Top Tips – Get Ready for Your English GCSE and A Level Exams

english exam revision

It’s hard to believe how quickly the school year goes by, and that we’re in the summer term with the GCSE and A level English exams now about to start. The exams are where you’ll show how much you’ve learned and how much you know. So, here are a few tips to remember before and during your exams.

Before the English Exam

Study your class notes. Your teachers have carefully chosen the concepts, themes, and ideas that they centered their teaching around.  As you prepare for your exam, focus on those areas that your teachers felt were important.  Use your notes as a guide.

Prepare for different types of questions.  English exams require careful application of each concept.  Be prepared for questions related to literature or comparing the literature to other selections.  Practise each type of question before the day of your exam.  Surprises are not fun. Practising the types of questions will help you to feel more confident and more certain of your responses.

Look beyond the text

While you are studying, review and research the circumstances surrounding the writing of the works you have learned.  Consider why they were written.  What was going on politically and socially at the time the work was written? How did these influences affect the author? These perspectives go beyond the text to allow a deeper understanding of the impact the work has on our study of literature.

Getting Off To A Good Start

Take time to read the English exam paper. Read your questions very carefully.  Make sure you understand all parts of the question.  If the question asks for your view or opinions, construct it so that you carefully explain your point and support that point with evidence.  Make sure your ideas are clearly stated so someone who does not know you can understand your explanation.

Mark the questions you feel confident in responding and those which you feel will challenge you more. Some students like to start with those questions they feel confident about but don’t spend all your time on these – a half answered paper won’t lead to a pass, even if the questions you have answered are all excellent.

Take time to rest and refresh. Stretch your neck and arms at regular intervals. Focusing on an exam paper can lead to tension, so look after yourself, take water with you and keep hydrated. Wear comfortable clothes. If you are not required to wear school uniform, resist wearing anything tight fitting. Layers are good as you can take off an outer layer if it gets too hot, or put it on if the air conditioning leaves you feeling chilly.

During the Exam

Monitor your time well throughout the exam.  Note how much time you have when you begin each section.  You want to give yourself plenty of time to plan your answers, construct your answers, and read back over to edit before running out of time.

Plan your answers

You are not wasting time if you take a few minutes to plan out how you will construct your responses.  A poorly constructed response is confusing to the reader and may not adequately answer each part of the question.  If the answer is difficult to follow or understand, it will not score well.

Edit carefully

Save enough time at the end to read over your answers completely.  As writers, we sometimes overlook our own mistakes as we draft our responses. Only with careful editing can we find and correct our mistakes. Check your writing for grammatical accuracy, spelling errors, and punctuation errors.  Also ensure that your writing is smooth and easy to read.  Rushing through the writing can lead to messy handwriting that could be misread by a person scoring your exam.

You have worked so hard to prepare for this exam.  Work slowly and carefully.  Be confident in your responses.  Take comfort in knowing that you are well prepared and must now explain your knowledge carefully.

Good luck!

Take Care of Yourself Leading Up to Exams

students gathering ahead of their exams

It’s not long now, the date of the exams are near.  You are spending a tremendous time studying.  You’ve got your class notes, you have tutoring with the Community Schools, and those around you are supporting you. However, you must remember to take care of yourself as you continue this journey.

Life can be a bit like a roller coaster.  Before you get to the really fun drop when you can lift your hand in the air and enjoy the ride, there tends to be a long, hard climb.  You are in the climb!  When faced with days of laborious, rigorous studying, there are a few things you should keep in mind.

Get enough sleep

You cannot perform well in your exams if you have gone days without adequate sleep. It is understandable that you may not get as much sleep as you like to have, but try to get enough.  Your brain processes information while asleep.  While we tend to think of sleep time as time when our bodies shut down, it doesn’t.  Sleeping after studying really hard can help your brain move information into long term storage.  You will feel refreshed, your brain will be more alert and ready for new information, and the old information will be stored and ready for recall.

Eat good food

Healthy foods such as lean meats, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, help your body be at its best.  Your brain functions much better if you have healthy eating habits.  You are more alert, have more energy, and you are better able to focus on the task at hand.   High carbs and lots of sugar can make you feel sluggish and drowsy. Just as athletes need healthy foods to perform at their best, you do as well.

