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New to the forum, wanting a little advice!:) Y11

Hey everyone, I'm Emma, I would say I'm probably your typical straight A student, for my GCSE's I am predicted all 9's apart from two 8's in maths and spanish. I am studying English lit + language, Maths, Triple science( my fave!), RE, Geography, Spanish and Graphic Design. I am really enjoying science atm especially physics and I can't wait to start astrophysics too. Its between astronomy and law that I would like to do in the future!
Seeing as though I'm in year 11 now I am starting to revise properly, I've done bits here and there but ive been lucky that I'm one of those people who have never had to really revise but I would like to start now as I have ambitions of getting 100% in my GCSE's next year. I am now realising that I'm not really sure how to revise, i have made myself a revision timetable ( but just found the app, any good?) and I am hoping to spend 2 hrs a night and 4 hrs on weekends revising 2 subjects each, but im not really sure what im doing, ive started with blurting everything i can remember from geography coasts but I can remember a lot of it and I could spend hours just blurting, is this right? i have also done that same for biology but I have a Macbeth mock in 2 weeks and i started that by doing an example question and looking at answer structures.
My main concerns I would say are that I don't know how to 'explain' things like I'm not sure what it means to 'explain' a quote or idea. I also don't think I'm very good at English at all, everytime i read someone elses answer it always sounds wayyy better than mine like they have linked it all together and used great vocab and just know how to do it without just repeating what your saying all of the time, my work feels rubbish compared to theirs, but apparently its ok if I'm predicted a 9 lol.

Sorry for the life story, if your still here thanks for reading my rant ahaha

ps apologies for the lower case i's my laptop does it by default and it is extremely tedious to change them all back
(edited 9 months ago)
Reply 1
Hi there!
I’m an A Level student predicted A*AA and achieved 99999887 at GCSE so hope I can help answer your question.
I think you’re off to a great start with a revision timetable and blurting is a great way of assessing your current knowledge.
In preparation for your English mock, example questions are brilliant, keep at these and if you can, ask your teacher if they are willing to mark your answers. You’ll get a feel for where you need to improve and how much you can write in the time. When I was pushed for revision time, I’d maybe spend a few minutes planning an essay even if I couldn’t write it that day. This then helps you to structure your ideas (and you’ve got a plan that you can work from straight away another day!). For the sciences, past papers are also really useful (I use them still in A Level biology) and with them, there is often really useful mark schemes to help you understand what marks you’re getting. YouTube (free science lessons, Miss Estruch) also help for having things explained in a different way to the textbooks. For geography, past papers are good as well.
It’s perfectly normal to feel disheartened and a bit lost with revision, but working out what works best for you will hopefully make you feel more secure in your revision and will be evidenced in your grades this year! You’re really prepared and your revision timetable sounds like an amazing structure to help you get the best grades possible!
Let me know if you’ve got any more questions, I’m happy to help and I’ve got every faith in you!
Original post by Emma0354
Hey everyone, I'm Emma, I would say I'm probably your typical straight A student, for my GCSE's I am predicted all 9's apart from two 8's in maths and spanish. I am studying English lit + language, Maths, Triple science( my fave!), RE, Geography, Spanish and Graphic Design. I am really enjoying science atm especially physics and I can't wait to start astrophysics too. Its between astronomy and law that I would like to do in the future!
Seeing as though I'm in year 11 now I am starting to revise properly, I've done bits here and there but ive been lucky that I'm one of those people who have never had to really revise but I would like to start now as I have ambitions of getting 100% in my GCSE's next year. I am now realising that I'm not really sure how to revise, i have made myself a revision timetable ( but just found the app, any good?) and I am hoping to spend 2 hrs a night and 4 hrs on weekends revising 2 subjects each, but im not really sure what im doing, ive started with blurting everything i can remember from geography coasts but I can remember a lot of it and I could spend hours just blurting, is this right? i have also done that same for biology but I have a Macbeth mock in 2 weeks and i started that by doing an example question and looking at answer structures.
My main concerns I would say are that I don't know how to 'explain' things like I'm not sure what it means to 'explain' a quote or idea. I also don't think I'm very good at English at all, everytime i read someone elses answer it always sounds wayyy better than mine like they have linked it all together and used great vocab and just know how to do it without just repeating what your saying all of the time, my work feels rubbish compared to theirs, but apparently its ok if I'm predicted a 9 lol.

Sorry for the life story, if your still here thanks for reading my rant ahaha

ps apologies for the lower case i's my laptop does it by default and it is extremely tedious to change them all back

Hey Emma 👋

Sounds like you're going to do great! Do you know which A Levels you want to do after your GCSE's?

