Test anxiety is a real phenomenon.
You might be the aptest student in your entire class – indeed, your entire school but, when confronted with a blank exam paper, all of the practice questions you laboured over so assiduously fade from memory.
Besides having a solid exam technique to draw on, the best way to quell the stress of GCSE exams is to know your material cold. The best way to get there is to follow study guides, review religiously and take practice exams.
Fortunately for us, resources, both digital and actual abound. But then, the quandary: of all the resources available for exam review, which are the best?
That’s what your Superprof endeavours to uncover today.
Resources for Exam Review
As digital natives – people who have never lived in a world without personal electronic devices, your thoughts might automatically turn to the vast trove of information available online.
No one could blame you; there is indeed a wealth of resources for exam review online. We’ll cover those in our next segment. First, we urge you to consider a few ‘low-tech’ resources.
They don’t so much subvert online resources as support them. They were available long before the Internet became the treasure house that it is; today, these resources parallel the digital world in accommodation and dissemination of information.
Topping that list must inevitably be your local library.
Libraries are struggling these days; lower traffic and less money mean that our local book repositories run a little on the lean side. Still, you won’t find just books there but homework help labs, computer workstations with an Internet connection and free WIFI throughout the facility.
Some libraries feature study rooms with conference tables and seating throughout while others have comfortable benches set up among the stacks. You can also find extracurricular activities at your local library; anything from storytelling to special exhibits.
It should come as no surprise that tutors often select their local libraries to meet with their students.
Tutors! They are the ultimate exam prep resource!
While most tutors specialise in a certain field or subject such as English literature or biology, others dedicate themselves exclusively to test prep: exam strategies, giving practice exams and helping with past paper review.
Superprof has hundreds of tutors specialising in exam preparation throughout the UK.
One valuable resource often overlooked is your teachers.
Few would be more knowledgeable of academic subjects you might test in and none know better what to expect of school-leaving exams. Nobody is better-qualified to guide your studies; after all, it is a teacher’s job to deliver knowledge… right?
You might ask your tutor, librarian or teacher if they know of any study groups you could join. You could also ask them for tips on how to revise...
If no study groups come to mind, you might ask their help to set up a study group; your peers being another invaluable resource.
Resources You Create
Among the best resources you could have for exam revision is a revision timetable.
You won’t find timetables at the library or even online; they are a time management resource you must create yourself – after all, nobody but you knows where your obligations and priorities lie.
Such a revision timetable will allow you to plan study time for your chosen A-Level or GCSE subjects according to your specific needs. In fact, careening toward your exams without a firm schedule of studies in place is a recipe for disaster!
Another excellent and oft-overlooked resource is flashcards.
Flashcards are portable, flexible and, most importantly, made by you. You would write only the most salient information on these resilient cards that you can then flip through in idle moments, creating a mini-review session.
Most importantly, the act of writing itself helps to cement it in our brains.
The above statement proves that writing by hand is another resource available to you for exam preparation – after all, you will hand-write your exams; you may as well get as much practice as you can.
If you like the idea of flashcards but have little time for writing them out by hand, you might turn to Quizlet; an online application that allows you to make digital flashcards and offers various ways to engage with the study materials you created.
You might, for instance, play games or take a practice test that the application creates for you based on the information you input.
Creating a Quizlet account is free – you can set up your own study materials but first, you might want to check if there isn’t already a ‘quizlet’ created for the material you need to study.
Now that we’ve crossed over to the digital realm, let’s take a look at what websites are available for your exam review.
Exam Review Websites
Here, Digital Natives, is where the proverbial rubber meets the road.
You might have had a Student Room account since you were first allowed to get online. There, you might have already compared notes with other students about the best places to find past exam papers and marking schemes.
At the end of this article, we’ll reveal students’ picks for best review websites.
One of the most helpful resources you could have for exam prep is past papers, especially for maths revision, GCSE Physics or your Biology exam.
By reviewing past papers in maths, for example, you can see how exam boards essentially repeat exam questions by wording them differently.
Reviewing past papers will also acquaint you with questions you’ve not encountered before during your studies.