Move enough

When you spend this much time sitting, you need to get your blood flowing again.  Your brain needs oxygen to work well.  The best way to ensure your brain is getting plenty of oxygen is to exercise.  While you don’t have time for hour long sessions at the gym each day, you can make time for a twenty minute walk.  In fact, if you take a break every hour for just five minutes and walk around the room, your brain will benefit.

Care for your body

Take hot showers and wear clean clothes. This is not about what others think of you – it is about how you feel about yourself.  If you haven’t showered in three days, you will not feel as confident or calm as you need to feel in order to study well.

Take brain breaks in the lead up to your exams

Give your brain some much needed breaks.  Maybe you can carve out two hours to watch a film at the local cinema with friends or family.  You may need a few minutes to play a game with someone or read a good book.  Do something every day that takes your mind off of studying. Your brain needs a chance to focus on something else for a bit.

As you prepare, take care of yourself.  You need to body and brain to be in top shape and ready to perform. So, along with everyone else who is supporting for you, make sure you put in the effort to look after yourself too.

Top Tips – Get Ready for your GCSE & A Level Maths Exam

maths exam revision

As the time approaches to sit your GCSE or A Level Maths exams, there are things you can do to help you feel more confident and relaxed.

You have worked so hard studying the different elements of maths, mastering a wide range of skills and techniques, and your GCSE or A Level Maths exams is the time when you will put all of that hard work into practice and show what have learned.

Before your GCSE or A Level Maths exams

Your teachers have given you a lot of information, examples, and opportunities to practice each area for the maths exam.  Before taking the exam, spend some time reading over your class notes.  You may want to make flashcards of the most important ideas and concepts.  Get a friend or family member to help you study.

Think back to your classes. What skills did your teacher tell you were most important? Keep those skills in mind.  If your teacher told you to focus upon them, studying those skills will help you on the exam.

Familiarise yourself with the types of questions that will appear on the exam.  Look through sample maths exams and study how skills are tested.  Remember the maths exam requires you to apply the concepts and skills, not just identify.

During the GCSE or A Level Maths exams

The maths exam is not comprised of simply answering a question.  You must fully answer the question by working through all of the steps.  You want to get as many points as possible by working out each step very carefully.

Check to see if your answer is reasonable.  When you read back over the question and you answer, your solution should make sense.  For example, if your answer states that a woman is 182 metres tall, you need to check to see what you did incorrectly.

Watch for keywords.  If the question tells you to draw a graph, make sure you draw it neatly.  If the question asks you to calculate, make sure your calculations are clear and easy to follow.

For multi-step questions, break down the process into each step.  Show your work for each step as you work through the problem. Be careful to show your final answer clearly. You can have all of the steps written correctly, but will not receive any points if you don’t also include the correct final answer.

Timing

As you begin, you will see the points in brackets that indicate how much each question is worth.  The questions in the beginning may not not as difficult as later ones, and may not take as much time to solve.  Do not spend too much time on each question, but build your confidence by working through these early questions. If the point values are high, this is a good indication that the question is more difficult and may have many steps in order to solve.  Work through it carefully to earn as many points as you can.

If you set a goal to spend about a set time per point value, you will have a some time at the end to recheck your answers.  Make sure you answer as many questions as you can in the time you have.

Take a deep breath, and do your best!  Remember you have worked very hard to get to this point.  Time to show what you know!

Good luck!

Study habits for success

student revising for GCSE and A levels

Burying your head in books for hours on end isn’t always the best way to study and it can leave you feeling frustrated and demotivated – but it doesn’t have to be like that, so here are our top ten study habits for success.

