The Student Room Group

Former Y11 | Giving GCSE advice!

Hello there. I'm bored. So bored that I'm gradually losing my sanity in the last two days until I start sixth form. Therefore I've decided I might as well do something productive with my time, and hope I don't descend any further than I already have.
I've listed my subjects and grades, with exact scores where I did particularly well. For all other subjects, I'm nice and comfortably within the grade boundary.
I'll also list the specific topics I was examined on - bear in mind that as a COVID cohort student, English and History each dropped a topic so I only have three, whereas you'll have four.

Grades:
AQA Combined Science [Trilogy] - 9-9
AQA English Literature - 9 [125/130]
AQA English Language - 9 [Speaking: Distinction]
AQA Mathematics - 8
AQA Polish - 9
Edexcel History - 9 [128/132]
Edexcel 3D Design - 6 [Don't ask for advice with this subject, I took it because I hated everything else on the sheet and was no good at it]
Edexcel BTEC Music - D*
Edexcel BTEC Information Technology - D*

Eng Lit Texts:
- Shakespeare: Macbeth
- Charles Dickens: A Christmas Carol
- JB Priestley: An Inspector Calls

History Topics:
- Anglo-Saxon and Norman England
- Medicine Through Time + The British Sector of the Western Front
- Weimar and Nazi Germany
Original post by zeasea
Hello there. I'm bored. So bored that I'm gradually losing my sanity in the last two days until I start sixth form. Therefore I've decided I might as well do something productive with my time, and hope I don't descend any further than I already have.
I've listed my subjects and grades, with exact scores where I did particularly well. For all other subjects, I'm nice and comfortably within the grade boundary.
I'll also list the specific topics I was examined on - bear in mind that as a COVID cohort student, English and History each dropped a topic so I only have three, whereas you'll have four.

Grades:
AQA Combined Science [Trilogy] - 9-9
AQA English Literature - 9 [125/130]
AQA English Language - 9 [Speaking: Distinction]
AQA Mathematics - 8
AQA Polish - 9
Edexcel History - 9 [128/132]
Edexcel 3D Design - 6 [Don't ask for advice with this subject, I took it because I hated everything else on the sheet and was no good at it]
Edexcel BTEC Music - D*
Edexcel BTEC Information Technology - D*

Eng Lit Texts:
- Shakespeare: Macbeth
- Charles Dickens: A Christmas Carol
- JB Priestley: An Inspector Calls

History Topics:
- Anglo-Saxon and Norman England
- Medicine Through Time + The British Sector of the Western Front
- Weimar and Nazi Germany

Hi, I'm going into Year 11.
Congrats on the grades! You should be super proud!
Do you have any advice on how to study for languages, I do AQA French but revision techniques are probably relevant anyways. Thanks in advance!
Reply 2
Original post by Unikitty77
Hi, I'm going into Year 11.
Congrats on the grades! You should be super proud!
Do you have any advice on how to study for languages, I do AQA French but revision techniques are probably relevant anyways. Thanks in advance!

hi there, sorry i've taken a while, i got dragged outside :smile:
i didn't take a (learnt) language at gcse (polish is my home language so no revision was required) but i am self-teaching myself german, so i'll tell you what i've got from that and you can see if it helps with your studies:

- vocab and anki. i use frequency dictionaries and anki to get a hang of the most common words in the language. this really helps with things like translation exercises and general comprehension. i would really recommend flashcards for learning vocab in general, and use spaced repetition if you can - anki does this by default.
- make sure that you understand the grammar. one of the worst mistakes i made while teaching myself german (that still comes back to bite me) is not getting enough of a grip on grammar rules - while i can comprehend and translate german to english, i cannot translate english to german or form my own sentences. if you struggle with grammar i would really recommend making that a priority until you're confident with it as i imagine it would make life quite a lot easier.
- immerse yourself as much as you can at your current level. watch tv shows or films in the language, read the news (bonus points if you translate it), or try a really simple book. this really helps as you pick up things like words and common sentence structures. it'll also get you used to the language - with some languages, even if you technically understand them, reading or seeing them on a page can be overwhelming, and i've found immersion to be really helpful with breaking that.
- if you're struggling with a passage, take it one line or one word at a time. is there any context given in what you understand of the passage? what would it make sense for it to say? are there any individual words you can piece together to at least get an idea of the sentence?
- get really confident with conjugations. another one that comes back to bite me all the time. it is really hard to form your own sentences if you don't know or understand the conjugation and grammar rules. this is another one that just makes life so much easier once you get it in your head, and i really regret neglecting it at the start.
- practice! find communities online that speak or are learning your target language and practice with them, ask them (and your teacher, if your teacher is any good unlike my old spanish teachers) for help if you need it. having the feeling that a community is behind you if you get stuck is really motivating at times when you just don't get it, you can't find anything about it and are about to give up.
Reply 3
heyyy, just finished GCSEs w these grades:
English lang (AQA) -9
English lit (AQA- macbeth, AIC, ACC)- 8
Maths (Higher Edexcel)- 6
Science (Higher AQA synergy)- 6:7
History (AQA- conflict and tension, germany + restoration)- 9
Drama (Edexcel)- 9
Sociology (AQA)- 9
Spanish (Higher AQA)- 7
Since I do some more unique ones (like synergy for science), im happy to offer advice <33
Original post by Unikitty77
Hi, I'm going into Year 11.
Congrats on the grades! You should be super proud!
Do you have any advice on how to study for languages, I do AQA French but revision techniques are probably relevant anyways. Thanks in advance!


