The Student Room Group

How can I get better in GCSEs?

I'm not sure if I'm going the right way for gcses and whether my hard work will be worth it.

I want to pursue maths, however I have recently found that I'm struggling to understand certain topics (which is really surprising) and suddenly I'm not able to focus in lessons.

I don't know how to study physics (apart from the maths equations), as I watch freesciencelessons and review the topic but after a day I forget/suddenly can't understand the topics and I have bad teachers, so I'm stressed about that.

I got really burnt out during my year 9 exams and I don't know how to prevent this from happening again.

I spend at least 3-4 hours afterschool studying and at least 6-7 hours during weekends and I'm not sure as to whether I'm doing the right things or not. My mental health is being affected a lot as I'm really stressed about gcses.
Reply 1
I would definitely recommend studying for fewer hours hrs at max per day maybe 3
as it will really drain you out
for physics, the only way you can learn is by making flashcards whether that be online on websites like Quizlet or on paper that way you can test yourself anytime and will constantly retain information.
another way is by doing practice exam papers, I would recommend starting off with the easier ones from 2010 and then working your way up. keep a record of your corrections and when it comes to exam season review them
for maths, I would definitely recommend watching a video on YouTube as sometimes teachers tend to complicate things if you still do not understand particular questions I would ask your teacher to figure out where you went wrong so you fully understand the concept
but most importantly take breaks if you feel like you can't focus for that 1 hour take a quick break instead of trying to push through it
Don't worry
You've got this :smile:
Original post by *LifeHappens*
I'm not sure if I'm going the right way for gcses and whether my hard work will be worth it.

I want to pursue maths, however I have recently found that I'm struggling to understand certain topics (which is really surprising) and suddenly I'm not able to focus in lessons.

I don't know how to study physics (apart from the maths equations), as I watch freesciencelessons and review the topic but after a day I forget/suddenly can't understand the topics and I have bad teachers, so I'm stressed about that.

I got really burnt out during my year 9 exams and I don't know how to prevent this from happening again.

I spend at least 3-4 hours afterschool studying and at least 6-7 hours during weekends and I'm not sure as to whether I'm doing the right things or not. My mental health is being affected a lot as I'm really stressed about gcses.

Sounds like you're burnt out. It's common when you spend that many hours studying.

With study, there are usually specific techniques you can try. I would usually pick the techniques that have "proven" to work according to YouTubers who got straight 9s. See the following as examples:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QUxv3nPsCxo
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UgLh4RNQT9I
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=meHkA9PR-Bc
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=myCELuCI4Wc
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9eQKxdMZbzk
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FVIjIOWYRqM
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zjgd4aqQ-9o
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0SchpNJ8Yww
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DemwV-a42Ss
https://benjaminmcevoy.com/get-9s-8s-gcses-levels/

I do recommend looking up videos for the specific subjects that you have problems with though e.g.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aJEkjuN9qJ4
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5RwbT5D6sh8
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f4Pa9hYX7rg
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y8yC4bBYyos
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PBRrL8Bhdlg
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NL7u7vZ4mnM
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mWX900ZrwwU
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GZMx_jDlBSc

You would want to study smart before you study hard. Studying hard without being smart about it can mean a lot of wasted effort and long hours.

Do note, your A Level grades would be more important than your GCSE grades when applying for your maths degree. However, it doesn't mean you should slack off during your GCSEs as your college might not let you do the A Levels in Maths and FM that you should do when applying for your degree.
Reply 3
Original post by *LifeHappens*
I'm not sure if I'm going the right way for gcses and whether my hard work will be worth it.

I want to pursue maths, however I have recently found that I'm struggling to understand certain topics (which is really surprising) and suddenly I'm not able to focus in lessons.

I don't know how to study physics (apart from the maths equations), as I watch freesciencelessons and review the topic but after a day I forget/suddenly can't understand the topics and I have bad teachers, so I'm stressed about that.

I got really burnt out during my year 9 exams and I don't know how to prevent this from happening again.

I spend at least 3-4 hours afterschool studying and at least 6-7 hours during weekends and I'm not sure as to whether I'm doing the right things or not. My mental health is being affected a lot as I'm really stressed about gcses.