  • Be organised and plan – set yourself a routine for studying. Whether it’s a few hours in the morning or afternoon on certain days or a couple of hours each day, having a timetable gets you into the habit of knuckling down.
  • Take breaks – the biggest mistake some students make is studying too hard. As contradictory as that sounds, there is such a thing as too much work and overloading on information can leave you in a muddle. Keep your mind fresh and take regular breaks even for just a few minutes.
  • Set clear goals – it doesn’t matter what the subject is, set yourself a clear goal for each session. Dividing subjects into bite sized pieces means you can be sure about covering subjects in a clear and logical fashion – increasing the chances of it staying in your memory.
  • Start with what you find hard – tackle tough topics first while your brain is still fresh and focussed. It’s tempting to start with something you find easy but you’re likely to be tired and easily distracted by the time it comes to starting a subject you’re not keen on.
  • Remove distractions – we all study in different ways, some of us like listening to music or the radio while others like complete silence. Regardless of the environment you study best in, make sure it’s distraction free – switch off phones or notifications on your laptop or computer to ensure you’re not tempted to dawdle.
  • Check your notes before you start – before you start, take the time to check your assignment or notes. Even if you’re confident that you know what you need to do, double checking doesn’t hurt and can save you time later on.
  • Review your work – doing the work isn’t quite the same as completing the task. Check your work as you go and review it at the end. Self-assessing flags up any mistakes you might not have spotted at the time and can also highlight areas you may need extra help with.
  • Use memory tools that work for you – from acronyms to making up limericks or songs, memorising information in a fun, catchy or unique way is a great way to retain facts and figures.
  • Have the right equipment – keep pens, sharpened pencils, a calculator or dictionary to hand to avoid disrupting your study session.
  • Ask for help – few people are brilliant at everything so never be afraid to ask for help. A study buddy or group can be a valuable source of support, even more so if you can share knowledge and pick up revision different techniques.

If you find a subject particularly tough and could benefit from a little extra help, contact us to see how we can help. With learning centres in Bury St Edmunds, Ipswich, Stowmarket, and Thetford we offer tuition in a range of subjects either in small groups or in one to one sessions.

As experienced teachers, we understand that everyone learns, studies and revises differently and we use a variety of methods, teaching tools and techniques to ensure that all our students have the chance to reach their full potential.

 

How to Prepare for GCSE or A-Level Maths Exams

maths exam revision

Don’t let the thought of your Maths exams turn you into a quivering wreck

Gearing up for tests is stressful no matter what the subject – particularly if you want to achieve a certain grade. Take a look at our tips on how to prepare for your GCSE or A-Level Maths exams effectively.

  • Practise – it’s true, practise really does make perfect so don’t underestimate how valuable doing some rapid-fire exercises can be. Setting yourself 20 minutes’ worth of questions every day based on the topics you’ve most recently covered in lessons, could make a big difference in your performance and confidence.
  • Past exam papers – familiarising yourself with past papers will give you a good idea of how questions are set out as well as how they’re worded, they’ll also help you identify any weaker areas early on.
  • Time yourself – try answering past papers in the allotted time. Not only will you get used to the time pressure, you’ll be able to see which areas you might need to speed up on.
  • Look at previous GCSE or A-Level Maths exam mark schemes – if you’re doing past papers, ask for the mark scheme too so you can see how points are awarded, this will give you insight into the detail examiners are looking for.

Other things to Consider

  • Challenge yourself – exams are there to test your knowledge so give yourself a challenge. Focussing too much on what you’re really good at, won’t necessarily be enough to make up for the areas you’re not so strong on. So, if you know you’re great at arithmetic but struggle with reasoning papers – it’s worth spending time cementing your understanding.
  • Understand the concepts – maths isn’t just about making things add up and the more you study it, the more you’ll need to ensure you understand the principles and concepts behind formulas or theories. Understanding them fully, means you can apply your knowledge in all sorts of different ways which can help you break down complex or multi-faceted questions.
  • Prepare – review everything you’ve covered ahead of your GCSE or A-Level Maths Exams and break them down into areas then go through each one in turn. This will highlight and help you deal with any gaps in your knowledge.

What else can you do?

