Updated: Sep 15, 2022
Lots of colleges and universities require prospective students to have a Maths GCSE in order to be eligible for their programmes. The specific grade will depend on the course your child is interested in but, at the very least, most will require a pass grade. For many children, achieving a pass or their target maths grade is easier said then done. That being said, there are simple steps your child can take to improve their Maths GCSE grades.
Revise Little and Often
Create a Revision Timetable
Master the Basics and Revise Effectively
Complete Practise or Past Papers
Refer to YouTube Tutorials
Learn from Mistakes
Consider a Tutor
1. Revise Little and Often
Your child will hear this time and time again, but revision is essential. Revision on a regular basis will help your child to learn, retain, and then execute simple and complex maths equations in their GCSE exams.
Although different revision tactics work for different people, we would advise that your child does maths revision little and often; revising for eight hours in one day is not as effective as doing one hour of revision for eight days. This is referred to as the "spacing" technique. In some studies, using spacing instead of cramming has resulted in a 10% to 30% difference in final test results. It is also much less stressful for your child to revise (space) over time.
How often and how much your child should revise is, of course, dependent on when the GCSE exam is. There is no miracle number, but it is often advised that your child should revise for 1-2 hours per day in the months leading up to their exams.
Your child should also aim to interleave if it works for them. This is where you mix up subjects and do a bit of a couple in each revision session. For example, your child could do some Maths and then some English revision in one afternoon. According to The Guardian, this helps students make links between different subjects and discriminate between different types of problems, which allows them to identify the ideal thought process for each. Interleave students also performed more than three times better than those who cram (or "block") their revision.
Creating a revision timetable will help your child fit this revision in with their school hours, extracurricular activities, and social life.
2. Create a Revision Timetable
A revision timetable allows you to cover everything you need in good time as it is broken down into manageable chunks over an achievable period of time. It also saves your child time when it comes down to the actual revision, as the topics are laid out weeks (or even months) in advance.
If your child wants to pay particular attention to maths, you can even plan a little more time towards the subject than another subject that your child feels more confident in.
Make sure your child has a list of all the topics in the exam, and that you cover these and plan when you will do each, crossing them off once you are confident, and revisiting them on a regular basis.
A revision timetable will also hold your child accountable. While it is OK for your child to take breaks or postpone a revision session if something comes up, these mini-deadlines encourage your child to stick to the schedule and be well prepared ahead of their exam.
Intensive Revision Courses
Have you considered an intensive revision course? An intensive and personalised GCSE Maths revision course with a qualified teacher will better your child's maths knowledge, skills and grades. It is the perfect place for your child to improve their current predicted GCSE grade in a short period of time.
3. Master the Basics and Revise Effectively
Before anything else, however, your child should ensure they have a good grasp of the basics. This includes times tables, good mental maths, and the ability to calculate fractions and percentages in your head. Once your child has this down, everything else can come after (and will come much easier after this).
In the same sense, make sure your child revises well. This is not calculated by the amount of time your child revises for, but how effective your child's revision is. Lots of people just read over notes as revision, but this doesn't work as it won't be remembered.
While it is essential to read notes, you should then practice questions topic by topic, marking and correcting as you go. Making revision cards with key formulas on is an excellent way to do this - you can carry them in your pocket and revise at regular intervals.
Once your child has done this, you can move on to past papers.
4. Complete Practise or Past Papers
Encourage your child to get a feel for the real thing with practise or past papers. These help your child to understand and better manage their time in the real exam, as well as practise the exam techniques they should have learnt in class. Alongside this, past papers provides students with practical insight into how the forthcoming exam paper is likely to look and the key themes or subject areas most likely to be covered. Not to mention that past papers are one of the most effective ways to improve your child's recollection.
5. Refer to YouTube Videos
If your child is more of a visual learner, YouTube is a great place to find simplified explanations of maths equations, formulas, and sequences that are essential to the Maths GCSE. Much like a practise paper, sometimes it just helps to hear it all again from the start. Our only request is that you make sure these videos are recent and relevant to your child's specific GCSE exam board, and filmed and uploaded by a qualified teacher.
6. Learn from Mistakes
If your child gets things wrong, don't let it dishearten them. Your child should see their mistakes as learning opportunities; it is better to get a question incorrect now, in the safe practise scenario that revision creates, than in the real exam where it carries more weight.
Reassurance is crucial.
7. Consider a Tutor
If your child is still struggling to wrap their head around it all, consider a maths tutor.
A good tutor will tailor their content towards your child to help them tackle and conquer the maths they struggle with — this could be based on previous exams, recent classes or homework.
Not sure on how to find and choose a tutor? Read our guide on how to choose a tutor for your child here.
At GCSE Masterclass, we use only the very best tutors. All of our staff are fully qualified, experienced teachers, who have a proven track record of high quality teaching and excellent results within their GCSE classes.
Contact us to find out more about how we can improve your child’s confidence and grades.