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Posts Tagged ‘Exam results’

How long should I spend revising?

Wednesday, April 17th, 2013

It’s only a few weeks until GCSE and A Level exams, with many starting in mid May and running until mid June. It’s when our students start to turn their minds to revision. The most frequent question we get from students is when they should start revising. They also want to know how and what they should revise. So we’ve come up with some top tips to help you through the next few weeks.

  • Most schools and colleges don’t finish teaching the syllabus (that’s everything you need to know to pass the exam) until close to exam dates. That can make revision tricky if you want to be very thorough. Sometimes there simply isn’t enough teaching time to cover all the topics in the syllabus. One way you can tackle this is to do some self-learning (or work with the support of a tutor) to get ahead and make sure you know every topic in the syllabus. You may be able to get a copy of the syllabus from school but you can usually get them from a specific exam board (always make sure you are learning the correct syllabus).
  • Self led learning can be tricky for younger students or those who are already struggling and this is where one to one tuition really comes in handy. A tutor can work through the syllabus efficiently to find gaps in knowledge and support your learning in school. You can also try working with a friend, asking for extra help in school or attending revision sessions.
  • One of the best ways to revise is to do lots of past papers. Don’t be put off if you find them hard. It’s a good way to test your knowledge and identify any gaps. It also gives you an idea of the kind of topics (and the types of questions) that are likely to come up in your exams.  It’s great to try and revise everything but without past question papers you might miss key points or how to apply what you have revised in an exam environment. It’s best to decide what’s ‘important’ to revise based on what is likely to be asked of you, rather than what you think it’s best to learn.
  • There is no right amount of time to revise for. Some lucky students appear to be able to quickly read notes they have made and pass an exam with a great grade. The reality is usually that they have been working slowly and steadily throughout the year. It’s best to spend half an hour a day (no more) planning your revision and then spend the rest of your time on a structured revision plan.

We have one to one tutors available across Manchester and Cheshire right now covering all GCSE and A Level topics and syllabuses. Call us today for more information.


GCSE Results Day

Thursday, August 23rd, 2012

You’ve worked very hard and probably had a very nervous last few days but the wait is finally over, it’s  GCSE Results Day.

We get lots of calls on results day and in the weeks after, often from students who haven’t got the grades they wanted or expected and don’t quite know what to do next.

We’ve come up with a few hints and tips for GCSE Results Day and coping with less than hoped for grades.

  1. Keep calm.  Unless you have failed every subject across the board then there is no need for panic. Focus on the results that are important – so those you wanted to further study at A Level and Maths and English. If your results might affect your place at a college or sixth form then it’s a good idea to find an advisor or teacher on results day and talk through your options. Many colleges won’t automatically discount you if you have achieved slightly less than expected at GCSE.
  2. Get practical. Have you struggled all year with a subject and not got the grade you expected? Are you still planning to study it at A Level? Sometimes a weak grade can be a bit of a wake up call to seriously explore your options.  That subject might not be right for you but you could fly in another area.
  3. Deal with the basics. Most colleges and universities will want you to have at least a C in GCSE Maths and English so if your grades have fallen below that level then you need to talk to someone about resits or appeals.

At 121 Home Tutors we often start working with A Level students as they begin college or sixth form, particularly if they have struggled with their GCSEs. If you’d like more information on private tutoring in Manchester and Cheshire (Heaton Mersey, Trafford, Wilmslow) then contact us today.  You can also call the exam results helpline on – 0808 100 8000

Exams are over (for now!)

Thursday, July 14th, 2011

The exam season is finally over and it’s time for teens to take a well-earned rest. But then they have six (or more) long weeks stretching ahead of them and hours and hours of time to while away. The summer holidays are a great opportunity to catch up and/or work on areas where students might have struggled this academic year.

This is the perfect time for Year 9 students who are going into their GCSE years to work on subjects they’ve struggled with. If your child is in Year 9 and will start working towards their iGCSE (often in independent schools and perceived as harder than a traditional GCSE)  then summer tutoring can help them get a headstart.