  • Use the internet – don’t limit yourself to textbooks or worksheets, there are numerous websites and online revision tools that can help you. If you don’t know where to start, ask your teacher – they should be able to point you in the right direction.
  • Know your calculator – calculators come in all shapes and sizes and while it’s easy to assume you know how it works – make sure you do, particularly if yours has specialist maths functions. Knowing how to use the memory function and understanding all the ins and outs can speed up calculations and save you some precious time.
  • Check your work – whenever you’ve set yourself revision or timed exercises, always review what you’ve done. Double check answers and honestly ask yourself how you found it. Being able to address potential problems early on is a key part of good preparation.

Getting help with your Maths exams

Of course, there may be some occasions when you might need a little extra help, and that’s where The Community Schools comes in. Whether you prefer to learn in small groups or one to one sessions, we use a range of techniques and materials to ensure everyone has the opportunity to perform at their best.

How we can help

To find out more about the support we can provide in our learning centres across Suffolk, call us on 07747 037441, email us at claire@thecommunityschools.co.uk, fill out our contact form or apply online.

How to Improve Your Memory for Studying

improve your memory for studying and exam revision

Whether you’re revising for exams or just want to improve what you remember in class, there are lots of ways to boost brainpower and maximise those memory banks, so here are our top ten tips:

1)  Get enough sleep – there’s a reason why parents and teachers go on about getting a good night’s sleep before an exam. Research shows that sleep helps us cement information – which is why some people swear by listening to audio revision notes just as they’re nodding off. Not only that, good sleep means you’re refreshed, alert and ready to focus on the day ahead.

2)  Eat well – it’s all about quality rather than quantity but that doesn’t mean you can’t have the occasional treat. Ultimately, a balanced diet is important for your brain and body, but these foods are thought to be particularly beneficial:

  • Wholegrains which release sugar slowly, keeping you feeling full for longer, this includes things like brown pasta and brown rice.
  • Omega 3 fatty acids found in oily fish like salmon, mackerel and sardines. If you don’t like fish, linseed and chia seeds are good alternatives.
  • Purple or deep red fruit and veg such as blueberries, grapes, cranberries and red cabbage, which according to American research improves your short-term memory.

3)  Mnemonics – don’t be put off by the spelling (said ni-mon-ik), this simply describes things like rhymes, songs and acronyms that help you remember information. For example, some common mnemonics that many of us have come across include:

  • Richard of York gave battle in vain, to remember the colours of the rainbow (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet).
  • Never eat shredded wheat, for compass points (north, east, south west).
  • FACE for the notes that sit inside the lines on the treble clef.

Needless to say, you don’t need to use ones that already exist and making up your own might make them easier to remember in the first place.

4)  Simplify – sometimes subjects are just hard to grasp but breaking everything down into bitesize statements or concepts no matter how silly can help. For example, communism vs capitalism in very simple terms could be summed up as: free sweets for all, no sweets for anyone (unless you can pay for them). Clearly the topics are more complex but understanding the basics should inspire you to recall more.

5)  Write it out – writing something out can help fix the idea in your head. Putting what you know on to paper can also lead to spin off ideas that help you expand on the subject. It doesn’t have to be straight text – mind maps, charts and diagrams are other great ways to make something stick in your mind.

6)  Say it out loud – as well as writing it, say it. Canadian research  shows that saying something out loud secures it into our long-term memories.

7)  Condense – when you’re confident about a topic, try condensing it onto a flash card using just bullet points. Each point should jog your memory on a key idea or aspect of that subject.

8)  Teach others – explaining something to someone else who has no knowledge of the subject makes it clear whether or not you really understand it, and if you can’t answer any questions they ask, it’s probably time to hit the books again.

9)  Socialise – when you’re revising or studying, it’s important not to let it take over your life. Taking a break is a good thing – helping you relax and in turn, keeping you fresh and alert.

10) Exercise your brain and body – exercise can help improve your memory so it’s important to keep exercising even if you’re in the middle of revising for exams. But it’s not just your body you need to keep active, while your brain isn’t a muscle, it’ll benefit just as much from a mental workout. Whether you choose crosswords, Sudoku puzzles, learn a new language or take up a musical instrument, challenging yourself is the best way to keep your brain working at peak performance.