If it feels like you're not submitting your best work but still getting high grades, it could be that you're looking at it from the perspective of a higher academic level than you've been taught so far. I can relate to that. When I did my GCSE's, I felt like I was submitting some pretty average work (by my own standards) but still getting high grades. When I got to A Level I found it much more challenging and it was not as easy to wing-it as GCSE.

I also struggled with understanding the definition of questions, I still do sometimes. Try looking up definitions of Command Words: describe, analyse, evaluate, explain, etc and that should help to differentiate what they're asking you to do.

You might have found you're hitting the grading requirements by blurting and giving all your knowledge on the subject and in a roundabout way it answers the question well enough. When you get to A Level and uni, they're a bit more particular about the way they want the questions answered. Don't worry about it too much at this point as you're doing very well at GCSE level so far.

What you're doing so far is great, looking at past question and answer structures to round out your vocab. You don't want to be copying answers, but think how you could apply your own words to a good answer structure.

Best wishes
Essex Student Rep - Hayley
Reply 3
Hi Emma! I did my GCSEs this year and was predicted 9s in most of my subjects (I also got grade 9 in these on results day) so hopefully this helps.

I think ways to revise depends on the person but it sounds like you're in the same situation I was in at this point in year 11 because I thought English lit and language were going to be the exams that I performed the worst in. Turns out I got a 9 in both of them though which was mostly just from going over everything and practicing writing my answers.

In lit my school provided us with loads of essay plans so we had a way to answer every possible question that could come up on the exam - they had 3 or 4 paragraphs on them for things like Macbeth but most people chose to write 3 paragraphs with 2 quotes in each, probably because none of us could write 4 massive, detailed paragraphs in 50 minutes (for Macbeth the main essays were Macbeth, Lady Macbeth, Kingship, Macduff and a few others which were based off of themes such as ambition but most of these themes came under the character essay plans). My advice for English lit is to memorise essay plans and make sure you know how to fully explain the quotes that are on your essay plans (explaining quotes is basically picking out a few words and talking about what each word suggests in general and about the point in your paragraph). There might seem a lot of content to go through and remember but you could narrow it down by picking out quotes that would go with multiple essays, then you don't have to remember as many. Honestly, at the start of year 11 I didn't feel confident in lit at all but after practicing writing up essays and learning quotes I felt really prepared for my actual exams and if you're already predicted a 9 then you should be absolutely fine, no matter the way you choose to revise.

For language, you can't really revise questions 1-4 apart from remembering how long you should spend on each question and the things you need to pick out from the text on each one. For question 5 you can definitely revise a pretty good answer; for paper 1 I came up with a piece of descriptive writing, planned it out, and wrote it up, then I kept going back to it for each mock to improve it so it would be the best I could write. For paper 2 I did a similar thing but planned out paragraphs for different issues that I could talk about in non-fiction writing (e.g. environment, education, health, economic, social) then chose a few of them that would fit together in my answer. If the answers that I revised didn't really suit the question, I would edit them slightly so that they would make more sense.

For other subjects I would make a list of topics and revise the things you're not sure about first, then go over the other stuff if you want, but I wouldn't worry about keeping a strict revision timetable if it doesn't work for you as I tried to do this as well but just ended up revising what I felt like I needed to revise most.

Apart from that I would just revise if you think it would make you feel more confident and prepared, but don't do too much or overwhelm yourself. It's really important to balance your time and not spend it all revising, especially in the first part of year 11. Also, if you don't get the grades you want from mocks, don't worry you've got plenty of time to see where you need to improve and if you're predicted 9s then you should do great. Ultimately, ask your teachers for advice, revision materials, essay plans if you need them, or even if you just want to chat and you'll be fine.

Hopefully this helped and I didn't go off on a tangent too much. Hope you do well in your mocks! (also sorry if this is a bit of a long answer, I got a bit carried away with the English revision paragraphs lol)
Reply 4
Original post by squemily16
Hi there!
I’m an A Level student predicted A*AA and achieved 99999887 at GCSE so hope I can help answer your question.
I think you’re off to a great start with a revision timetable and blurting is a great way of assessing your current knowledge.
In preparation for your English mock, example questions are brilliant, keep at these and if you can, ask your teacher if they are willing to mark your answers. You’ll get a feel for where you need to improve and how much you can write in the time. When I was pushed for revision time, I’d maybe spend a few minutes planning an essay even if I couldn’t write it that day. This then helps you to structure your ideas (and you’ve got a plan that you can work from straight away another day!). For the sciences, past papers are also really useful (I use them still in A Level biology) and with them, there is often really useful mark schemes to help you understand what marks you’re getting. YouTube (free science lessons, Miss Estruch) also help for having things explained in a different way to the textbooks. For geography, past papers are good as well.
It’s perfectly normal to feel disheartened and a bit lost with revision, but working out what works best for you will hopefully make you feel more secure in your revision and will be evidenced in your grades this year! You’re really prepared and your revision timetable sounds like an amazing structure to help you get the best grades possible!
Let me know if you’ve got any more questions, I’m happy to help and I’ve got every faith in you!