And if your child is in Year 10 or 12 then they’ll be on their way to final GCSE and A Level exams in the next year – this is the summer that could make all the difference to how they enter one of the most important years of their life.  Summer catch ups and study aren’t just for those who’ve struggled a bit, it’s a chance for every student to get ahead or just make sure their brain doesn’t turn to mush in the space of six weeks.

It might seem daft to say that students can fall behind in such a short space of time – but in a month and a half (even longer for independent and boarding schools) the skills they’ve built up during the year can quickly disappear. It means they often start the year struggling to find their feet.  When we talk to parents and students we find the areas they most struggle with at the start of the year (after the long summer break) are modern languages (so French, Spanish etc), Maths and Science. It’s usually because these are the trickiest subjects for most students and all of these subjects combine using complex skills with learning a lot of knowledge. So for example they have to develop skills such as writing up experiments or solving equations alongside taking in knowledge of names of compounds or lists of vocabulary and noun formations. So how can we help them stay on top without destroying all the fun of the summer holidays?

The secret is to find fun ways of engaging the brain without making it feel like learning.

  • If your child is learning a language, maybe French or Spanish, then visit the country for a trip or holiday. Encourage them to use the language but also know that just being around it will utlise their skills (such as reading and comprehension).
  • Visit museums and exhibitions – places like MOSI (The Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester) aren’t just for young children. There’s stuff for children of all ages (and even better it will entertain them for a whole day).
  • Keep them reading – encourage them to read their favourite books, invest in some new reading material and if they are willing get them to cast an eye over their textbooks.
  • Use the resources you have for educational purposes – yes they are probably already permanently glued to the television or internet, so encourage them to find programmes relevant to their study (Braniac for Science for example).
  • Think about using a private tutor – tutors don’t have to teach in a classroom style and an hour or two a week could be just what your child needs to go into the next year brimming with confidence.

If you live in Greater Manchester Cheshire and you’d like to find out more about how summer holiday tutoring can help your child –in tricky subjects like Maths, Science and modern languages –get in touch with 121 Home Tutors.

How to help your child prepare for their first exam

Friday, October 22nd, 2010

If your child is now in Year 10, November may be when they will take their first ever ‘real’ exam. Some GCSE modules have exams which fall in this month and the results from these tests will be part of the eventual grade that your child achieves.

So if your child has never taken an exam how can you help them prepare?

  • Get the balance right. You need to help your child revise the subjects enough that they do well in the exam without getting them so stressed about it that it affects their physical or emotional well being.
  • Have a plan. Sit with your child and come up with a revision plan, it’s a good idea to figure out how they best learn. Your child’s teacher will have told them what they need to learn so it’s a matter of breaking it down into manageable chunks. Check with the school what exams you child will be taking and when.
  • Take breaks. There is a point where we all switch off from learning or revision and our brain stops taking in information, learn to recognise when that is for your child and build in frequent breaks for food, drink or just relaxation.
  • Flash cards. One idea that works for some children is to create notes or flash cards as they revise each chapter or topic, in this way they can easily see the main points and not get overloaded with information. This is also a good way to review the major topics as the exam gets nearer.
  • Remember to stop. Don’t push your child to revise until minutes before the exam. It’s especially important the night before that they get a good night’s sleep and they can’t do this if their brain is in overdrive.  It’s worth keeping in mind that it’s not the end of the world if they don’t pass, there are always resits.
  • Past papers. It will really help both you and your child if you can see what kind of questions have been asked in the past. Ask your child’s teacher if these are available.
  • Don’t avoid the hard bits. If it looks like your child has a problem in a particular area then don’t avoid it. Maybe try a different technique such as drawing out the problem or talking it through. One way to tackle tricky areas is to have one on one tutoring, where they can focus on a particular area and gain confidence.
  • Eat well. Children who eat a good breakfast perform better at school. During revision periods and on the day of the exam keep them going with a nutritious breakfast such as cereal and make sure they are getting all their essentials vitamins and minerals.

If you think your child needs some one to one help preparing for exams then we can help. If you’re based in the Manchester, Stockport, Wilmslow and Cheshire areas and would like to discuss exam tuition options, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us at 121 Home Tutors.

