How to choose the best GCSE and A level Easter Revision courses
Students who are facing GCSE, AS or A level examinations in the summer might decide to attend an Easter Revision course to give their preparations an initial boost. In this article, we will explore the reasons why students might decide to attend Easter Revision courses as well as our tips on what to look for to help you choose a provider from the extensive (and sometimes quite baffling) list of options available. We will answer questions such as:
- What is Easter Revision?
- What are the advantages of taking an Easter Revision course?
- What should I consider when choosing an Easter Revision course?
- How are MPW’s Easter Revision courses organised?
"I really believe that my Easter Revision course is the reason I have ended up at my first choice university studying a course I am excited to begin."
Economics student, MPW Cambridge
Let’s start with the basics. Easter Revision is the opportunity to revise under the supervision of a tutor, who should help you brush up on key topic areas and review what you need to know for your impending GCSE, AS or A level examinations that summer. It is unlikely that you will find an Easter Revision course if your examinations are not imminent. For example, if you are in year 10 and not taking any GCSEs early but still would like the opportunity to revisit what you have covered over the last year then private tutoring is probably your best option.
Easter Revision courses have a purpose in common: to improve results. All students attending an Easter course do so in the hope that this will benefit their exam performance. This will also benefit their UCAS applications, either by helping students to achieve the GCSE grades necessary to impress top flight universities or by supporting A level students in meeting conditional offers. The manner in which revision courses achieve this, however, varies enormously from provider to provider. Some courses are residential, for example, whereas others run as a day school. The length of time spent on each subject can be anything from a few hours to a week or more. Some courses are organised so that students study in groups while others are taught individually. The extensive range of options available means that it is likely that you will be able to find an Easter Revision course tailored to your needs.
“It was a brilliant experience. Adam was an excellent tutor who made the subject enjoyable to revise. I really enjoyed it!”
Biology student, MPW Birmingham
In many cases, attending an Easter Revision course can make the difference of an entire grade or more for students preparing to sit their exams. Easter Revision courses can help students in a number of ways:
It is no secret that a good Easter Revision course is hard work. At MPW, many of our courses are 20 hours long which means that students can expect to be in school from 9am-1pm or 2pm-6pm every day for a week preparing for a single subject. Even the most well-organised students will struggle to replicate this intensity when working independently. Furthermore, setting a precedent of hard work early on means that when students return to school for the summer term, they simply need to maintain momentum for the final month or two before putting in their best performance for the exam.
“I have just finished a two-week Easter Revision course at MPW and am delighted to say that they have raised my grades up from D's to A's – I have found the courses to be extremely helpful and am extremely impressed by the school's standard of teaching and its facilities.”
Chemistry and Maths student, MPW London
Address individual concerns
Easter Revision courses can offer a bespoke approach to learning tailored towards an individual’s specific needs. If there are any syllabus areas that you found difficult when they were first covered in class, Easter Revision gives you the opportunity to revisit these in more detail and refresh your knowledge. Groups are usually small, enabling teachers to spend time with each student to provide clarification and further explanation on different topics. At MPW, we send a pre-course questionnaire to every Easter Revision student with a view to understanding more about their learning so far, any gaps in their knowledge and any educational needs, such as dyslexia. Providing this information in advance enables our tutors to prepare their lessons accordingly and ensure that the course is personalised and relevant to every student.
Examination technique and past paper practice
As well as what to learn for the exam, a good Easter Revision course will cover how to take it. It is not unusual for students to spend time working hard to memorise key themes only to find that they underperform when it comes to the exam itself. Exam technique is often to blame in this scenario. It is important that students are familiar with the keywords that examiners are looking for, can recognise approximately how long they should spend on each section and appreciate the difference in the type of answer required for a five-mark or a twenty-mark question. This will help students to focus the knowledge that they have and maximise their grade potential. Easter Revision often encompasses this, helping students to improve their grades.
"I found the course to be helpful not only in the theoretical aspect of the exam, but also the examination technique was invaluable. The class size of 6 made for a much more personal style of teaching"
Physics student, MPW London
There are a huge number of Easter Revision courses on the market and trying to choose between providers can often be overwhelming. There are a number of key questions that you can use to narrow down your options, however.
Which subjects are offered, and is it board-specific?
Although it sounds obvious, make sure that the Easter Revision courses you are looking at match what you have been doing at school so far, which might require you to double check with your teacher. For example, at MPW we offer three different science courses at I/GCSE each with significantly different content: IGCSE Biology, Chemistry and Physics; IGCSE Double Award Science; AQA Additional Science. It is important to get this right to ensure that you spend your time learning only what is relevant to you. Note also that while there is not a great amount of variation between exam board specifications in year 11 (so board-specific groups are not necessary at this level), there is a difference between a GCSE and an IGCSE syllabus so ensure that the courses you are considering cater for your requirements exactly.
At A level there is more variation between specifications on different exam boards than at GCSE. It is a good idea therefore to look for a board-specific course when you reach A level. Examination papers and question styles also differ between boards, and the exam practice section of an Easter Revision course is most effective when all of the students in a group are working towards the same specification.
What size is the group?
Easter Revision is designed to be a rigorous preparation process, and classes are more intensive than they would usually be throughout the rest of the year. For this reason, the best courses will be taught in small groups, enabling discussion and group learning where appropriate but also allowing the tutor to work with each student individually. When researching Easter Revision courses, it is worth asking for clarity on the maximum class size, as some providers will quote an average number of students when asked about group size. At MPW our maximum class size at Easter Revision is nine.
Do the courses cover examination technique as well as syllabus content?
As we have mentioned before, an in-depth knowledge of core topics is very important for success at GCSE and A level but this must be complemented by the ability to answer the questions correctly in the examination. It is very important in most subjects to use the correct terminology and keywords, for example, which can lead to higher grades. Easter Revision is a chance to practise this and also to go through some model answers to give students an idea of what to aspire to.
Does the course provider offer boarding facilities?
As well as fulfilling your requirements in terms of syllabus coverage/examination preparation, the course needs to work on a practical level. Some students, for example those at boarding schools who have returned to the family home for the holidays, might choose to attend a day school. Other students might prefer to be away from the distractions of home life and decide that a residential course would be better suited to their needs. It is important to consider how you feel you will work best and choose a course that aligns with these requirements.
At MPW, we have over 30 years’ experience in running Easter Revision courses and have been described by The Telegraph as “quasi-legendary” with a “very sophisticated set-up”. Students joining us for one (or all) of the three weeks of Easter Revision can expect to be taught by experienced tutors in focussed groups of no more than nine students. Everything is tailoredto the individual and our pre-course questionnaire draws our attention to any particular areas of strength or weakness for each student, enabling our teaching to address this over the duration of the course.
Some lesson time will be allocated to covering examination technique and when students leave us, they take with them a pack of board-specific past papers and mark schemes, allowing them to continue their practice in the weeks between the end of the course and the examination. To further assist them, at the end of the course reports are written for each student outlining their progress and recommending a focus for further study afterwards.
For more information
Please click visit our Easter Revision page for more information about MPW’s courses or contact us directly to discuss your requirements with one of our dedicated Course Directors.
Some students may not be certain whether Easter Revision is for them. Our article Why are the Easter Revision courses so popular? Are the courses right for you? explores the advantages and disadvantages of attending a course or revising alone.