Help when you need it

Revising is one thing but if you’re struggling with a certain subject in the first place, it’s crucial to ask for help. At The Community Schools, we offer one to one and small group tuition, and support students as individuals each with a different learning style.

To find out more about how we can help email us at claire@thecommunityschools.co.uk and we’ll come back to you as soon as we can.

How parents of GCSE and A-Level aged sons can help them catch up with the girls

boys and girls

Boys are being outclassed by girls at both school and university, and the gap is widening. Read what Claire Meadows-Smith of The Community Schools has learned in helping over 150 students prepare for exam success

I’ve long been a supporter of helping girls do better in school, particularly in Maths (as this interview with the East Anglian Daily Times shows).

But there’s something I think parents of teenage boys should know… The Economist revealed a scary and surprising fact recently.

In an article titled “The weaker sex”, the writer shared statistics from a recent OECD study.

“Teenage boys are 50% more likely than girls to fail to achieve basic proficiency in any of maths, reading and science.”

What’s more, “youngsters in this group, with nothing to build on or shine at, are prone to drop out of school altogether.”

Why are boys performing worse than girls at school?

The answer is surprisingly simple.

The same OECD study revealed that “the average 15-year-old girl devotes five-and-a-half hours a week to homework, an hour more than the average boy, who spends more time playing video games and trawling the internet.”

To make matters worse, three-quarters of girls read for pleasure, compared with little more than half of boys.

Are girls simply smarter than boys?

Well, despite other gaps in effort – boys turn up late more often – the OECD found that when boys study just one hour extra per week, they reduced the gender gap by 25%.

That’s why the OECD is encouraging parents to steer teenage boys to a different way of thinking where academic achievement is respected.

The truth is, boys already have a tougher time getting the grades they deserve…

“The OECD found that boys did much better in its anonymised tests than in teacher assessments. The gap with girls in reading was a third smaller, and the gap in maths—where boys were already ahead—opened up further. In another finding that suggests a lack of even-handedness among teachers, boys are more likely than girls to be forced to repeat a year, even when they are of equal ability.”

Why is this?

Stephan Vincent-Lancrin of the OECD, published a report in 2008 remarking that when they discovered the extent of feminisation in higher education “they couldn’t believe it.”

The problem for teenage boys is that these troubles don’t end at school. women who go on to university are more likely to graduate than men – and more likely to get better grades.

As a teacher and tutor, none of what The OECD and The Economist says surprises me. Boys really are being left behind the girls.

In fact, it’s become quite the culture.

Of our 158 current students at The Community Schools, 96 are girl and only 62 are boys.

It’s the boys that need the most help, yet even outside regular school hours the girls are extending their advantage.

If you have a teenage son, perhaps you’re wondering what you can do to help?

How you as a parent can help your teenage son

Have you considered extra tutoring in Maths, English, and Science?

As the OECD study shows, even just one extra hour of study at home per week closes the gap on average by 25%. Imagine what 75 minutes of professional, dedicated study would do.

The Community Schools employ 22 experienced tutors who specialise in helping GCSE and A-level students get exam success in Maths, English, and Science.

About The Community Schools’ Private Tutoring Classes

The weekly 75 min tuition sessions at the Community Schools are very supportive of each student as an individual. There is the flexibility to teach each student in a way that best suits them and at a pace that suits.

Students are encouraged to ask as many questions as many times as it takes for them to fully grasp the new concept.

The positive and supportive atmosphere of our sessions enables all student successes to be celebrated. There is no problem about perceived ‘coolness’.

There are immediate classes available in Bury St. Edmunds and Kesgrave.

  • The teaching is structured around each student’s needs
  • No “death by worksheet” or “over-reliance” on software
  • Courses are practical, fun and effective
  • Designed to build up student’s understanding & increase their confidence
  • A focus on improving comprehension skills
  • It will be delivered in blocks of 11 sessions
  • Each session lasts 75mins

For more information, or to book a spot on a course, why not apply online now?

https://thecommunityschools.co.uk/online-application-form/ (make this link into a button)

If you’d prefer to call first, you can call Claire on 07747 037441. Why not do it now before something else gets in the way?

