you energy and perspective.
  5. Get help! If your motivation has left the building, arrange a tutor to help you re-focus and get back on track. A few private tuition sessions can help you make the most of your precious time.

Whether you’re sitting one of the Manchester or Cheshire Eleven Plus tests, you’ve just one term left before your GCSEs or A Levels – or you are struggling to find inspiration – call our fab team of tutors today.

In the meantime, may we wish a Merry Christmas to all of our students, tutors and parents. See you in 2016, if not before!

Revision! What is the secret to success?

Monday, May 4th, 2015

With the general election recently, winners and losers were all over the news. For GCSE and A Level students facing exams this month, this time of year can also be monumental.

Panic often sets in at this stage when youngsters realise the enormity of the task ahead. That’s why it’s essential to give your son or daughter some helpful tips to support them through the next month.

Here are our top tips for last minute revision success!

1. Draw up a revision timetable. Break down exam papers into sections. Then focus on what you need to cover before and during the exams.

2. Apply revision notes. Practise practise practise previous questions and papers. If you practise what you’ll be tested on rather than try to remember everything by cramming, you’ll feel more confident and prepared.

3. Download previous papers and mark schemes. Visit your subject board’s website. Download a paper, time yourself, then mark your answers against the examiner’s mark scheme. If you performed badly, don’t lose heart. Use this as an opportunity to cover those weaker areas.

4. Check the range of questions. Using a subject’s exam board website, look up a range of previous papers to see what is often asked. Learn to ‘read’ exam questions. Examiners, for instance, often ask the same question using different words, or they shift the focus slightly.

5. Rest and sleep. Overdo it at the start of May and you could end up exhausted by the time the real exams are due. Instead, pace yourself. Eat properly, sleep soundly, and get some fresh air between revision sessions.

Of course, if you do have a last minute exam panic and need a private tutor to help you out, just call us. We’ve a bunch of the finest tutors in Manchester and Cheshire.

Can reading a book help you learn better?

Tuesday, April 7th, 2015

In this era of tablets and smartphones, how we read is changing. Yet, interestingly, science shows that reading good old-fashioned books is still better for you than scrolling on an electronic device.

An important consideration if your son or daughter is busy revising for their GCSEs or A level exams this summer.

The overwhelming evidence is hard to ignore. It all starts with how our brains function! Last year, a university study concluded that our brains absorb and retain more information when we read a paper book.

In fact, during the study students who read a print text scored significantly higher in reading comprehension than students who read digitally.

Science has proven that the brain itself reads letters and words in a linear way – relying on the senses to construct mental pictures of text. Whereas studies have shown that people reading ebooks tend to scan more, thus missing key information.

Did you know that your brain prefers paper books?

It’s true! In fact, the tactile nature of a book allowing us to turn pages, make notes or bend page corners helps us engage with its content.

Though e-reader pages can scroll or swipe, the brain itself doesn’t receive the same signals – calling into question whether information can be stored long term.

Plus another study concluded that if we consume too much digital reading,  it can affect our long term ability to absorb nitty-gritty detail from a paper text. Fascinating, eh? Everything in moderation – that’s what we say…

Reading recommendation

There’s no doubt that reading (not on a tablet or computer) for 30 minutes at a time can help your child absorb their revision notes.

Using highlighting and making revision notes can further help students consolidate their learning. Hope that helps…

Don’t forget, during the run up to the exams, if you need extra revision support from a private tutor here in Manchester or Cheshire, get in touch with our 1-2-1 Home Tutors’ team.