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Last-Minute GCSE Math Preparation Tips

Oct 15, 2015

Recently, Hannah’s sweets took GCSE aspirants by surprise.

After months of preparing and fretting over the curriculum, students worldwide were ready to take on any question that GCSE (General Certificate of Secondary Examination), 2015 had to offer. Little did they know that Math would floor them with a certain question – the Hannah problem, to be exact.

The tricky question was nestled in the Algebra section, ensconced in innocence. It was a probability question with an equation to be proved. A trick that got the better of most students. And they took to social media to vent their frustration. Quickly, the topic started trending on Twitter with online petitions being set requesting the board to be lenient while marking the papers.

If you are wondering about the question in concern, then here’s the question with the complete solution.

With the storm that Hannah’s sweets managed to cook up, the scare surrounding Mathematics increased a considerable amount.

With questions getting tough, it is time to forge solid preparation strategies and load up on the Mathematics skills to

the Math paper for the GCSE can quickly become a nightmare if you do not prepare well for it. This article lists a few effective last-minute preparation tips for GCSE Math.

ace the GCSE. Read on to find out more.

More About GCSE

GCSE, the national curriculum of UK, is one of the most prestigious and recognized educational systems. It is designed to assess the learning of students up to the age of 16. The primary subjects that it covers are:

  • English
  • Mathematics
  • Science

In addition to these compulsory subjects, students can take up to 7 more subjects according to their strengths and career plans

the Math paper for the GCSE can quickly become a nightmare if you do not prepare well for it. This article lists a few effective last-minute preparation tips for GCSE Math.

GCSE results matter immensely in deciding your future career. Universities take GCSE results quite seriously. Also, a minimum of C-grade is absolutely essential to make it to many graduate programmes including healthcare and teaching. Therefore, it is important to prepare well and prepare ahead to ace the exam.

Learn more about GCSE in the following video.

GCSE Math Syllabus

The board has set the GCSE Math syllabus in a way that caters to the rising standards of education. The bar has been set high and the GCSE curriculum attempts to help students meet the expectations with a coherent and worthwhile approach.

The GCSE Math syllabus covers the following topics in details.

GCSE Math Syllabus

1.  Number
→ Structure and calculation
→ Measures and accuracy
→ Fractions, decimals and percentages

2.  Algebra
→ Notation, vocabulary and manipulation
→ Graphs
→ Solving equations and inequalities
→ Sequences

3.  Ratio, proportion and rates of change

4.  Geometry and measures
→ Mensuration and calculation
→ Properties and constructions
→ Vectors

5.  Probability

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6.  Statistics

The learning outcomes expected of students appearing for the GCSE Math exam are as follow:

  • Acquiring and applying mathematical methods for solving problems.
  • Developing skills and knowledge of mathematical techniques and concepts
  • Reasoning and drawing inferences mathematically
  • Communicating and interpreting mathematical information in forms that are appropriate for various contexts

The primary goal of the GCSE Math curriculum is to provide a strong mathematical foundation to students. It helps students understand how mathematical formulas can be applied to solve real world problems.

Preparation Strategies for GCSE Mathematics

When the results of this year’s GCSE were announced, Haya Al Ameri, a student at Al Yasmina School, Abu Dhabi was on a holiday. She hadn’t planned on checking her results until she returned. But the universe had something else planned for her.

The school called her up, excited, with the news of her results. She had scored A* in all 11 GCSE subjects. “This is surreal”, she said, “Everyone believed in my abilities except for myself, so seeing that reflected in my results is an amazing feeling.”

Now that is quite a victory, isn’t it? Just as important as preparing for your chosen subjects is, it is equally crucial to study well for the subject, Math. Only then will you be able to make the next headline like Haya Al Ameri.

Following is a lowdown on the strategies that will help you prepare for GCSE Math.

