With only a few weeks remaining until Year 11 begin their International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) exams in earnest, our students and their families should already have started their preparation. These exams mark the first time our students will have sat standardised tests from an external exam board, and this can be both daunting and overwhelming. Fortunately, our Key Stage 4 Coordinator at BVIS HCMC Mr Stuart Reid is on hand to offer his expert advice on how students can prepare for the tests and help themselves to achieve the very best results that they can.
Create a Revision Timetable
This is a crucial step in organising your revision. A well-structured revision timetable allows students to follow a routine and systematically cover all the topics they need to revise. The first step is to list all the topics that need to be covered for each subject, and then factor them into a weekly plan. A good revision timetable allows students to work in 40-minute chunks and adds in time for breaks, exercise and downtime.
Healthy sleep is essential for optimal learning and memory function. Staying up late and cramming revision is counterproductive. Instead, students should make sure they get to bed at a time that allows 8-10 hours of sleep each night. Before turning in, students should switch off devices and leave them with parents before getting them back in the morning. It is also recommended that students do not look at devices in the hour before going to sleep, as the blue lit backscreen suppresses the production of melatonin – the chemical that helps regulate sleeping patterns.
Regular physical activity improves your muscle strength and brain power, giving you the energy you need to think clearly and come up with new ideas. A good 15-minute break from revision to move around, even just around your living room, makes your body produce more energy whilst also making you feel happier.
By using past exam papers as part of your preparation, you can find out what you already know. By the same token you also find out what you do not know well enough, or don’t know at all. What is more, they can also be used as an organisational tool to manage your time better, as you can plan according to each section of the paper. They also serve to help familiarise you with the terminology and vocabulary used in the actual exam.
Involve your parents
Parents often feel unable to help their child revise; as they either cannot understand English or have little knowledge of the subject. They can, however, help their child by asking them what they have revised and having them explain a concept. One of the best methods of learning is having to explain or teach a topic to someone else. If your child can confidently explain a theme to you, chances are they are ready for their exam.
Get in the zone
Students should not fear their exams. One of the biggest barriers to success is a fear of failure. View your exams as an opportunity to show off what you have learned and enjoy the adrenaline rush of walking into an exam hall - the same way an athlete relishes the moment before a competition starts. Do not fear stress and, instead, remember that some amounts of stress are actually beneficial - and can help push you to the optimum level of alertness for behavioural and cognitive performance.
I wish all of our students, and their families, the best of luck in their IGCSE preparation - and I am more than happy to meet with you personally to discuss in more detail how you can help your child, or help tailor a revision plan specific for them.
Mr. Stuart Reid
Key Stage 4 Coordinator