The Last Minute GCSE Revision Checklist

On Twitter, @tessmaths asks:

... which is such a good question, it would be rude not to answer. Here's what I'll be doing with my GCSE students this week, and what I'd recommend to anyone looking for last-minute revision tips.

1. Review basic arithmetic

Make sure you know how to divide and multiply. That includes whole numbers, fractions and decimals. You will need these skills in the non-calculator paper, and there's no sense in dropping easy marks.

2. Shore up on common errors

You know the kind of thing. The Mathematical Zombies. Things like saying $(x+y)^2 = x^2 + y^2$. Things like putting the upper bound as .4 rather than .5. Things like misusing Pythagoras by forgetting to square root the answer, or ending up with a leg that's longer than a hypotenuse.

I recommend getting hold of a QI-style buzzer and using it with abandon.

3. Review things that are bound to come up

There's going to be some factorising. There's going to be some tricky powers. There's going to be a difference of two squares. There's going to be a circle theorems question. Review a few of these just to make sure they're familiar.

4. Discuss where to start when you don't know where to start

This is a particular issue with wordy questions and with proofs -- so outline a few strategies for getting going. (Write down what you know. Think about what you can do with what you're given. Try a few paths, don't worry whether they're the 'right' path.)

5. Remember exam technique

Make sure you manage your time properly -- if a question is taking too long, put a star by it and come back at the end if you have time. Make sure you pick up all the cheap marks before you spend time on the expensive ones!

Make sure you write something down even if you're not sure it's right.

Don't be afraid of bluffing a proof -- if you've got something close to the right answer, write the right answer below it and pretend it's obvious.

If you have time, check your work: is the answer sensible? Does it actually work? Can you do it another way to make sure?

What are your favourite last-minute revision hacks to make sure you pick up every available mark?


Colin is a Weymouth maths tutor, author of several Maths For Dummies books and A-level maths guides. He started Flying Colours Maths in 2008. He lives with an espresso pot and nothing to prove.


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Where do you teach?

I teach in my home in Abbotsbury Road, Weymouth.

It's a 15-minute walk from Weymouth station, and it's on bus routes 3, 8 and X53. On-road parking is available nearby.

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