We also have ‘Grade Booster’ courses available during the holidays. For more information, you can email me at claire@thecommunityschools.co.uk or, call me on 07747 037441.

Psychology – The Science of Behaviour and Mind

gcse psychology, a level pyschology

At The Community Schools we have expanded our services from the Core Subjects and last year we introduced Computer Science. This year we are delighted to be able to offer small group tuition in Psychology at GCSE and A Level, and I am very pleased to welcome Louisa Rogers to the team. Louisa has been teaching Psychology for over 9 years in both state and private sector, most recently spending four years teaching A-level Psychology and Sociology at Royal Hospital School in Suffolk.

Louisa also regularly examines for Edexcel and has previously examined for AQA, so has a good insight into exam technique for students as the impending exam season approaches. Louisa has also tutored a number of students independently and really enjoys working with small groups to help share the knowledge techniques in improving an understanding of the many aspects of Psychology.

I asked Louisa to explain how small group tuition through The Community Schools will be able to help students with their studies. Here’s what she said.

Psychology is a fascinating subject incorporating a wide range of concepts. Students who take it may naturally be good at science and especially biology, or maths, but then they may struggle with the essay writing side of the course.

Psychology incorporates elements of Maths, Biology and having the ability to write a synoptic essay and analyse theory and research. During a small group tutoring session the tutor is able to focus on explaining the theory and concepts on a one to one basis which helps students grasp the essential concepts and as a result grades increase.

What is lovely about teaching psychology is that if a student enjoys the subject and can gain the core concepts they can do very well in the subject if they are willing to work hard.

If you have a child studying Psychology at GCSE or A level in the coming school year and are looking for support, then we can help. We will be offering small group tuition sessions at our Ipswich Learning Centre.

For more information please call 07747 037441 or click here apply online.

Why Attendance Matters

why attendance at school matters

Missing lessons at school can have a big impact on not just how well you do that year. Attendance can have a huge influence on the number of qualifications and the type of results you get.

It’s one of the reasons why schools and the government place such importance on attendance at school and taking part if you’re at compulsory school age. Figures for the school year 2016-2017 show a 2% increase[1] in the number of students who missed one school session due to a family holiday.

Being absent for a single morning or afternoon doesn’t sound like a big deal, but the knock-on effect might surprise you. Even missing just 5% of school can have a negative impact with more than a quarter of those pupils failing to achieve five or more A* to Cs[2]. The outcomes for students missing more than 50% of school are even poorer with just 3% going on to earn five GCSEs at grades A* to C.

Missing school doesn’t just affect your results, it can also be disruptive to peers as teachers try to recap previous topics. It’s also good to remember that the penalties for unauthorised absence can be really severe with parents being fined and in extreme cases – prosecuted.

Of course, nobody can help being ill and taking the time to recover at home is equally important. But with these figures in mind, it’s worth thinking twice before missing school if you’re fit and well but just not in the mood.

If your school attendance is low and you have missed some school and feel like you won’t be able to catch up, then put your mind at rest. The Community Schools have a number of committed tutors all with classroom experience, so they know how to get you back to where you need to be with your studies.

We design sessions that cater for you as an individual so whether you join one of our small tutor groups or choose one to one tuition, we’ll always make sure that you’re supported in a way that suits your learning style.

We have experienced teachers who are subject specialists in: English, French, German, Spanish, Psychology, Maths, Science, and Computer Science. For more information about the areas we cover and how we can help you, fill out a contact form or call us on 07747 037441.

[1] https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/692406/SFR18_2018_absence_text.pdf

[2] https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-data-highlights-true-picture-of-school-absence

How to Motivate Yourself to Study

top tips for motivation

It’s all about motivation – Top tips for getting motivated for exam revision

If you’ve got essays to hand in, or are preparing for mocks or resists, it can be hard to motivate yourself – especially at this time of year.

It’s even worse when you know you need to knuckle down, but for whatever reason, you just can’t find the motivation to get started. So, if you’re feeling a little uninspired or find yourself procrastinating – here are some tips to get you back to your books:

Think about why you’re feeling unmotivated

It’s worth taking a few minutes to consider this. Perhaps you’ve just reached your limit at that moment in time, or is your lack of motivation because you don’t understand something? Sometimes getting to grips with the cause of the problem can help you find a solution, so be honest with yourself.