GCSE results

Sunday, August 22nd, 2010

The long wait is over, and GCSE results  (and iGCSE results) are nearly out – but what should you do if GCSE grades aren’t as good as you’d hoped? Here are some tips…

Don’t panic!
Slightly disappointing results at GCSE aren’t the end of the world, especially if they are in subjects other than English, Maths or in the subjects not being taken to A Level. However, not doing as well as expected can be demoralising (especially if friends got straight A* grades!) and can be an indicator of an underlying problem that might cause greater difficulties at A Level.

As such, disappointments at GCSE and poor grades can be good indicators of problems that need fixing in the long term. Dropping a couple of grades in a subject that isn’t going to be continued at A Level is probably nothing much to worry about – unless that subject happens to be English or Maths.

Take action on Maths and English
The most immediate problems to face are if GCSE results in Maths or English (not English Literature) are poor. Colleges and Universities usually require at least ‘C’ in both subjects at GCSE for admission. Likewise, most employers want to see at least two Cs for anything except manual work. In practice, as a result of the grade inflation of the past few years, the cut off ‘respectable’ grade is a B – if a grade B  at GCSE in one of these subjects was narrowly missed you might seriously consider an appeal or a resit.

If either Maths or English have been ‘failed’ (strictly speaking, even an E or F is a ‘pass’ at GCSE, though nobody pretends that a grade below C is worth much, especially in English) they should be resat. School (and/or new sixth form college) will advise on this.

Check A Level eligibility
Dropping GCSE grades can have an effect on the subjects that can be taken to A Level (see here for tips on which A levels to choose). Many state schools and FE colleges ask for at least a C grade at GCSE in a particular subject before acceptance on to the A Level course (often higher for more traditional A Levels such as Maths and English). Grammar and independent schools will often require at least an A grade at GCSE before acceptance on to courses. However, it varies dramatically by school and by year.

If the grade has fallen below the notional standard for a particular subject but you/your child still wants to take it at A Level, the whole thing will have to be discussed with the relevant subject teachers. This might be easier if staying in the same school, as there will be existing relationships in place with staff who will know your personality and capabilities well – on the other hand, that could also work against you!

One way or another, an unexpected dip at GCSE indicates that not all is as it should be, and going into A Level you/your child could benefit from extra help. It could be that subject understanding wasn’t as it should be – or that the required effort and level of revision wasn’t put in but at 121 Home Tutors we have tutors that are used to working with A level students and with students who haven’t performed as well as they might – get in touch with us today (email or call 01625 531 360) for a no-obligation chat about how we can help with studies if you live in the Manchester, Stockport, Wilmslow, Macclesfield, Cheshire and surrounding areas.

*** Exam Results Helpline – 0808 100 8000 ***

Disappointing A level results at AS?

Thursday, August 19th, 2010

In our earlier post we took a quick look at the best course of action to take if your A level results and A2 grades weren’t as expected.

But what about if you’re in the same situation a year earlier – you’ve just completed Year 12 and your AS results are not as expected or not quite as good as you’d like? Of course, your situation isn’t quite as critical as those not getting the A2 grades needed, because you don’t have to deal with the potential upheaval of a missed University place. Also, if you’ve only underperformed in an AS that you’re not planning to take through to A2 (and which, therefore, won’t be the basis of a university application) you don’t have too much to worry about.

However, you could still have some problems that you need to deal with, especially if you’re planning to go to university.

First, a generally poor performance at AS level can be a sign that you’ve picked courses that don’t really suit you. If you think that’s the case, you could be better off in the long run starting again with new AS level courses in different subjects. Your school or college will be able to offer advice on this: it’ll take another year, but you’ll be a more mature and experienced student and should stand a greater chance of success.

If you decide to go forward with the grades you’ve got, you won’t be able to retake any of the modules you’ve messed up until after you’ve put in your UCAS application. Universities vary in how much notice they take of AS level results – many admissions tutors are aware that students often go through a process of rapid intellectual and emotional maturity during Year 13, and are inclined to give more weight to predicted grades than to AS results.

All the same, a set of disappointing results can cause application problems. They can also knock your confidence and the confidence that your teachers have in you – which could be a problem when it comes to securing good predicted grades.

So what’s the best course of action to take?