Hi, I actually did AQA Spanish for both GCSE and A Level (ended up with an A in my A Level results) so I'll list some things I wish I paid more attention to whilst doing my GCSEs (which I never ended up actually sitting but it's alright):

1. Flashcards will become your bestie- there are plenty of pre-made vocab flashcards for languages on websites such as Quizlet. Since the number of vocab for GCSE languages is significantly lower than at A Level, it should be relatively easy to get through a bunch of flashcards for each unit (Relationships, Leisure etc). If you prefer physical flashcards and you really want the vocab to stick, you could always try to come up with your own anecdotes or even drawing a little picture on one side of the flashcard.

2. Listen to French! Listen to French songs, and I would also highly recommend the Duolingo French Podcast. I only discovered they had a podcast for French and Spanish when I was just starting Year 12 and it's simply fantastic. I would listen to a podcast episode in Spanish, and it's designed for higher intermediate learners (so it may be hard to get into sometimes but there are some moments where the presenter speakers in English if you need to get up to speed- there's also a transcript on the Duolingo Podcast website so it's great for picking up some new words and also making sure you spell them correctly!)

3) Master your grammar! Practice conjugating as often as possible. To be frank, I still suck at grammar and that's probably because I always tried to avoid it. Practice conjugating in the past, present and future in all the forms (I, he/she/, them, you singular, you plural etc). For Spanish I found the Easy Learning Spanish Grammar book published by Collins to be especially helpful. For each tense there's an explanation of what that tense if used for, with examples and a table of all the conjugated forms of both regular and irregular verbs. I believe there is also an Easy Learning Grammar Book for French- I'd give it a go :smile:

But yeah apart from that I'd say try to participate in French lessons as much as possible and put your effort in your homework (I'm sure you do both of these things anyway but this is just a reminder)

I'll actually be picking up French for the first time and continuing with Spanish after taking a gap year so if you need any more advice I'd be very happy to help! I'm thinking to start dabbling into the French language so if I come across any useful resources during my self study, I'll let you know.

I really hope this helps <3
Original post by hyacinth77
Hi, I actually did AQA Spanish for both GCSE and A Level (ended up with an A in my A Level results) so I'll list some things I wish I paid more attention to whilst doing my GCSEs (which I never ended up actually sitting but it's alright):

1. Flashcards will become your bestie- there are plenty of pre-made vocab flashcards for languages on websites such as Quizlet. Since the number of vocab for GCSE languages is significantly lower than at A Level, it should be relatively easy to get through a bunch of flashcards for each unit (Relationships, Leisure etc). If you prefer physical flashcards and you really want the vocab to stick, you could always try to come up with your own anecdotes or even drawing a little picture on one side of the flashcard.

2. Listen to French! Listen to French songs, and I would also highly recommend the Duolingo French Podcast. I only discovered they had a podcast for French and Spanish when I was just starting Year 12 and it's simply fantastic. I would listen to a podcast episode in Spanish, and it's designed for higher intermediate learners (so it may be hard to get into sometimes but there are some moments where the presenter speakers in English if you need to get up to speed- there's also a transcript on the Duolingo Podcast website so it's great for picking up some new words and also making sure you spell them correctly!)