@lifehappens
I'm really sorry to hear how you are currently feeling. We sometimes put in a commendable tremendous amount of effort, which does not seem to pay out in the long run. Please understand and acknowledge that it is very normal to endure challenges in our studies, especially with complex subjects such as mathematics.
I would recommend that you try to balance your study time with relaxation and breaks to protect your mental health. I understand that you are definitely putting in a lot of effort, and with the necessary support and tactics, I believe your hard work will pay off.
It is okay to seek help and support. You can also consider talking to your school educators or counselors regarding your struggles with certain subjects and the burnout. I believe these professionals can provide guidance and resources to help you.
Remain positive and if need be, reach out to me via DM for further assistance. You're not alone in this journey!
Reply 4
@lifehappens
I'm really sorry to hear how you are currently feeling. We sometimes put in a commendable tremendous amount of effort, which does not seem to pay out in the long run. Please understand and acknowledge that it is very normal to endure challenges in our studies, especially with complex subjects such as mathematics.
I would recommend that you try to balance your study time with relaxation and breaks to protect your mental health. I understand that you are definitely putting in a lot of effort, and with the necessary support and tactics, I believe your hard work will pay off.
It is okay to seek help and support. You can also consider talking to your school educators or counselors regarding your struggles with certain subjects and the burnout. I believe these professionals can provide guidance and resources to help you.
Remain positive and if need be, reach out to me via DM for further assistance. You're not alone in this journey!
Original post by nobody_000
I would definitely recommend studying for fewer hours hrs at max per day maybe 3
as it will really drain you out
for physics, the only way you can learn is by making flashcards whether that be online on websites like Quizlet or on paper that way you can test yourself anytime and will constantly retain information.
another way is by doing practice exam papers, I would recommend starting off with the easier ones from 2010 and then working your way up. keep a record of your corrections and when it comes to exam season review them
for maths, I would definitely recommend watching a video on YouTube as sometimes teachers tend to complicate things if you still do not understand particular questions I would ask your teacher to figure out where you went wrong so you fully understand the concept
but most importantly take breaks if you feel like you can't focus for that 1 hour take a quick break instead of trying to push through it
Don't worry
You've got this :smile:

Thank you for replying, all the tips you gave me are helpful!

Yes for physics, I think that I can make flashcards for myself and I can use pmt for the exam questions. For maths, I think I have a lot of catching up to do, apart from pmt and maths genie, would there be any other websites where I can find challenging questions on?

:smile:
Original post by MindMax2000
Sounds like you're burnt out. It's common when you spend that many hours studying.

With study, there are usually specific techniques you can try. I would usually pick the techniques that have "proven" to work according to YouTubers who got straight 9s. See the following as examples:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QUxv3nPsCxo
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UgLh4RNQT9I
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=meHkA9PR-Bc
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=myCELuCI4Wc
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9eQKxdMZbzk
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FVIjIOWYRqM
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zjgd4aqQ-9o
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0SchpNJ8Yww
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DemwV-a42Ss
https://benjaminmcevoy.com/get-9s-8s-gcses-levels/

I do recommend looking up videos for the specific subjects that you have problems with though e.g.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aJEkjuN9qJ4
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5RwbT5D6sh8
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f4Pa9hYX7rg
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y8yC4bBYyos
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PBRrL8Bhdlg
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NL7u7vZ4mnM
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mWX900ZrwwU
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GZMx_jDlBSc

You would want to study smart before you study hard. Studying hard without being smart about it can mean a lot of wasted effort and long hours.

Do note, your A Level grades would be more important than your GCSE grades when applying for your maths degree. However, it doesn't mean you should slack off during your GCSEs as your college might not let you do the A Levels in Maths and FM that you should do when applying for your degree.

Yes I may be burnt out and it's quite difficult to come out of that especially as it has affected me a lot.

Thank you for compiling a lot of helpful youtube videos together!

Yes, A level grades are mostly looked at, but as you said, I would need a good grade to do maths + fm a level. If I do fm at gcse, does that qualify me for either maths or fm at a level, or does it just introduce me to as level maths topics?

