Self teaching GCSEs! Watch

The Nightingale
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Hi there!

I've heard people talking about simply getting hold of the syllabus for certain GCSEs, learning it and sitting the examination.

I'm currently a distance learning student, which is great, however, each GCSE costs about 300 quid to take on! Obviously you get a study pack, and tutors you can contact... but not much else!

I want to do Chemisty and Physics, however, I don't want my parents to have to fork out 600 pounds for me to do so.

How does the whole 'GCSE self- teaching from the syllabus' thing work? Do you just use text books? Is it still possible to gain A*s?

Help appreciated... muchly!
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PeeWeeDan
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(Original post by The Nightingale)
Hi there!

I've heard people talking about simply getting hold of the syllabus for certain GCSEs, learning it and sitting the examination.

I'm currently a distance learning student, which is great, however, each GCSE costs about 300 quid to take on! Obviously you get a study pack, and tutors you can contact... but not much else!

I want to do Chemisty and Physics, however, I don't want my parents to have to fork out 600 pounds for me to do so.

How does the whole 'GCSE self- teaching from the syllabus' thing work? Do you just use text books? Is it still possible to gain A*s?

Help appreciated... muchly!
I taught myself A-Level maths with recycled stuff from my brother and i'm more than competant to get an A, and GCSE is easy... As long as you can get into the exam hall, you can get an A*. i Advise CGP guides for Physics and Chemistry BTW.
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kellywood_5
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Print off a copy of the specification from the exam board's website so you'll know exactly what you need to learn for the exams. You might want to print off the latest examiners' report as well for tips on how to get top marks, any traps to avoid and what not to do. It would be best to a textbook that's specific to your exam board and specification if possible because then you'll know that everything in it is relevant, but otherwise just get a general one and use the specification to weed out any bits you don't need to know. Have a look in WH Smith's and Waterstones at their collections. You can also order some, like CGP, directly from their website or use Amazon. Depending on how you prefer to study, you might want to get a revision guide closer to the exams as well, and you can order past papers and mark schemes from the exam board. Unless of course you use AQA, who let you print them off their website for free. I used a distance learning course for GCSE Spanish, but I didn't bother with the tutor in the end because he was useless and slow, so all I actually used were the materials provided. I really wish I'd just entirely taught myself and saved myself £250, but live and learn and all that. Anyway, I got an A*, so it is possible. Good luck
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The Nightingale
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Thanks for all the advice... much appreciated!

I'm currently doing six of my GCSEs through a distance learning course... but I hardly ever use the tutors, other than the Maths one, because I'm terrible at Maths! BTW, how do you know which textbook applies to the course your doing, is it on the exam board website? And is the textbook the only thing you'll need to pass with flying colours?

What board do you think I shuold select? I'm currently on AQA with the others? How do I deal with the coursework aspect, is there an option to just do a longer paper in Chemistry and Physics, or is coursework a MUST? Finally, will I be able to sit all my exams in the same place, even if I'm on different boards for Chemistry and Physics?

Many thanks
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Vesta
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Print off copies of the syllabuses (syllabi?) from the examination board websites. Then order/buy a couple of text books, and maybe 1 or 2 revision guides per subject (I suggest CGP and Letts). These aren't expensive, maybe £5-6 each. Try to order/buy exam practise papers - they're helpful (or, alternatively, you can PM me and I can arrange to send you a website that has practise papers on them - this will save you a few quid).
I think you're pretty much set, you just need to make sure you've booked to take the exam at an exam centre and you get your statement of entry etc. And of course, if you have any problems that you'd normally ask a teacher, you can always post in the Academic Help section of TSR, I'm sure many people would be more than willing to help (myself included).


(Original post by The Nightingale)
BTW, how do you know which textbook applies to the course your doing, is it on the exam board website? And is the textbook the only thing you'll need to pass with flying colours?
I wouldn't rely on just one textbook/revision guide - sometimes two different explanations help you understand it better. CGP and Letts revision guides are compatible with AQA, OCR and Edexcel. Or you can try subject-specific guides, but they're not as accessible and easy to find.

What board do you think I shuold select? I'm currently on AQA with the others?
I personally suggest you do OCR, but that's because I like OCR :love:

How do I deal with the coursework aspect, is there an option to just do a longer paper in Chemistry and Physics, or is coursework a MUST?
Er... I'm not so sure so don't count on this, but I think coursework is a must. Contact the exam centre you're doing your current exams with, and ask them their policy on coursework and how they handle it. That's all I can think of!