3) Master your grammar! Practice conjugating as often as possible. To be frank, I still suck at grammar and that's probably because I always tried to avoid it. Practice conjugating in the past, present and future in all the forms (I, he/she/, them, you singular, you plural etc). For Spanish I found the Easy Learning Spanish Grammar book published by Collins to be especially helpful. For each tense there's an explanation of what that tense if used for, with examples and a table of all the conjugated forms of both regular and irregular verbs. I believe there is also an Easy Learning Grammar Book for French- I'd give it a go :smile:

But yeah apart from that I'd say try to participate in French lessons as much as possible and put your effort in your homework (I'm sure you do both of these things anyway but this is just a reminder)

I'll actually be picking up French for the first time and continuing with Spanish after taking a gap year so if you need any more advice I'd be very happy to help! I'm thinking to start dabbling into the French language so if I come across any useful resources during my self study, I'll let you know.

I really hope this helps <3

Thanks so much!
If you find any resources please send them to me, I need all the help I can get! 😁
Good luck with French and Spanish!
how on earth do you go about revising english lit and language other than reading the texts? also is bbc bitesize useful for revison
Reply 7
Original post by vvsbogeys
how on earth do you go about revising english lit and language other than reading the texts? also is bbc bitesize useful for revison

bbc bitesize really depends on what subject and how you use it. i found it great for science and maths, but not so much for literature because it just doesn't go into enough detail to get high grades.

for english literature, QUOTES. make flashcards to memorise key quotes from the text - remembering a lot of them already puts you in a much better position for any question and any analysis.
next up, make sure you have a good grip of the texts as a whole - know what the structure is like, what the structure means, get well-acquainted with the historical and social context as this is extremely important for high grades - why would this be appealing or not appealing to an audience watching at a time? why has the writer chosen to do it in that way?
then your technique. do practice questions and practice the analysis format - to get really high grades you need to go into an excruciating amount of detail and then offer an alternative interpretation as well. getting comfortable with writing in that style is really important, and at a certain point it'll become second-nature and you'll be able to link anything to anything else.

for language, i would really just recommend practicing each of the question types with a variety of extracts, as you never know what genre or style you'll get in the exam. also make sure you practice your creative and persuasive writing, and if you can, get someone to mark them for you and give you suggestions on how to improve.

for both papers, a great thing a teacher told us: if you can still ask yourself 'why' or add a 'because' at the end of your analysis, you haven't gone deep enough.
(edited 1 year ago)
Original post by zeasea
Hello there. I'm bored. So bored that I'm gradually losing my sanity in the last two days until I start sixth form. Therefore I've decided I might as well do something productive with my time, and hope I don't descend any further than I already have.
I've listed my subjects and grades, with exact scores where I did particularly well. For all other subjects, I'm nice and comfortably within the grade boundary.
I'll also list the specific topics I was examined on - bear in mind that as a COVID cohort student, English and History each dropped a topic so I only have three, whereas you'll have four.

Grades:
AQA Combined Science [Trilogy] - 9-9
AQA English Literature - 9 [125/130]
AQA English Language - 9 [Speaking: Distinction]
AQA Mathematics - 8
AQA Polish - 9
Edexcel History - 9 [128/132]
Edexcel 3D Design - 6 [Don't ask for advice with this subject, I took it because I hated everything else on the sheet and was no good at it]
Edexcel BTEC Music - D*
Edexcel BTEC Information Technology - D*

Eng Lit Texts:
- Shakespeare: Macbeth
- Charles Dickens: A Christmas Carol
- JB Priestley: An Inspector Calls

History Topics:
- Anglo-Saxon and Norman England
- Medicine Through Time + The British Sector of the Western Front
- Weimar and Nazi Germany


how to well iin history
Reply 9
Original post by Mohib.M
how to well iin history

step 1: know your content.
if you're not great with memorising large amounts of information, here's the key things you'll need:
- last names of key figures [you don't really need the first name unless there are two people with the same last name or you feel like it]
-
why the key figures are important [e.g. if you do medicine through time, actually know what the person developed/invented, for sort of obvious reasons. you don't need to know their entire life story, just the key things that make them significant or not significant.]
- month and year of key events [this is really important because questions will ask for answers covering a certain date range, so make sure you know at least the month and year that events happened so that you can actually answer the question]
- causes, events and outcomes of key events [causes so you know why it happened and can link to other events, what happened so that you can explain and analyse the event, and outcomes so that you know what the event led to, what consequences there were, etc and analyse that]
- anything else that doesn't quite fit into any of those that you feel is important. make sure that you know all of the above in detail, as detail gets you the marks.