:smile:
Original post by Cedriko
@lifehappens
I'm really sorry to hear how you are currently feeling. We sometimes put in a commendable tremendous amount of effort, which does not seem to pay out in the long run. Please understand and acknowledge that it is very normal to endure challenges in our studies, especially with complex subjects such as mathematics.
I would recommend that you try to balance your study time with relaxation and breaks to protect your mental health. I understand that you are definitely putting in a lot of effort, and with the necessary support and tactics, I believe your hard work will pay off.
It is okay to seek help and support. You can also consider talking to your school educators or counselors regarding your struggles with certain subjects and the burnout. I believe these professionals can provide guidance and resources to help you.
Remain positive and if need be, reach out to me via DM for further assistance. You're not alone in this journey!

Thank you for the advice, I hope that I'll be able to work out a good balance so my mental health doesn't get to a point where I can't fix it.
Is there a way I can improve the quality of my studying so I can understand + apply the content a bit more?
I'll have a talk to the school counsellors to see if they can help me, it's a good suggestion.

:smile:
Original post by *LifeHappens*
Yes I may be burnt out and it's quite difficult to come out of that especially as it has affected me a lot.

Thank you for compiling a lot of helpful youtube videos together!

Yes, A level grades are mostly looked at, but as you said, I would need a good grade to do maths + fm a level. If I do fm at gcse, does that qualify me for either maths or fm at a level, or does it just introduce me to as level maths topics?

:smile:


If I do fm at gcse, does that qualify me for either maths or fm at a level, or does it just introduce me to as level maths topics?
This is where I get really annoyed with the arbitrary entry requirements of 6th form colleges; you don't technically need to meet any grade requirements at GCSE in order to be entered for any of official exam boards in any subject (if you look at any of the UK exam boared for maths, you can vouch for this yourself).
The 6th form colleges will require you to usually score really high in your GCSE Maths though e.g. 7+ in order for you to study A Level Maths and additional conditions for FM. Doing FM at GCSE doesn't necessarily help other than to show that you have a passion for the subject.
In order to do FM at A Level at a 6th form college, you would need to do well in A Level Maths and demonstrate to your teachers that you have what it takes to do FM. Usually those who score 8/9 at GCSE Maths tend to be recommended.

When I was looking through the specification for GCSE FM, it looks like that the topics do cover some of the topics taught in A Level Maths, but not FM. A Level FM covers different topics (arguably more difficult) to A Level Maths.

However, it's up to the individual 6th form college and teachers whether they would allow you to do FM at A Level. There's usually no official criteria for it.

On the other hand, should you wish to study FM A Level as a private candidate outside of college, you can do so. It's not recommended though because it's a challenging subject and I would rather you have the support of teachers in a classroom environment.
Original post by MindMax2000
If I do fm at gcse, does that qualify me for either maths or fm at a level, or does it just introduce me to as level maths topics?
This is where I get really annoyed with the arbitrary entry requirements of 6th form colleges; you don't technically need to meet any grade requirements at GCSE in order to be entered for any of official exam boards in any subject (if you look at any of the UK exam boared for maths, you can vouch for this yourself).
The 6th form colleges will require you to usually score really high in your GCSE Maths though e.g. 7+ in order for you to study A Level Maths and additional conditions for FM. Doing FM at GCSE doesn't necessarily help other than to show that you have a passion for the subject.
In order to do FM at A Level at a 6th form college, you would need to do well in A Level Maths and demonstrate to your teachers that you have what it takes to do FM. Usually those who score 8/9 at GCSE Maths tend to be recommended.

When I was looking through the specification for GCSE FM, it looks like that the topics do cover some of the topics taught in A Level Maths, but not FM. A Level FM covers different topics (arguably more difficult) to A Level Maths.

However, it's up to the individual 6th form college and teachers whether they would allow you to do FM at A Level. There's usually no official criteria for it.

On the other hand, should you wish to study FM A Level as a private candidate outside of college, you can do so. It's not recommended though because it's a challenging subject and I would rather you have the support of teachers in a classroom environment.

Ohh thanks for making it clearer. I researched a few sixth forms and many of them have confusing and very different entry requirements to eachother. But just because the entry requirement is high or low, it shouldn't affect the grade I aim for at gcse, so I'll still work for it.
I wish that these things were laid out during the start of gcses/start of yr 11, because things like entry requirements can affect the subjects people do at a level as they had no awareness of it before, but it's fine.
Original post by *LifeHappens*
Thank you for replying, all the tips you gave me are helpful!