Make it real and look at past papers

If you’re studying for exams or writing essays, answering past papers or researching previous titles will give you something more tangible to focus on.

Try new techniques

Studying doesn’t always have to mean burying your nose in a book and different techniques work for different people. If you’re not getting anywhere with textbooks, think about other ways you can soak up information or carry out research. Why not try listening to podcasts or watching videos – they might not be ‘conventional’, but they can help you see things from a different perspective and sometimes can give you more context around a subject.

Take a break

More often than not, sometimes you just need to take a break. Revising and studying isn’t an endurance contest and sometimes you just need to step back and think about what you’ve already done. If you’ve been stuck indoors, a quick walk and some fresh air or a catch up with friends could be all you need to reenergise yourself.

Study in chunks

To make sure you do take regular breaks, make a point of only studying in chunks of time. The average attention span is just 14 minutes[1] so revising for hours on end is unrealistic even for the most motivated of us. If a subject feels intimidating because there’s a lot to learn, break it up into bitesize pieces and tackle it in topics or themes.

Don’t doubt yourself

It’s not unusual to feel some self-doubt, especially if you’ve got mocks or resists around the corner and although it’s tempting to – don’t compare yourself to anyone else. Just because a classmate says they spend five hours a day revising, or that they feel confident – it’s not always the case. Focus on your achievements and how you feel because when it comes to your exams, it’s all that matters.

Do one thing at a time

Don’t be tempted to multitask when it comes to revising or researching and writing essays. Choose one subject at a time and concentrate on the task at hand.

Work as a team

If you’ve got friends studying the same subject, setting up a revision group can help motivate all of you. Use it as a forum where you can ask for help, exchange ideas or simply to encourage each other.

Exercise

You might not feel like you have time to do this, but exercise boosts energy and can help motivate you (as well as make you feel good). So, whether you run, walk, or enjoy doing classes, it’s a good idea to schedule in some activities.

Ask for help

If you’re really struggling to focus or don’t understand a particular subject or topic, then ask for help. Your teachers aren’t just there to tell you what to do, they’re a great resource and are subject specialists.

How we can help you

If you do feel you need extra support and help to motivate yourself with your studies, then The Community Schools can also help. We offer tuition in small groups or one-to-one and focus on an individual’s learning style enabling students to reach their full potential.  For more information about how we can help, contact us on 07747 037441 or fill out a contact form and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.

[1] https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/attention-span-average-british-person-tuned-in-concentration-mobile-phone-a8131156.html

Why Breakfast Is The Most Important Meal Of The Day

how breakfast helps you at school

We’re all told about how important breakfast is and most of us accept it without asking why, but a Cardiff University study has found that a healthy start to the day can actually help you perform better in tests[i].

The study involved 5,000 children across 100 schools with researchers discovering that eating breakfast could double a student’s chance of getting above average results compared to a child going to school on an empty stomach.

Anecdotally, teachers also agree that eating first thing can help improve pupils’ attention and concentration and children who don’t eat in the morning usually end up flagging by mid-morning (with some even falling asleep).

But it’s not just about eating, the Cardiff University team also found that what the children ate was just as important and the boost in results only applied to children who ate healthily. So, while eating sweets or bags of crisps might fill you up temporarily, researchers found that these types of foods did nothing to improve academic performance – but what counts as a ‘healthy’ breakfast?

Slow release foods

Slow release foods keep us feeling fuller for longer which is a good thing because it means we’re less likely to reach for that chocolate biscuit or packet of crisps or be distracted by our rumbling tummies.

A good breakfast (like most meals) should be low in added salt, sugar and fat. It’s also a good idea to choose foods that are as unprocessed as possible so they’re easily digested. Some recommended breakfast foods include:

  • Low fat, salt and sugar cereals like shredded wheat, or wholewheat biscuits
  • Porridge oats with stewed, cooked or fresh fruit for sweetness
  • Beans on toast
  • Scrambled eggs with or without wholemeal toast
  • Low fat yoghurt with fruit and nuts

A good start to the day

Breakfast doesn’t just give you fuel to kick-start your morning, it offers you a chance to prepare yourself for the day – giving you an opportunity to sit down with your family before school begins.

