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How to Revise for GCSEs

10th November 20

Revising effectively for your GSCE exams can be the difference between achieving the grade you want and not. Despite the importance of revision, we’re hardly ever taught how to do it properly.

Often you’ll find yourself scanning through a textbook hoping something sticks, which usually doesn’t work. To make your revision count you’ll need to engage with your learning and actively participate in revision.

This will help you reach your full potential as well as allow you to enjoy your learning experience.

Revision doesn’t have to be a daunting process when you’re armed with the correct way to do it. With a little organisation and determination, you can make a big difference in your learning.

Give yourself the best chance of reaching your goals by making some simple changes to get you prepared for exams.

Planning in Advance

LD | How to revise for GCSEs | planning in advance

The most successful students plan their study sessions in advance to help them prepare for oncoming exams.

GCSE exams are usually held in May/June, so make sure you’ve given yourself enough time to work through the modules.

Planning around your other commitments, such as work or holidays, allows you to set realistic study goals. It’s more likely you’ll achieve your desired grade if you give yourself time to go through everything properly.

And less likely if you cram everything into the two weeks before your exam.

Planning in advance allows you to be flexible with your learning. The sooner you set time aside to revise the easier it will be to make changes to your schedule.

If you’re finding a specific area particularly challenging then you can set more time aside for it. Whereas if you’ve given yourself a tight schedule then you won’t be able to do that.

Setting Up the Workspace

Setting up your workspace appropriately can better your chances of revising effectively before you even begin. Whether you’re at your local coffee shop or your dining room table you can apply this set up.

You’ll need a large enough surface where you can comfortably sit upright to work from. Once you’ve found your location then lay out the essential items you need for revision. For example, this could be your laptop, water bottle, notepad and pen.

Anything not deemed ‘essential’ needs to be stored away out of reach. This will help you stay focused on the task at hand without getting distracted by phones or clutter.

As the saying goes “Out of sight, out of mind.” The fewer distractions available the more likely you’ll make it through your entire revision session.

Also, make sure when you’re finished revising to store your work away neatly. This is because it’ll be easier to pick up from where you left off the next time you study.

It can take time to remember what you did when you last revised if you weren’t organised. Some people might even be put off completely if it’s an ordeal to get back into it.

Taking Breaks

LD | How to revise for GCSEs| taking breaks

When revising it’s important to give yourself breaks throughout to give your brain some time to digest the information. It also helps breakdown your revision session into more manageable chunks so it’s not as overwhelming.

We advise you not to go on your phone within these breaks as they’re too distracting.

Studies suggest that it takes 23 minutes to regain focus after being distracted. And if you’re only revising for an hour with a break in between the second half won’t count for much.

Instead, consider reading a book or taking a walk around the block. This will allow your brain some downtime without it being too hard to get back into revision.

Staying Motivated

Sometimes we might lose sight of why we’re revising which causes us to lose momentum or stop completely.

When you lack motivation we encourage you to reflect on why you’re studying and what you’ll gain from your qualification. Remind yourself how far you’ve come and give yourself credit for all the work you’ve put in so far.

It also helps to set yourself short term goals when you’re feeling overwhelmed. Instead of focusing on the bigger picture just take one step at a time.

For example, setting goals such as:

  • Writing out 10 key words
  • Reading back two pages of notes
  • Watching one video
  • Finishing a page of an essay

Whatever you can manage at the time is still progress and will help build your confidence back.  You’ll be able to see how these little tasks have added up and got you a lot closer to your goal.

Revision Techniques

When revising we suggest you look at a range of different techniques to improve your retention of knowledge. The more varied your revision is, the more engaged you’ll be with your learning.

Studying may not be the most exciting thing in the world, but it doesn’t have to drag. You should enjoy your learning experience, and it is possible to do.

When revising try to include the following:

  • Flash cards
  • Pop quizzes
  • Post-it notes around your house
  • Mind maps
  • Mock exams
  • Colour coding
  • ‘Cornell’ notetaking method
  • ‘Sketch’ notetaking method

By having a range of different ways to revise you’re less likely to feel bored whilst revising.

You’re in control of your revision so you can experiment and find what works for you. If you try something and it doesn’t work out that’s ok just change it up next time.



Whatever GCSE you’re considering resitting learndirect can help you realise your full potential.

learndirect is one of the UK’s leading online course providers. We offer a broad range of online GCSEs and A Level courses.

All our online courses have flexible payment options and a qualified tutor to guide your learning. They’ll provide constructive feedback to help you prepare for your exams and any extra assistance where needed.

To learn more about how to prepare for your online learning experience visit our blog.

If you’re ready to get back into education then get in touch today or enrol online below.

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