GCSE Math

1.  Get Acquainted With the Pattern of the Examination

While the syllabus remains as discussed, a new grading system has replaced the former. The previous A* to U grading system has been taken over by the 9-1 system. 9 is the highest grade that any candidate can obtain. The grading for Mathematics has been split into two separate groups:

  • Foundation tier will cover grades between 1 to 5
  • Higher tier will cover grades between 4 to 9

The teaching pattern has been reformed accordingly since the month of June, and the assessment in accordance with the 9-1 system will commence from June, 2017. Therefore, you would need to prepare accordingly.

The Math exam for GCSE covers two kinds of papers:

  • Calculator paper
  • Non-calculator paper

For the calculator paper, the questions will be a bit tough. They can include complex problems from trigonometry, shape/area and so on. The non-calculator paper can comprise questions involving equation-solving and then gradually move on to more complex questions pertaining to graph and probability.


graph and probability

2.  Solve Previous Years’ Question Papers

Get hold of some of the previous years’ questions and self-assess your preparation. You can treat it as a mock test and time yourself. This would help you in:

  • locating the weak spots in your preparation
  • familiarizing yourself with the paper pattern and difficulty level
  • getting an idea about the actual examination
  • managing time efficiently
  • boosting your confidence

In addition, you would also find a number of practice questions on the Internet that are based on exam pattern of GCSE. Here are a few valuable tips on the mathematical concepts covered in the GCSE curriculum.

Recommended Read: Top Websites for GCSE Preparation

3.  Practise as Much as You Can

Mathematics is one of those subjects that can never be crammed into your head. It is primarily based on comprehension and application. So it is no use hitting the memorizing road when it comes to Mathematics. What can actually make your job easier is ample practice. The more you practise solving the problems, the better you will get at enhancing your speed.

As you move along your syllabus, you will encounter problems that are quite tough and take a lot of time to solve. My suggestion is, tend to the difficult problems first while practising. It is better to find yourself grappling through tough problems while you are practising than facing those in the exam hall for the first time. Once you get accustomed to solving these problems, the steps will quickly come to you while you are writing the actual exam.

When you are done tackling these questions, the rest of the problems will seem easier than you had imagined.

Practise as Much as You Can

4.  Create a Revision Schedule

The first thought that pops up in our heads when we decide to start revising is: which chapter to revise first? Is it going to be statistics? Or, mensuration? Wait, probability needs some attention too. And then the mayhem begins.

Well, you do not have to succumb to this confusion anymore. Creating a revision timetable will do away with this problem. Here’s what you can do:

Devote a couple of hours to sift through your textbook and find out which topic needs to be picked up for revision the most. Repeat this to identify the next one. Keep repeating till you have covered the entire syllabus. Spread out your calendar and assign revision topics for each date in order of importance. Some topics can take more than a single day for revising. Keep enough time for those.

Once that is done, you will not only have your revision calendar ready, but also your mental peace in place.

That said, you must try your best to finish revising every topic within the time assigned for it.

5.  Avoid Distractions

The worst thing about distractions, especially when it comes to last-minute exam preparations, is that they tend to multiply rapidly. One tiny peek at the football match and you will be hooked. Result? Your revision strategy will climb right out the window.

Here’s what you can do to avoid such a situation:

  • Minimize the usage of electronic media as much as possible unless you are using them for your exam preparation
  • Stick to your timetable.
  • Read books or newspapers when you decide to award yourself breaks.

The following video lists a few more tips to help you ace the exam.

In addition to following these, you must also practise self-discipline to not stray from the routine you have planned. This way, you will be consciously shutting out all the windows that might serve to be an inlet for any kind of distraction.

That being said, do not let the preparation stress push your panic buttons. Staying calm will help you concentrate. If your concept is clear, nothing can stop you from scoring well in the GCSE. Stick to a healthy diet and get lots of sleep. Your healthy self will add to your competency a good deal.

Here’s a parting tip: if you find yourself struggling with the tough problems in the exam, work through the ones that you find easy. This will calm you down considerably.

Would you like to add any other GCSE Math preparation tips to this list? Share those with us in the comments section below. We would love to hear from you.

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