If you’re not used to eating first thing, try making your own smoothie and blitz a banana with berries, yoghurt and a little fresh fruit juice – or, experiment with whatever fruit you have at home to find a combination you like. You can even make your smoothie to go if you’re in a rush or don’t feel like eating when you first wake up. Alternatively, pack yourself a piece of fruit with yoghurt and oats for a healthy, low fat, low sugar breakfast.

For more information about how to eat a healthy and balanced diet, head to the NHS eatwell guide which offers advice about the type of foods we should be eating. Remember – it’s not about banning ‘bad’ food like chocolate, sweets and fizzy drink, but about making informed choices and enjoying all types of food in moderation.

For more information please call 07747 037441 or click here apply online.

[i] Littlecott, H., Moore, G., Moore, L., Lyons, R., & Murphy, S. (2016). Association between breakfast consumption and educational outcomes in 9–11-year-old children. Public Health Nutrition, 19(9), 1575-1582. doi:10.1017/S1368980015002669

Your GCSE options

Things to consider when choosing your GCSEs

Choosing your GCSE options is an exciting time – after all, it’s probably the first time you actively get to choose what you study. They’re also a big milestone in your education as the results you get will be officially recognised by potential employers, sixth form colleges and even universities.

With all that in mind, they can feel like overwhelming decisions, but don’t let that bewilder you – here’s what you should keep in mind.

GCSEs do matter

Think of your GCSEs as dominos – the choices you make and the results you get can impact what happens further along the line and affect the options open to you later on.

For example, if you want to eventually study biology at university, it’s more than likely that you’d be expected to have achieved a good grade at A-level and to study biology at A-level, you’d need to have earned a good pass at GCSE.

So, if you’re already planning on going to uni and study a certain subject, it’s worth doing a little research to see whether or not there are particular subjects that will help you reach that goal.

Think about what you enjoy

You’ll be expected to take GCSEs in English, maths and science, after that, your school should offer you a choice in subjects within these areas:

  • The arts (such as music, drama or art)
  • Design and technology
  • Humanities (such as history or geography)
  • Modern foreign languages

Some schools provide more choice and offer subjects like sociology, media studies, law and psychology.

Ask for help making decisions

If you’re not sure about what GCSE options to choose, ask your teachers, parents or carers for advice.  Teachers are a valuable source of information and will be able to objectively tell you where your strengths and weaknesses lie.

Your school may also organise assemblies or offer careers advice and if they do, it’s worth taking the opportunity to find out more about different professions and the path you may need to follow.

Making choices that are right for you

Ultimately, it’s up to you to choose the subjects that you’ll find the most useful and rewarding – here are some tips on your GCSE Options:

  • Choose subjects you enjoy – you’ll be studying them for the next two years so focus on what you like, are good at, and find rewarding.
  • If you have a career path in mind, spend time working out what subjects you need to fulfil your ambition.
  • If you haven’t settled on a career choice, keep your options open and broad and opt for a mix of subjects.
  • Don’t choose subjects based on what your friends do, as harsh as it sounds, friendships don’t always last. Similarly, don’t base your choice on a favourite teacher as they may leave or not teach your class.
  • Think about workload and assessment, having a coursework-based subject like art, drama or music may be a welcome relief if the rest of your subjects focus on essays or final exams.

How The Community Schools can help

Lots of students find GCSEs intense so don’t worry about being the only one. If you feel you need a little extra help, then that’s where we can step in.

At The Community Schools, we offer tuition in core subjects English, Maths and science, as well as in Spanish, French, German, Psychology and Computer Science.

Our teaching takes place online, in small tutor groups or one-to-one sessions and because we’re not restricted to particular textbooks or programmes, we tailor classes to suit individual learning styles.

To find out how we can help you, call us on 07747 037441, fill out a contact form, or apply online