step 2: exam technique.
this is one to ask your teacher about as they'll know where you can improve better than me. however, an example of what i did was using the acronym peel in long questions [12-16 marks]. this is not the only structure you need - you will need a different structure for source questions and the weird 8-markers. this is just an example.
p - point. what point are you making? e.g. is x more or less significant than y? whatever your main point is, it goes here and it's one or two sentences.
e - evidence. what part of the event/person supports your point?
e - explain. go into depth about why your evidence supports the point. what happened, what the impact on the question topic was, etc. this part should be relevant and detailed.
l - link. link back to the question and effectively write a mini-conclusion at the end of your paragraph, very briefly restating your point and main reason.

tips:
- go into as much detail as you can in the time given. detailed analysis of events is extremely important in getting the marks.
- read the question. like just read it. what date range is given in the question? what is it actually asking for?
- use up to 2 of the prompts if you feel you need them or they're a point you were going to make anyways. always aim for 3 points in 12-16 mark questions, and write up your non-prompt point FIRST. this is because your mark will be capped if you only use the prompts and no original ideas, and writing your original point first will ensure that if you run out of time you won't be seen as relying on the prompts.
- you don't have to do the paper in order if you don't want to. my teachers suggested doing it back to front, but any other order works too - i did one of my papers in the order q1, q3, q2 and other strange combinations. be aware of interlinked source questions though - you'll want to do those in order.
Original post by zeasea
step 1: know your content.
if you're not great with memorising large amounts of information, here's the key things you'll need:
- last names of key figures [you don't really need the first name unless there are two people with the same last name or you feel like it]
-
why the key figures are important [e.g. if you do medicine through time, actually know what the person developed/invented, for sort of obvious reasons. you don't need to know their entire life story, just the key things that make them significant or not significant.]
- month and year of key events [this is really important because questions will ask for answers covering a certain date range, so make sure you know at least the month and year that events happened so that you can actually answer the question]
- causes, events and outcomes of key events [causes so you know why it happened and can link to other events, what happened so that you can explain and analyse the event, and outcomes so that you know what the event led to, what consequences there were, etc and analyse that]
- anything else that doesn't quite fit into any of those that you feel is important. make sure that you know all of the above in detail, as detail gets you the marks.

step 2: exam technique.
this is one to ask your teacher about as they'll know where you can improve better than me. however, an example of what i did was using the acronym peel in long questions [12-16 marks]. this is not the only structure you need - you will need a different structure for source questions and the weird 8-markers. this is just an example.
p - point. what point are you making? e.g. is x more or less significant than y? whatever your main point is, it goes here and it's one or two sentences.
e - evidence. what part of the event/person supports your point?
e - explain. go into depth about why your evidence supports the point. what happened, what the impact on the question topic was, etc. this part should be relevant and detailed.
l - link. link back to the question and effectively write a mini-conclusion at the end of your paragraph, very briefly restating your point and main reason.

tips:
- go into as much detail as you can in the time given. detailed analysis of events is extremely important in getting the marks.
- read the question. like just read it. what date range is given in the question? what is it actually asking for?
- use up to 2 of the prompts if you feel you need them or they're a point you were going to make anyways. always aim for 3 points in 12-16 mark questions, and write up your non-prompt point FIRST. this is because your mark will be capped if you only use the prompts and no original ideas, and writing your original point first will ensure that if you run out of time you won't be seen as relying on the prompts.
- you don't have to do the paper in order if you don't want to. my teachers suggested doing it back to front, but any other order works too - i did one of my papers in the order q1, q3, q2 and other strange combinations. be aware of interlinked source questions though - you'll want to do those in order.


tysm do u have exemplar answers?
do u also have any resources for english lit like quotes and their analysis and any of ur exemplar essays for any of these books: a christmas carol, inspector calls, macbeth
thanks
Reply 11
Original post by Mohib.M
tysm do u have exemplar answers?
do u also have any resources for english lit like quotes and their analysis and any of ur exemplar essays for any of these books: a christmas carol, inspector calls, macbeth
thanks

i'm afraid i don't have any of my answers anymore, but i'm sure your teacher [or even another teacher in the department] will be able to provide some if you ask. there are also plenty of them online :smile: when you do get some, i would suggest noting down what you liked about the answer along with any content the answer had in it that you missed and think is important.

