1. Start by exploring your hobbies and interests – whether its horse-riding or learning a language, delving deeper into topics that interest you will help direct what you may want to do later on. And I say MAY – this doesn’t mean that you have to stick to that for the rest of your life but at least it will help foster an idea of what you will enjoy focussing on. Plus, it means that you’ve got a wealth of extra-curriculars to showcase when it comes to writing personal statements for sixth forms, colleges etc.
2. Stay consistent from the start – that doesn’t mean you have to stick to an extensive schedule from Year 10. But you’ll thank yourself by the time mocks roll around if you slowly build up your revision resources, as it will reduce stress levels and prevent burnout during that period. Examples may include making flashcards for definitions at the end of every topic/sub-topic or as you reach the end of a chapter, make a mind-map of the knowledge you’ve retained and compare that to your specification so you know what you need to focus on more.
3. Don’t compare yourself to everyone else – sometimes healthy competition is great (it can help raise the bar). However when other students get into your head, not only can it mess with your performance, but it can also be detrimental to your confidence and you may not believe in yourself as much. The minute I stayed in my own lane I saw my grades getting better, so work purely for your goals, not anyone else’s.
4. Around the end of September of Year 11, start exploring the next steps – some may argue that it’s too early to decide but in my experience, looking at new schools and courses earlier meant I had more time to concentrate solely on the exams, not having to worry about filling out forms or choosing whether I’d want to go down the A-Level or apprenticeship avenue. Again, you’re not tied into your decision till the following year, but it gives you time to explore options for your education.
5. Be proactive in the time off after exams – this year I had around 12 weeks off and it’s been fun: I explored London, volunteered, took part in as many Springpod virtual work experience programmes as I could. I’ve learnt that this summer off was the best time to tick off bucket list activities and to develop new skills such as learning how to write a CV because the free time was invaluable and I know it will be quite a while before I have this much again...The GCSE journey wasn’t easy but these are the tips I wish I had before I started, so hopefully, they can help you too. Good luck!
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