11 October 2013

Facing GCSE retakes?

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It's tough picking yourself up off the floor when you feel crushed by disappointment, especially when you thought you'd pass. It somehow feels worse when parents and teachers remind you that you didn't achieve the expected grade.

Failing at something first time is an experience we all go through. Even your teachers! But it doesn't make you a failure... Far from it. Instead of feeling beaten by it, dust yourself down and go back to the finishing straight.

After all, there's no need to go back to the start. All you need to do is tweak your technique, and practise... Here's some advice that we often give students in the same boat as you. 

 Turn a weakness into a strength

If you know where you went wrong in your exam, or know what your weakness is, then focus on that first. Look at your marked exam paper. (if you've sent for it) Where do your marks dip? Practise exam questions. You can usually access previous exams online if you search for your syllabus.

Break down an exam paper into sections

To revise effectively, look at the different units or sections you need to master. For instance, if you are retaking English Language, there are two elements to work on. Reading analysis, and writing technique. 

If you know you're brilliant at argumentative writing, focus instead on those styles which you struggle with. Similarly, if you find it hard to analyse language learn what examiners are looking for. For a C grade, you must always write about how writers create effects. Just feature spotting won't improve your grade.

To revise effectively, keep revisiting difficult concepts. Write pointers on sticky notes. Do short, intense bursts of revision rather than hours of unproductive time-wasting. 

Book a tutor to speed up progress

Many students find home tuition invaluable when retaking. A specialist tutor can iron out all those grey areas you struggle with, and crucially, help you with timekeeping.

There's no point spending half an hour on a question if you only have 15 minutes time for it in the exam itself. Be strict with yourself. Use a kitchen timer - and no sneaking onto facebook. 

Nothing is ever plain sailing in life. After all, exams are a test of your nerve and technique as much as your ability. 

It might feel like a mountain to climb now, but if you break it down into steps you'll get there! Good luck... And remember, if you need some help, call us, especially if you're in Kent or East Sussex. 

Last modified on 02 September 2015
Nikki de Villiers

Nikki de Villiers - Lemon Tree senior tutor, owner and English/SEN specialist. For the best private tuition in Surrey and West Sussex...

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