  • If possible, talk to your teachers about how and where things went wrong. They may recommend trying the appeals process. At any rate, it’s important to show them that you recognise you have underperformed and you want to take action to improve.
  • When the new term starts, really make sure you hit the ground running. As well as lots of work, you’re going to be thinking about university applications. Your school or college will give you advice on how to present yourself in the best light on your application – and it’s all the more important that you listen carefully and give the application process your best shot if you’re going into it with lower AS grades than you’d wish.
  • With disappointing AS level grades, a good UCAS Personal Statement could be more important than ever. Remember that if you get stuck writing your Statement, 121 Home Tutors can help.

If you’d like to talk  about A level results, AS results and AS grades try the Exam Results Helpline on 0808 100 8000. Alternatively, if you think you might need a little extra help with your AS or A2 level studies in general, 121 Home Tutors has a wide selection of tutors experienced in coaching A Level students at both AS and A2. So if you live in the Manchester, Stockport, Macclesfield, Wilmslow & Cheshire areas then  get in touch with us today for a no obligation chat about how our tutors can help boost your A Level chances!

A-level results day – what if you don’t get the grades?

Wednesday, August 18th, 2010

A Level results are out, and all over the country students will be celebrating – or in a state of high anxiety. If you’ve missed out on the A2 grades you needed to get into your first choice of university you could be facing problems, as this is set to be one of the most competitive years for clearing ever.

If you’ve just finished Y12 and your AS grades were a bit ropey, you’re not under quite the same pressure as those who have been unlucky at A2 – but you still potentially have issues to deal with because you’ll be going into the university application process without the best possible grades.

But never fear – there are things you can do to rescue what might look like a dire situation! In this post we’re going to look at the most pressing problem of all – underperformance at A2. In a special post on Thursday, we’ll offer some advice for AS students.

A- level (A2) grades not as hoped
A level results are due out. If you’ve missed your A level grades for your first choice university, it can seem like the end of the world. Rather than mope around, here’s the course of action you need to take:

  1. Don’t panic! You’ve nothing to lose from being level-headed, and potentially lots to gain.
  2. Your first port of call should be a relevant person school or college – probably your Head of Sixth Form or your personal tutor. You’ll be on their priority list, and this is where relationships are going to matter: good schools and colleges will fight tooth and nail to secure places for ‘good citizens’ who are known to be friendly, committed and talented, but who have missed out by just a few marks. You’ll still get help if you’ve been a slacker or a source of trouble, but your school will find it harder to unreservedly recommend you to sceptical admissions tutors.
  3. So, even if you’ve missed your A level grades, there’s a chance that you – with the assistance of your school or college – will be able to talk your way on to your chosen course. This is much harder than it used to be, but it does still happen.
  4. If you miss both your first choice and your insurance offer, and still really want to go to university then you need to enter the university clearing system. Again, your school or college will advise you here – or there’s a useful article in The Guardian. Many students get good places through university clearing, and end up in universities that they love. But think carefully: are you so desperate to get a university place that you’re happy to head off without even visiting in advance or researching how useful the course is? Studying for a degree can be an expensive business and did you know there are other options available? Check out our post on options available to A level students – gap years, going abroad to university, doing a part-time degree or even not going to university!
  5. Think seriously about retaking and going for entry next year. You can have another go in January at the modules you messed up, and hopefully the shock of failure this time will have focussed your mind! If you only missed your grades by a few marks you could also consider going through the appeals process. If you decide to retake, you’ll have to go through UCAS again, but it should at least be a bit more familiar this time.

If you do go down the resit route, it’s a good idea to spend some time reflecting on why you didn’t do as well as you’d hoped. Did you work hard enough, spending a decent amount of time preparing for each important topic within each subject? Was there a particular skill or area of knowledge where you really fell short?

You might feel that it’s time to seriously consider getting some extra help. If you would like to talk to someone try the Exam Results Helpline on 0808 100 8000. Also, 121 Home Tutors has a team of first class A level tutors and AS and A2 tutors and can offer help in any major subject if you live in Manchester, Stockport or Macclesfield, Wilmslow, Cheshire areas. Contact us today (by email or call 01625 531 360) for a no-obligation discussion!