Well done on your results, they are great!! Thank you so much! This was super helpful, i think example questions are going to be my new best friend ahaha and it was confidence boost too :smile:
(edited 9 months ago)
Reply 5
Original post by EssexStudentRep
Hey Emma 👋

Sounds like you're going to do great! Do you know which A Levels you want to do after your GCSE's?

If it feels like you're not submitting your best work but still getting high grades, it could be that you're looking at it from the perspective of a higher academic level than you've been taught so far. I can relate to that. When I did my GCSE's, I felt like I was submitting some pretty average work (by my own standards) but still getting high grades. When I got to A Level I found it much more challenging and it was not as easy to wing-it as GCSE.

I also struggled with understanding the definition of questions, I still do sometimes. Try looking up definitions of Command Words: describe, analyse, evaluate, explain, etc and that should help to differentiate what they're asking you to do.

You might have found you're hitting the grading requirements by blurting and giving all your knowledge on the subject and in a roundabout way it answers the question well enough. When you get to A Level and uni, they're a bit more particular about the way they want the questions answered. Don't worry about it too much at this point as you're doing very well at GCSE level so far.

What you're doing so far is great, looking at past question and answer structures to round out your vocab. You don't want to be copying answers, but think how you could apply your own words to a good answer structure.

Best wishes
Essex Student Rep - Hayley


Hi! thank you, I'm thinking of law, physics and maybe some other science or maths to go with physics, as im really enjoying science at the minute and law looks really interesting! I also really enjoy physical geography. I think looking at defenitions of command words will be really helpful too, Thanks!
(edited 9 months ago)
Reply 6
Original post by MiaaS
Hi Emma! I did my GCSEs this year and was predicted 9s in most of my subjects (I also got grade 9 in these on results day) so hopefully this helps.

I think ways to revise depends on the person but it sounds like you're in the same situation I was in at this point in year 11 because I thought English lit and language were going to be the exams that I performed the worst in. Turns out I got a 9 in both of them though which was mostly just from going over everything and practicing writing my answers.

In lit my school provided us with loads of essay plans so we had a way to answer every possible question that could come up on the exam - they had 3 or 4 paragraphs on them for things like Macbeth but most people chose to write 3 paragraphs with 2 quotes in each, probably because none of us could write 4 massive, detailed paragraphs in 50 minutes (for Macbeth the main essays were Macbeth, Lady Macbeth, Kingship, Macduff and a few others which were based off of themes such as ambition but most of these themes came under the character essay plans). My advice for English lit is to memorise essay plans and make sure you know how to fully explain the quotes that are on your essay plans (explaining quotes is basically picking out a few words and talking about what each word suggests in general and about the point in your paragraph). There might seem a lot of content to go through and remember but you could narrow it down by picking out quotes that would go with multiple essays, then you don't have to remember as many. Honestly, at the start of year 11 I didn't feel confident in lit at all but after practicing writing up essays and learning quotes I felt really prepared for my actual exams and if you're already predicted a 9 then you should be absolutely fine, no matter the way you choose to revise.

For language, you can't really revise questions 1-4 apart from remembering how long you should spend on each question and the things you need to pick out from the text on each one. For question 5 you can definitely revise a pretty good answer; for paper 1 I came up with a piece of descriptive writing, planned it out, and wrote it up, then I kept going back to it for each mock to improve it so it would be the best I could write. For paper 2 I did a similar thing but planned out paragraphs for different issues that I could talk about in non-fiction writing (e.g. environment, education, health, economic, social) then chose a few of them that would fit together in my answer. If the answers that I revised didn't really suit the question, I would edit them slightly so that they would make more sense.

For other subjects I would make a list of topics and revise the things you're not sure about first, then go over the other stuff if you want, but I wouldn't worry about keeping a strict revision timetable if it doesn't work for you as I tried to do this as well but just ended up revising what I felt like I needed to revise most.

Apart from that I would just revise if you think it would make you feel more confident and prepared, but don't do too much or overwhelm yourself. It's really important to balance your time and not spend it all revising, especially in the first part of year 11. Also, if you don't get the grades you want from mocks, don't worry you've got plenty of time to see where you need to improve and if you're predicted 9s then you should do great. Ultimately, ask your teachers for advice, revision materials, essay plans if you need them, or even if you just want to chat and you'll be fine.