Yes for physics, I think that I can make flashcards for myself and I can use pmt for the exam questions. For maths, I think I have a lot of catching up to do, apart from pmt and maths genie, would there be any other websites where I can find challenging questions on?

:smile:

you could try
savemyexams
irevise
mmerevise
mrbartonmaths
thirdspacelearning
corbettmaths
Original post by *LifeHappens*
Ohh thanks for making it clearer. I researched a few sixth forms and many of them have confusing and very different entry requirements to eachother. But just because the entry requirement is high or low, it shouldn't affect the grade I aim for at gcse, so I'll still work for it.
I wish that these things were laid out during the start of gcses/start of yr 11, because things like entry requirements can affect the subjects people do at a level as they had no awareness of it before, but it's fine.


I researched a few sixth forms and many of them have confusing and very different entry requirements to each other.
Yep, mostly arbitrary, vary wildly, and often make minimal sense. I don't know why they do it the way they do, but if I ever feel compelled to talk about this ridiculous system of entry requirements, believe me I will probably throw everything in the book at them.

Rule of thumb though: try to get high grades across the board and you generally should be fine. Since you're not picking A Levels that are optional at GCSE, you should be fine with most colleges as far as I know.

But just because the entry requirement is high or low, it shouldn't affect the grade I aim for at gcse, so I'll still work for it.
Nope, it shouldn't affect what grade you should aim for. Go for the 8/9 grades in maths and the sciences.

I wish that these things were laid out during the start of gcses/start of yr 11, because things like entry requirements can affect the subjects people do at a level as they had no awareness of it before
Another bone that I want to pick with schools and colleges. If the schools don't know about this or if the colleges are making things unnecessarily complicated, then either they sort it out between themselves and getting full disclosure on the issue or they abandon this optional confusing system. At the moment, they do neither, so students are left in limbo and require to figure things out themselves.
Original post by nobody_000
you could try
savemyexams
irevise
mmerevise
mrbartonmaths
thirdspacelearning
corbettmaths

ooh thanks! I just got the free maths papers from thirdspacelearning and checked out irevise, it's a good website
Original post by MindMax2000
I researched a few sixth forms and many of them have confusing and very different entry requirements to each other.
Yep, mostly arbitrary, vary wildly, and often make minimal sense. I don't know why they do it the way they do, but if I ever feel compelled to talk about this ridiculous system of entry requirements, believe me I will probably throw everything in the book at them.

Rule of thumb though: try to get high grades across the board and you generally should be fine. Since you're not picking A Levels that are optional at GCSE, you should be fine with most colleges as far as I know.

But just because the entry requirement is high or low, it shouldn't affect the grade I aim for at gcse, so I'll still work for it.
Nope, it shouldn't affect what grade you should aim for. Go for the 8/9 grades in maths and the sciences.

I wish that these things were laid out during the start of gcses/start of yr 11, because things like entry requirements can affect the subjects people do at a level as they had no awareness of it before
Another bone that I want to pick with schools and colleges. If the schools don't know about this or if the colleges are making things unnecessarily complicated, then either they sort it out between themselves and getting full disclosure on the issue or they abandon this optional confusing system. At the moment, they do neither, so students are left in limbo and require to figure things out themselves.

Yes haha, I think a lot of students have many things to say about how the education system has been carried out, including myself.

Yes I'll try my hardest to go for 8s + 9s. For maths and chemistry, I expect nothing less than a 9 for myself, but for biology and physics I'll aim for an 8.

I agree, the only reason why I know what to aim for and what subjects to focus on (because I want to do them for a level/further study) is because of the research I wanted to do. Perhaps students would understand their learning a bit more and the point of it all if they were better informed, but oh well.
WATCH THE VIDEOS - THEY EXPLAIN WHAT I'M SAYING IN A MUCH MORE UNDERSTANDABLE WAY!

Everyone puts too much focus on revision. Minimal revision should achieve all 8s and 9s and leave plenty of time for other activities - activities that are just as important as grades (enrichment).

