Nine tips to help you pass your maths GCSE
Is your child preparing for their maths GCSE? Here are nine tips you can share with them to help them pass their exam.
Along with science and English, GCSE maths is one of the three core subjects on the national curriculum in the UK. All students aged 14 to 16 must sit their GCSE maths exams as part of their secondary school education.
Mathematics plays an essential role in many fields, for example, engineering, finance, medicine, natural sciences, social sciences and computer science. This means that if you wish to pursue a career in any of these areas, you will need to have an excellent understanding of maths.
Many other career paths also require you to have a GCSE in maths, and with the government planning to deny student loans to those without their English and maths GCSEs, passing is essential if you want to continue your education at university.
What are some tips for passing your maths GCSE?
You’ll have a better chance of passing your maths GCSE if you know what to expect, you start revising early, you use a range of revision techniques and you practice doing test papers.
It’s also recommended that you come to the exam prepared, write neatly and only write the answer if you’re sure it’s correct, as well as look after yourself and not be afraid to ask for help in areas you’re not confident in.
In this article, we’ll explain these tips in more detail and give an indication of how hard it is to pass your maths GCSE.
How hard is it to pass GCSE maths?
Some of the maths topics students often struggle with include finding highest common factors, converting decimals to fractions, solving quadratic equations, fractional indices and rationalising denominators.
But although many students find maths difficult, preparation, repetition and practice can help you excel. Plus, there are plenty of tools and resources available on the internet, such as online calculators that give step-by-step instructions on how complex calculations are done and GCSE maths apps, which you can download from Google Play and the Apple App Store.
Nine tips to help you pass GCSE maths
Here are nine tips to help you pass your maths GCSE.
1) Know what to expect
If you don’t know what your GCSE maths exam entails, you won’t know how to pass. Understanding what’s involved will guide you in studying and preparing for the exam.
GCSE maths is designed to equip you with the knowledge needed to:
- Understand mathematical methods and concepts
- Apply standard mathematical techniques to solve problems
- Interpret, reason and draw conclusions mathematically
- Communicate mathematical information in different ways, based on the information and context given
The exam will test you on the following topics: Algebra, geometry and measures, numbers, probability, proportion, ratio and exchange rates and statistics.
2) Start revising early
Instead of cramming your revision into the last few weeks leading up to the exam, draw up a timetable as soon as possible and start revising early. This will ensure you have enough time to cover each of the key topics and allow you to revisit anything you’re struggling with.
Remember that quality revision isn’t just reading through your notes — you should be writing cue cards, answering practice questions and having discussions with others to ensure you fully understand the material.
The best way to remember what you’ve learnt is to work in 30-minute sessions, taking breaks in between sessions so your brain has a chance to rest and get ready to absorb more information.
It’s important to stay on track by sticking to your plan and not missing any sessions.
3) Use a range of revision techniques
Using a variety of revision techniques can help with motivation and make the process much more enjoyable.
Some of the different types of revision techniques include:
- Cue cards — Also known as flashcards, these are helpful for condensing lengthy topics into bite-sized chunks of information. If you’re lacking motivation, simply select a cue card and see how much you can remember about a topic, just by reading the keywords and phrases written on the card.
- Timed questions — Give yourself a certain amount of time to answer practice questions. This will help improve your time-management skills.
- Group sessions — Revising with others is a great way to make sure you fully understand the material, stay on track and address any gaps in your knowledge.
4) Practice doing test papers
To give you an idea of the question formats and which topics are most likely to be covered in the exams, have a go at some exam papers from previous years.
Your teacher should be able to find these for you, but you can also source them online.
Once you’ve completed them, ask a teacher to mark them for you, so you can identify which areas you’re confident in and those you need to work on.
Practice papers can also help with nerves, as you’ll have more of an idea of what to expect in the actual exam.
5) Come to the exam prepared
When it’s finally time to sit your maths GCSE exam, make sure you arrive at the examination room prepared.
At the beginning of the exam, write down any formula or equation you’re worried about forgetting on a separate piece of paper. This will ensure you don’t fail a question because you’ve forgotten a formula.
It’s also a good idea to bring the calculator you used in your revision, so you don’t have to worry about learning the functions of one you’re not familiar with, during the exam.
6) Write neatly
Because examiners have hundreds of papers to mark, they don’t have the time to try to decipher illegible work. Make sure you write neatly, so they’re not tempted to just give you a cursory mark and move on.
And, if you think you’ve got something wrong, cross it out with a single line rather than scribbling all over it. This is because you can still get marks for crossed-out work that’s actually correct.
7) Be careful with your answers
This might sound obvious, but you could lose marks for writing the wrong answer. Say you’ve tried two methods and you’re not sure which is correct, leave the answer line blank, because if you don’t, the examiner will ignore the method that doesn’t lead to that answer. Whereas, if you don’t put an answer on the answer line, they’ll mark both methods.
8) Look after yourself
Exam time is stressful, so it’s important to look after yourself.
While studying hard will pay off, you should make sure you take regular breaks and get enough sleep. This will make it more likely that what you’ve learned will stick in your brain.
A healthy diet of brain food like leafy greens and oily fish will also help with your revision, and bringing bottled water into the exam room will ensure you stay hydrated during the exam.
9) Ask for help
Don’t be afraid to ask for help and support in any areas you’re not confident in.
You may feel shy about asking questions in class but bear in mind that there’s no such thing as a stupid question and a good teacher will encourage their students to ask as many questions as possible.
Preparation, repetition and practice can help you pass your maths GCSE
GCSE maths is one of the three core subjects on the national curriculum in the UK, and all students aged 14 to 16 must sit their GCSE maths exam as part of their secondary school education.
Many career paths require you to have a GCSE in maths, and if you want to continue your education at university, passing is essential, as the government plans to deny student loans to those without their English and maths GCSEs.
Some of the maths topics students often struggle with include lowest common multiples and highest common factors, converting decimals to fractions, solving quadratic equations, fractional indices and rationalising denominators.
But although many students find maths difficult, preparation, repetition and practice can help you excel in the subject.
Here are nine tips for passing your maths GCSE:
- Know what to expect
- Start revising early
- Use a range of revision techniques
- Practice doing test papers
- Come to the exam prepared
- Write neatly
- Only write the answer if you’re sure it’s correct
- Look after yourself
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help in areas you’re not confident in
Photo by Jeswin Thomas