Hopefully this helped and I didn't go off on a tangent too much. Hope you do well in your mocks! (also sorry if this is a bit of a long answer, I got a bit carried away with the English revision paragraphs lol)


Ahaha, no no i don't mind long posts at all! i like reading through them lol, Well done on your results, they are amazing!!
I'm not as worried about revising language as i know there's not a lot you can really do apart from knowing how to answer each question, lit I'm definitely feeling more lost, i think reading through example essays will be really helpful and im hoping my teacher will be willing to mark some of my own as that's a great idea too! Thanks so much!
Original post by Emma0354
Hi! thank you, I'm thinking of law, physics and maybe some other science or maths to go with physics, as im really enjoying science at the minute and law looks really interesting! I also really enjoy physical geography. I think looking at defenitions of command words will be really helpful too, Thanks!

Those are great options. You mentioned you like the idea of astronomy or law as a degree path. Having an essay subject like Law and two sciences like physics and chemistry or one science and maths should help keep your options open for hundreds of different degrees.

I know it feels a million miles away now, but it helps to look at a few different degrees at different universities and see what their entry requirements are for the subjects you're most interested in.

I study biomedical science at Essex because I was more interested in human biology and chemistry at school rather than the physics and maths side of science. I liked the idea of working in a hospital lab so I researched the kind of jobs that would allow me to do that, and the degrees they were looking for.

When you get to A Levels and you study the sciences in more depth than at school, you'll be able to decide for sure what feels right for you. I hope you continue to love science but I'm biased that way!

Best wishes
Essex Student Rep - Hayley
Reply 8
Original post by EssexStudentRep
Those are great options. You mentioned you like the idea of astronomy or law as a degree path. Having an essay subject like Law and two sciences like physics and chemistry or one science and maths should help keep your options open for hundreds of different degrees.

I know it feels a million miles away now, but it helps to look at a few different degrees at different universities and see what their entry requirements are for the subjects you're most interested in.

I study biomedical science at Essex because I was more interested in human biology and chemistry at school rather than the physics and maths side of science. I liked the idea of working in a hospital lab so I researched the kind of jobs that would allow me to do that, and the degrees they were looking for.

When you get to A Levels and you study the sciences in more depth than at school, you'll be able to decide for sure what feels right for you. I hope you continue to love science but I'm biased that way!

Best wishes
Essex Student Rep - Hayley


Yeah, my dream would be to study at Oxford or Cambridge, I think I am capable of getting the grades but i haven't done much other stuff like im not head girl at school and i haven't set up any clubs e.g. im also not sure if i could live 150 miles away from home, im a pretty anxious person anyways ahaha. I definitely like the look of astronomy/astrophysics i even bought myself a telescope! I am fascinated by space and everything that is out there, and the sheer size of it all! However im not sure if it is a phase of mine atm ( im autistic, IFYKYK lol) but I have been interested in law for a good few years and we did a taster session at college last year and i chose law to do as a lesson and we had to decide whether a crime was one of a few types of murder and that was very interesting but i know it wont all be about murders aha!
Original post by Emma0354
Yeah, my dream would be to study at Oxford or Cambridge, I think I am capable of getting the grades but i haven't done much other stuff like im not head girl at school and i haven't set up any clubs e.g. im also not sure if i could live 150 miles away from home, im a pretty anxious person anyways ahaha. I definitely like the look of astronomy/astrophysics i even bought myself a telescope! I am fascinated by space and everything that is out there, and the sheer size of it all! However im not sure if it is a phase of mine atm ( im autistic, IFYKYK lol) but I have been interested in law for a good few years and we did a taster session at college last year and i chose law to do as a lesson and we had to decide whether a crime was one of a few types of murder and that was very interesting but i know it wont all be about murders aha!

You've got plenty of time after your GCSEs for extra curriculars as well. If you haven't done much at school it won't really affect your university application but do try and get involved in some clubs and societies at college/sixth form.

If you're able to maybe next year or the year after, some universities hold summer schools and taster sessions which can give you the experience of being away from home before fully committing to an application.

If you Google astronomy and astrophysics summer schools there's quite a few options. There may even be something close to where you live. Oxford does one that is quite expensive, looks amazing though! 🔭🚀

Something like that would look great on an application but also having special interests is a good thing. They would much rather hear you talk about something you're passionate about than something you did just because it looks good on paper.

ps. there are combination degrees like Law with Criminology if you were interested in that aspect of law ⚖️

Essex Student Rep - Hayley

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