Tips for GCSE and IGCSE Exam Revision

9 January, 2020

How to get the best results from your revision for your GCSE and IGSCE exams

Plan – Practise – Prepare – Perform

Daryl Barker, Sherborne International’s Director of Short Courses, gives his top tips for exam success.


  • Don’t let stress have a chance to begin to build up.
    Start early, go way back for months before your exams. Plan out your route to the testing period. Set aside a little time each week from the September onwards. Go back and review something you did last year or last month. Find something relevant online from recognised study sites or encyclopedias. Make a note of relevant points.
  • Use the year to find and use reputable study notes or exam revision sites, such as StudyWise and BBC BiteSize or listen to podcasts in your subjects like History or Science.
  • Know your exam board and check their website for guidance and resources, such as Cambridge IGCSE.
  • There are plenty of apps you can use. For example, Gojimo and Seneca Learn cover IGCSE material from different boards and can help with learning.


  • No-one wins gold without regular rigorous training. Top performers all practise, practise, practise. It’s no different for students. The more you practise, the more comfortable you are in what you are doing, the more confident you feel in doing it and, most importantly, the better you will perform.
  • You will have the opportunity to practise taking past papers under exam conditions (mocks) – usually the December or January before the real thing. Revise for them and do your best. Ignore them and you have no valid test of how well you can do, no idea of where you need to improve.
  • Practise at home – set yourself a timed test under exam conditions and see how well you can do. This way the real exam will seem so familiar to you you’ll feel totally at home.
  • Get feedback every opportunity you can. Through the year, maybe once or twice a month, find a question or two from past papers, or study notes online, or in textbooks, write out your own answers and then ask your teachers if they can look at them for you to give you a grade and some advice on how to improve.
  • Learn the answers that get top marks for the exam. Learn from those with lower marks how to get top marks and then learn those for the exam.
  • Practise yourself and check against study notes from school, online or through a revision app.


  • Failing to prepare is preparing to fail. Bust the stress by being prepared.
  • Keep your notes organised through the year for easy review and understanding when you come to revise.
  • Around six weeks before your exams, make a detailed schedule of what to revise when. And stick to it!
  • Factor in regular breaks while revising. Study for 45 minutes and take a 15-minute break. Get some physical exercise in your breaks. Move around and get outside. Moving your body stimulates your brain.
  • Put your phone and other distractions away while studying. You can even plant trees while you stay away from your phone and study (look for the Forest app).
  • Stick to your schedule and focus. You will know what works best for you but aim at no more than five hours of study a day, with some days off (at least one a week). Schedule several subjects for each day to keep variety. Make sure you get plenty of sleep. Sleep reinforces, refreshes and stimulates the brain.
  • Research suggests that you will remember most by reviewing material three times – a week or two apart. And you’ll remember more by actively using rather than just recognising material you’ve seen before. So use plenty of quizzes, tests and questions, and make notes of key points.
  • Pamper yourself. Give yourself rewards or treats for genuinely achieved steps on the way. For example, get something to eat, talk with someone, get outside, watch a favourite programme you’ve saved up, listen your favourite music, play a game (remember to keep within scheduled time frames).
  • You may be able to attend an organised exam revision course – at your school, or choose one of the many courses advertised for the Easter holidays – where you can focus on what you need, have structured in-depth revision and targeted teaching, sample papers given under exam conditions and model answers to learn from, with a specialist teacher always available.
  • If you join a course, it is important to ensure it will meet your needs and preferences for learning. Check the course will cover the content and skills you will need for your specific syllabus and the course options you are taking. Some revision courses cover general points only while others target particular syllabuses.
  • You can choose from a personalised individual course or join a small group revising for a listed syllabus.
  • Whichever type you go for, you will have interactive, engaged learning rather than just reviewing familiar looking material on your own, with specialists to give you advice and explanations.


  • Don’t want to give up your Easter holidays? You’ll need to devote time to study anyway to be successful. And time spent now will be time well spent and give you the best chance of performing successfully.
  • There’s plenty of freedom and fun to look forward to in the lovely long summer holidays as well as a set of results that made it worthwhile. And they’re yours forever!

So, stress suitably busted, here’s hoping for the results you want. Wishing you all the best and good luck.


  • Plan
  • Practise
  • Prepare
  • Perform

Our course options

Learn more about studying at Sherborne International:

Spring Courses 2020

There are two spring course options at Sherborne International:

Main Term 2020

There are a number of main term options at Sherborne International – depending on age:

Summer Courses 2020

There are four summer school options at Sherborne International:

Further information about Sherborne International

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