for english lit, i'm of the belief that you have to do the work because i can't really tell you what your interpretation of a text is, lol. you don't mention what year you're in but if you're only just starting to study texts, make sure you take really good notes that you can use later. if you've already studied them, go back and refine the notes you've made, read the texts and annotate again, just to make sure you have everything you might want later on. some important things to have include:
- context
- themes
- characters
- quotes and techniques for both of the above

after that, make a shortlist of quotes that you really like and can analyse well. have 3-5 for each theme and character. make sure to include ones you can include in high-level analysis, for example structural choices and iambic pentameter, etc. i will try to dig up this thing our english department used that they called 'multiple-purpose quotes' - quotes that you can use for a wide variety of questions. i'll dm you that if i can find it. one thing i found that helped me memorise quotes was just putting them up on the wall and seeing them constantly - while this shouldn't be your only revision method, it does help them stick in your head a bit if you're already familiar with them. i can't really provide resources because a lot of the things i looked at during my exams were just not detailed and high-level enough for me, and i think that in english lit you benefit massively from going through the text yourself and doing your own analysis.
Original post by zeasea
i'm afraid i don't have any of my answers anymore, but i'm sure your teacher [or even another teacher in the department] will be able to provide some if you ask. there are also plenty of them online :smile: when you do get some, i would suggest noting down what you liked about the answer along with any content the answer had in it that you missed and think is important.

for english lit, i'm of the belief that you have to do the work because i can't really tell you what your interpretation of a text is, lol. you don't mention what year you're in but if you're only just starting to study texts, make sure you take really good notes that you can use later. if you've already studied them, go back and refine the notes you've made, read the texts and annotate again, just to make sure you have everything you might want later on. some important things to have include:
- context
- themes
- characters
- quotes and techniques for both of the above

after that, make a shortlist of quotes that you really like and can analyse well. have 3-5 for each theme and character. make sure to include ones you can include in high-level analysis, for example structural choices and iambic pentameter, etc. i will try to dig up this thing our english department used that they called 'multiple-purpose quotes' - quotes that you can use for a wide variety of questions. i'll dm you that if i can find it. one thing i found that helped me memorise quotes was just putting them up on the wall and seeing them constantly - while this shouldn't be your only revision method, it does help them stick in your head a bit if you're already familiar with them. i can't really provide resources because a lot of the things i looked at during my exams were just not detailed and high-level enough for me, and i think that in english lit you benefit massively from going through the text yourself and doing your own analysis.


hey i just wanted to say thanks cos i got a 9 in english lit for my mocks, however i got a 6 in history and im very dissappointed, clueless, confused and demotivated atm
Reply 13
Original post by Mohib.M
hey i just wanted to say thanks cos i got a 9 in english lit for my mocks, however i got a 6 in history and im very dissappointed, clueless, confused and demotivated atm

firstly congratulations on your 9! do you get your mock papers back at your school to review? it might be worth asking your history teacher for this, as the best way to see what went wrong is to review your answer and see exactly where it is you lost marks. it would be even better if they went through your paper with you to identify weaknesses. unfortunately it's hard for me to give a definite answer as to what went wrong as there are a lot of tiny little things that can lead to a lower grade than expected in history, so i would really recommend seeing if you can ask your teacher for feedback, or at least getting your paper back to have a look over and review.
Original post by zeasea
firstly congratulations on your 9! do you get your mock papers back at your school to review? it might be worth asking your history teacher for this, as the best way to see what went wrong is to review your answer and see exactly where it is you lost marks. it would be even better if they went through your paper with you to identify weaknesses. unfortunately it's hard for me to give a definite answer as to what went wrong as there are a lot of tiny little things that can lead to a lower grade than expected in history, so i would really recommend seeing if you can ask your teacher for feedback, or at least getting your paper back to have a look over and review.

if you want when i get my papers back i can screenshot and send it to you because my teacher is very lazy and is not in school most of the time. she is the type that is just there for the money.
Reply 15
Original post by Mohib.M
if you want when i get my papers back i can screenshot and send it to you because my teacher is very lazy and is not in school most of the time. she is the type that is just there for the money.

that's unfortunate. i'm happy to have a look when you get them back if you're still not sure what went wrong, though the teacher who marked the paper may have left little notes or abbreviations on certain sections as feedback so make sure you look for any of that as well as it can tell you a lot about what went wrong/right if your school does that :smile:

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