But hey - Chemistry and Physics are relatively straightforward to teach yourself. Good luck
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kellywood_5
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(Original post by The Nightingale)
BTW, how do you know which textbook applies to the course your doing, is it on the exam board website? And is the textbook the only thing you'll need to pass with flying colours?

What board do you think I shuold select? I'm currently on AQA with the others? How do I deal with the coursework aspect, is there an option to just do a longer paper in Chemistry and Physics, or is coursework a MUST? Finally, will I be able to sit all my exams in the same place, even if I'm on different boards for Chemistry and Physics?
Sometimes you can get textbooks that actually say 'higher tier chemistry specification A' or whatever on them, so you know exactly what they're designed for. If you can't find any like that, just get a general one because there's probably not that much difference between exam boards anyway. Apart from textbooks, you could use revision guides at the end of the course if you find them helpful and I'd say you'd also have to use exam papers and mark schemes for practice and exam technique. The specification could perhaps be a sort of checklist to make sure you'd covered everything, and the examiners' report could be used to help you avoid common mistakes and pick up marks. It's entirely up to you which exam board you go with, and as I said, there's probably not much difference anyway. Personally I'd stick with AQA because they have the best website with the most free resources. I'd imagine coursework is a must because of the need to demonstrate practical skills, but I'm not 100% sure. If you have a look at the specification, it will probably tell you. You sit all your exams at the same centre, no matter what exam boards you use.
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The Nightingale
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Thanks everyone... for the advice etc.

(Original post by kellywood_5)
Sometimes you can get textbooks that actually say 'higher tier chemistry specification A' or whatever on them, so you know exactly what they're designed for. If you can't find any like that, just get a general one because there's probably not that much difference between exam boards anyway. Apart from textbooks, you could use revision guides at the end of the course if you find them helpful and I'd say you'd also have to use exam papers and mark schemes for practice and exam technique. The specification could perhaps be a sort of checklist to make sure you'd covered everything, and the examiners' report could be used to help you avoid common mistakes and pick up marks. It's entirely up to you which exam board you go with, and as I said, there's probably not much difference anyway. Personally I'd stick with AQA because they have the best website with the most free resources. I'd imagine coursework is a must because of the need to demonstrate practical skills, but I'm not 100% sure. If you have a look at the specification, it will probably tell you. You sit all your exams at the same centre, no matter what exam boards you use.
Now I know this sounds like a really stupid question, but which specification is it? There are quite a few on the website, and obviously I want to cover the spec that is the full single award GCSE for chemistry and physics, (as opposed to a half-course or a course where you have to do module exams)! Basically I just want to cover the course, do the coursework and sit the exam... so I just need to know which spec I must choose for that!

I know people have recommended the CGP books- I was thinking of getting CGP revision guide and a Letts one. As long as they were printed in 2006, ( when the Scince spec changed), will they contain suitable content for the 2008 examinations?

Many thanks once again!
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Vesta
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(Original post by The Nightingale)
I know people have recommended the CGP books- I was thinking of getting CGP revision guide and a Letts one. As long as they were printed in 2006, ( when the Scince spec changed), will they contain suitable content for the 2008 examinations?
Yes, they should specify for which exams the books are suitable for.
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kellywood_5
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(Original post by The Nightingale)
Now I know this sounds like a really stupid question, but which specification is it? There are quite a few on the website, and obviously I want to cover the spec that is the full single award GCSE for chemistry and physics, (as opposed to a half-course or a course where you have to do module exams)! Basically I just want to cover the course, do the coursework and sit the exam... so I just need to know which spec I must choose for that!

I know people have recommended the CGP books- I was thinking of getting CGP revision guide and a Letts one. As long as they were printed in 2006, ( when the Scince spec changed), will they contain suitable content for the 2008 examinations?
It will usually say either in the title or somewhere in the spec itself. You want GCSE full course linear chemistry/physics. It will say if it's a short course or modular, and single/double/triple awards only apply to science as one subject rather than the separate sciences. If the books were printed the year the spec changed, they should be fine because they wouldn't include information that was no longer necessary.
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Chezua
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there's Open University if you like. note that my tutor there was the worst though...

sorry ouch you're right my mum paid 400 quid just for one course. i've always thought i'd do so much better in french if i've self-taught it.
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