Why take a GCSE Easter Revision course?
It is a difficult time to be a GCSE student. The government is currently reforming GCSE qualifications and students face new exams that some educators describe as “the hardest since O-levels” (BBC, 2017). Much is written about the pressure that students face but this has never been more true than of GCSE students experiencing, what is for the vast majority, their first taste of public examinations at such a disruptive time. In many ways GCSEs set the tone for the future. Doors open and close in response to GCSE results: progression to a chosen sixth form and choice in A level subjects being the most immediate, with further-reaching implications for degree options and, ultimately, a career.
MPW has been running Easter Revision courses for more than 30 years. Our experience and aptitude in this field is second to none and there has never been a better time for students to benefit from this. Our courses combine syllabus coverage with examination technique to fully prepare students for what is to come in the summer, as well as leaving them with comprehensive revision notes that they can refer to in their own time between the end of the course and the examination. There are three key benefits to a GCSE student taking an Easter Revision course:
Having to take examinations in the first few years of an educational reform will inevitably leave students feeling somewhat disadvantaged. This is understandable but also unavoidable and the best response is for students to work hard, prepare as well as possible and give themselves the best chance for success. An Easter Revision course is the perfect way to bolster this strategy. At MPW, pre-course questionnaires are completed by all Easter Revision students giving teachers advance notice regarding areas of strength and weakness. It is, of course, impossible to cover everything from a two-year course in one week so tutors use these questionnaires to inform their teaching and ensure that the time students spend on a course is as productive as possible.
One of the key benefits of a revision course is the opportunity to revisit a difficult topic from a new perspective. All teachers will explain subjects slightly differently. That is not to say that any are wrong or right, but a new explanation can help an idea or theme to ‘fall into place’. Revision of tricky areas of the syllabus has always been an important part of an Easter Revision course and this has never been truer than now, when there is “more demanding content” (Department for Education, 2018) on the GCSE syllabus than ever before.
A second important part of an Easter Revision course is the learning of examination technique. At MPW, we frequently meet hard working students who achieve surprisingly low grades and the culprit in this situation is more often than not poor examination technique. Understanding how long to spend on each question in an exam paper, how much to write, or which key words an examiner wants to see can often be the difference between a B and an A – or more. The reforms look to place a greater importance on examinations, with coursework and controlled assessments disappearing from most subjects (Which?, 2017). Students would do well, therefore, to ensure that they are adept examination-takers and to safeguard against the possibility of working very hard but finding that poor question-answering hinders the translation of this work to success.
Many sixth forms are selective, meaning that they require students to achieve a certain set of GCSE results in order to be accepted. Most year 11s will have a good idea of what they would like to do after GCSE, and where. Many will want to remain at their current school where they are well settled, comfortable and have friends. It is important, therefore, to work hard to achieve the best results possible in order to facilitate this progress. As we have already mentioned, there are a number of reasons that a revision course can improve student performance, through greater clarity and perfected examination technique. Investing in an Easter Revision course is a good way of working towards a positive results day in August and ensuring that in year 12 a student will be at an institution they are happy to attend.
Although non-selective sixth forms do not have a prescribed list of prerequisite grades for entrants, most if not all will impose subject choice restrictions based on GCSE grades. This is in the best interest of the student as it is unlikely that a student achieving a C grade or below (or new system 4/5) will have the aptitude or existing knowledge to make a success of an A level course. This restriction is another reason that students will need to focus. They should be aiming for a B or above (new system 6) in any subject that they would like to continue with post-GCSE.
For the most part, today’s GCSE students are facing quite a challenge and it would therefore be easy to feel overwhelmed by their situation and unable to succeed. Students feeling this way are likely to descend into apathy, fail to fully apply themselves and bear out a self-fulfilling prophecy of underperformance. This is understandable, given the circumstances, but far from ideal.
It is important to remember that in this climate of difficult content and increasing numbers of exams it is still very possible for students to do well. There should be nothing holding back their effort and top students should still aspire for the best (a grade 9 which is equivalent to a higher mark than an A*). A big part of this aspiration will come from the drive to succeed which is fuelled by confidence and self-belief. Many students in the past have remarked that an Easter Revision course has given them this self-assurance and the word “confidence” comes up repeatedly in our student comments when we ask for feedback at the end of a course. At the very least, a student attending an Easter Revision course is likely to suffer less from stress and nerves in the run up to the May/June examination period than one without the weight of experience and practice behind them.
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 or any questions with one of our dedicated Course Directors.