You may find copies of past papers printed out at your local library – another reason it is a great resource, or in your classes. If, for some reason, none are available to you, you could address yourself to the relevant exam board’s website.
Plenty of other sites offer a selection of past papers; Revision World is just such a one. And, while nobody could criticise anyone’s effort to lend a helping hand; still, the question persists: why not go to the source?
The benefit of getting past papers from the awarding body’s website is that you will have the latest information available as well as papers going back a few years.
Furthermore, considering that exams are constantly tweaked or outright rewritten, you will likely find ‘specimen papers’ - what the new exams will look like.
In this table, we’ve listed the top exam review websites, along other sites deemed particularly helpful for exam review.
Exam Review Websites
|Resource Name||Web Address||What you will find||For which levels?|
|AQA||www.aqa.org.uk||Past papers and specimen papers, marking schemes.||GCSE|
AS and A-Levels
|EdExcel||https://qualifications.pearson.com/en/home.html||Past papers, marking schemes and examiner reports||GCSE and Int'l GCSE|
A-Level and Int'l A-Levels
|OCR||www.ocr.org.uk||Past papers and marking schemes||GCSE|
AS and A-Levels
|WJEC/CBAC||www.wjec.co.uk||Past papers and marking schemes||GCSE|
AS and A-Level
|CCEA||https://ccea.org.uk||Past papers and marking schemes; timetables||GCE and GCSE|
|Eduquas||https://eduqas.co.uk||Past papers and marking schemes||GCSE |
AS and A-Level
|BBC Bitesize||www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize||Revision materials||Lower Key Stages and GCSE|
|Revision World||https://revisionworld.com||Tools, video tutorials, study help and links to other websites||GCSE |
|Study-Wise||https://studywise.co.uk||A list of links to available online resources||GCSE|
AS and A-Level
Applications for Exam Review
Who needs a cumbersome website when you could just download an app or two?
Phones have become handheld computers and they appeal particularly to younger demographics. In fact, a recent study reveals that kids are losing sleep to their electronic devices in record numbers.
If that is you, you might need to learn about the importance of sleep with regard to your exams.
If you find using an app on your phone more convenient than logging on to a computer and accessing a succession of webpages, you should check out these apps:
- iMindMap: mind maps are diagrams to organise information visually; an excellent review technique
- There is a version for Android systems, too!
- GCSE Maths (iOS): a fun, interactive way to play with maths ahead of your exam
- Remember the Milk (iOS and Android): set your day’s review schedule while you’re on the go and sync with your computer once you get home. It will send reminders for study time, too.
- Revision App (iOS and Android): a million revision notes, flashcards and quizzes – what’s not to love?
All of these apps are free to download and use; others, such as the Oxford A-Z of Grammar and Punctuation costs £8.50 but could be worth every penny if either of those aspects of English is difficult for you.
Students Chime In
As you’ve likely gathered from this exposé, revision guides abound – online, real-time and through the help of teachers and tutors. Which are the best?
GCSE students have their favs.
Mr Bruff, specialising in GCSE English Language, has a YouTube channel that covers the AQA exam. On his website, you will find e-books to complement them.
Free Science Lessons covers GCSE Biology and Physics; it even goes into Chemistry revision, all in video, print and downloadable book (the latter two for a fee). The material is broken into ‘papers’ but does not indicate which awarding body its information targets.
If physics is particularly worrisome to you, Gorilla Physics covers that subject in exquisite detail.
Seneca Learning is an all-around study platform that addresses all levels from KS2 through A-Levels. Their revision guides are organised by subject and they ‘cover’ both AQA and Edexcel exams.
Primrose Kitten is an unlikely name for a GCSE Science review site; they also have a substantial collection of maths review videos.
Of all subjects one could test in, Maths seems to be particularly troublesome. Students praise Dr Frost Maths as a reliable revision guide, as well as Maths Watch.
What if you’re sitting the International Baccalaureate? Most of these sites have practice papers for you, too.
With all of these resources, you must surely itch to get on with your studies… but first, take the time to read up on other effective revision techniques.