GCSE Computer Science exams and revision: AQA explains what you need to do


Our series on exam advice continues with tips from AQA on GCSE Computer Science

To help you make the most of your remaining revision time, we’ve worked with exam board AQA to create a series of exam advice articles.

In each of these features, you’ll find advice and easy-to-follow tips written by one of AQA’s subject matter experts.

Read on to get the inside track on GCSE Computer Science, direct from the people who make the exams.

AQA logo byline
AQA logo byline

DO plan your revision

  • Prioritise your time
  • Begin with a brain splurge. Get everything you can remember about a topic on paper. This will help you to understand what you know well - and, more importantly, where there are gaps in your knowledge
  • Think about how you present your revision. Some people find that images and mind maps help them to remember and will show the necessary links between topics
  • Revise smaller chunks of content more frequently in the run-up to the exam. For more effective revision, do this throughout the course
  • Look for links between different areas of the specification. The quality of your revision will improve if you interweave different but related topics into your revision

DO lots of practice. Then do some more. And then practise some more

  • Practise the easy things to reduce the risk of making silly mistakes or not being able to make the necessary connections between different areas of the specification content
  • Past papers or groups of questions on a topic you know you need to work on are a great help. Ask your teacher for the AQA mark scheme and use this to mark your work to improve your exam technique
  • Go back over papers you’ve already done and have another go. You’ll see yourself improving and build your confidence
  • Practise your mental arithmetic. Remember that you can’t use a calculator in either exam.
  • Programming will help to develop your logical, computational and analytical thinking skills. These are fundamental to computer science and will help across a range of subjects

DO monitor your revision as you’re doing it

  • Are you being systematic in studying all of the material for the exam?
  • Are you taking advantage of all of the learning support available to you?
  • Lacking motivation? Try to remember why you’re studying this subject - be positive
  • Getting bogged down? Take a break and re-focus

DO make sure you read the question carefully, identifying the correct command word

  • A common error students make is writing a description when they’ve been asked for an explanation
  • Identify key words and parts of the question instruction, especially the command words
  • Identifying key words and command words will help you focus on answering the question
  • Don’t write unqualified responses such as quicker/faster/easier - these won’t gain marks
  • Where the question asks for two answers, give two, not one or three

DO make sure that, when answering a question which requires an algorithm to be created or using pseudo-code or a flowchart, the instructions you give are clear and unambiguous

  • Use the space provided in the exam paper to plan algorithms
  • Use indentations to make it easier to read and follow the structure of the algorithms
  • Become familiar with the AQA pseudo-code
  • Tick off each step in the question as you complete it so you don’t miss anything

DO use appropriate vocabulary to show that you understand key computer science ideas and techniques

  • Proper application of knowledge is important to show understanding
  • Make sure you familiarise yourself with the vocabulary of computer science

DO show your working in calculations

  • Well-structured answers with the odd word of explanation may help you answer questions
  • It’ll make it easier for you to follow your working
  • Showing your working demonstrates understanding of the task and shows your thought process
  • Your answer to the question could still earn you marks, even if the final answer is wrong

DO keep going right to the end of a paper

  • You’ll be able to pick up marks for partly answering questions even if you don’t get to the end
  • Attempt to do something on every question – both in the exam and when you’re revising

DO use exam wrappers to evaluate your exam preparation

  • What worked well? Use it again
  • What didn’t work so well? Avoid it or change it for next time

DON’T panic

  • You’ll know more than you think you do, and everyone taking the exam is in the same boat
  • In GCSE Computer Science, 40 per cent of the marks are for applying knowledge in unfamiliar contexts. You’ll be asked questions in contexts that you haven’t studied in class - but don’t let this put you off. Think how the computer science you’ve studied relates to the question being asked

DON’T start writing straight away

  • Think about what the question is asking you and plan your answer so that you give a coherent, sequenced line of reasoning that answers the question
  • Don’t simply repeat what the question is asking

DON’T leave gaps

  • If you don’t think you know an answer, work out what the question is asking and then make an intelligent guess
  • Remember the first part of the next question may be easier than the question you’re answering. If you get stuck, don’t give up - try the next question

DON’T just guess an answer on multiple choice questions or jump to the first answer that may be right

  • Take a little time to look at the options, scribble down some working if it helps and come to a decision on the right answer
  • Remember that often the ‘wrong’ options are chosen because they’re common mistakes

More GCSE Computer Science help on TSR

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Good luck from AQA

AQA believes everyone has the potential to achieve, and we make sure our qualifications give all students the opportunity to show what they can do and progress to the next stage of their lives.

Our subject experts worked with The Student Room so we can reach as many students as possible with advice on how to approach your revision and exams. We wish you well in the weeks ahead, and don’t forget to look after yourselves too: eat well, sleep well and tell someone how you’re feeling if there are days when things don’t go so well or you don’t feel so good.

 Good luck!