In my opinion, there are 3 stages we need to consider when learning a topic:

1. Before
2. During
3. After (Revision)

1. Before
Before learning a topic, you should aim to get a brief understanding of how everything links together. Perhaps create a mind map for this, or a list of related key words. I like to ask my teachers for a spreadsheet of what we're planning to learn through the year and pre study accordingly.
This video explains the concept quite well: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wg4K2Np1ybk

2. During
When in lesson, you should already have a brief idea of the content. Consequently, you can take non-linear notes more effectively and efficiently. However, non-linear notes require you to write down the information in an easy-to-understand way personal to you. This makes pre-studying even more important - as you won't be following the teacher step-by-step. An example of non-linear notes would be a mind map. REMEMBER: effective mind maps have colour, lots of doodles and are comprised of mostly key words.
This video explains the concept quite well: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V6MXP0NK9hA

3. After (Revision)
Don't rely on one technique (anki flashcards...). Instead, when revisiting a topic, watch a video, look over a mind map and recall the information, draw a mind map on a whiteboard, use the feynman technique, put any illogical facts onto anki flashcards. In my opinion however, past papers and topic questions should make up the majority of your revision.

BONUS TIP:
The specification is gold for any test - it tells you everything you need to know and nothing else. It's always useful to look over the specification before and after learning a topic.

SECOND BONUS TIP:
Every subject requires different techniques for revision (history, timelines; maths, lots of questions; english, character profiles) - make sure you use the most effective.

That was quite a basic post about studying - by basic I mean easy-to-understand terminology - but it should help a little.

Good luck! :smile:
Original post by username6317368
WATCH THE VIDEOS - THEY EXPLAIN WHAT I'M SAYING IN A MUCH MORE UNDERSTANDABLE WAY!

Everyone puts too much focus on revision. Minimal revision should achieve all 8s and 9s and leave plenty of time for other activities - activities that are just as important as grades (enrichment).

In my opinion, there are 3 stages we need to consider when learning a topic:

1. Before
2. During
3. After (Revision)

1. Before
Before learning a topic, you should aim to get a brief understanding of how everything links together. Perhaps create a mind map for this, or a list of related key words. I like to ask my teachers for a spreadsheet of what we're planning to learn through the year and pre study accordingly.
This video explains the concept quite well: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wg4K2Np1ybk

2. During
When in lesson, you should already have a brief idea of the content. Consequently, you can take non-linear notes more effectively and efficiently. However, non-linear notes require you to write down the information in an easy-to-understand way personal to you. This makes pre-studying even more important - as you won't be following the teacher step-by-step. An example of non-linear notes would be a mind map. REMEMBER: effective mind maps have colour, lots of doodles and are comprised of mostly key words.
This video explains the concept quite well: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V6MXP0NK9hA

3. After (Revision)
Don't rely on one technique (anki flashcards...). Instead, when revisiting a topic, watch a video, look over a mind map and recall the information, draw a mind map on a whiteboard, use the feynman technique, put any illogical facts onto anki flashcards. In my opinion however, past papers and topic questions should make up the majority of your revision.

BONUS TIP:
The specification is gold for any test - it tells you everything you need to know and nothing else. It's always useful to look over the specification before and after learning a topic.

SECOND BONUS TIP:
Every subject requires different techniques for revision (history, timelines; maths, lots of questions; english, character profiles) - make sure you use the most effective.

That was quite a basic post about studying - by basic I mean easy-to-understand terminology - but it should help a little.

Good luck! :smile:

Wow thanks for the guide!
I think I tend to always stick to the same techniques, it might help if I switched the techniques around and try different methods for revision.

:biggrin:
Original post by nobody_000
I would definitely recommend studying for fewer hours hrs at max per day maybe 3
as it will really drain you out
for physics, the only way you can learn is by making flashcards whether that be online on websites like Quizlet or on paper that way you can test yourself anytime and will constantly retain information.
another way is by doing practice exam papers, I would recommend starting off with the easier ones from 2010 and then working your way up. keep a record of your corrections and when it comes to exam season review them
for maths, I would definitely recommend watching a video on YouTube as sometimes teachers tend to complicate things if you still do not understand particular questions I would ask your teacher to figure out where you went wrong so you fully understand the concept
but most importantly take breaks if you feel like you can't focus for that 1 hour take a quick break instead of trying to push through it
Don't worry
You've got this :smile:


I agree

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