Tips for GCSE revision over the Easter holidays

April 3, 2019

Easter holidays are only a few days away now and it is a vital two weeks for year 11s. It’s always the time of year when many are panicking about how close the exams are and how much work they still have to do. It’s certainly not too late to make a difference to their final grades so I thought it would be useful to put together some tips to help them to use their Easter holiday the most effectively:

  • Know what you need to cover. An important document for year 11s to get to grips with over the Easter holidays is their exam specification for each of their subjects. This document (although pretty lengthy for some subjects!) is a highly useful source of information and it outlines everything students could be examined on. Sometimes revision guides can either miss out details of specific topics or include details that aren’t relevant. These specifications are different for each exam board so it’s essential that students know their exam board for each subject. These could be either AQA, Edexel or OCR. AQA and Edexel are the most common ones. They can be found here:

It’s also important that students know the different options for their GCSEs for some subjects. For example for Edexel History schools have a choice of different time periods and events. Students must know what options they have studied. A code can also be found on their GCSE exam timetable to confirm this against the exam specification.

The exam board websites also have all the past papers, mark schemes and examiner’s reports for each subject which will make it easy for students to incorporate past papers into their revision schedule.

  • Prioritise revision based on your strengths and weaknessesOnce students have established all they need to cover for each subject, the next thing to do is a ‘stocktake’ of their current knowledge. Using a traffic light system of green, orange and red against each topic within a subject, students can identify their strengths and weaknesses and then use this information to populate a revision schedule. They should cover all the red subjects first, then the orange then the green ones. This makes sure that their time is spent on the right topics rather than them spending equal amounts of time on each topic and subject.


  • Make sure you have everything you need before you start – Time is short at this stage and students will need to make sure that they are not wasting precious revision time looking around for materials, notes, revision guides and pens before they start. Spending a bit of time getting everything together at the start of the Easter holidays and preparing a ‘revision box’ that can be used for each revision session could be a way around this. Making sure notes are organised in folders and are all in one place is also a useful exercise to do before the holidays.


  • Turn off your phone – We all know how distracting phones can be and how much time can be wasted scrolling through social media or watching YouTube clips. For the final few weeks leading up to exams it will save considerable time if phones are turned off or kept in another room during revision time. Students can spend some time before revision checking messages and newsfeeds, but then must be strict and at the set time for revision to start, put the phone away. It can then be their reward once revision is over for the day to switch it back on and check what’s been going on while they’ve been busy revising!


  • Make sure you know exactly what you are going to cover each day – A good revision schedule will include not only how much time students spend revising each day, but which subjects they will be covering. It should also break the subject down into individual topic areas to make it very clear where their efforts should be. This will be as a result of them doing their ‘stocktake’ of knowledge. One step further they could go to make it even more specific is to identify exactly how they are going to revise. Will it be making notes, mind maps, past papers, flashcards, watching videos and other online resources or completing a worksheet? The more specific they can be, the less time they have to spend at the start of each session deciding what to do.


  • Timetable in things you enjoy – Although students may feel there is a lot to cover in a short space of time, factoring in some rest and recuperation is vitally important to emotional well-being and will make their revision much more effective. Taking care of both body and mind through enjoyable activities will boost mood and the ability of the brain to absorb information. These enjoyable activities can also be used as rewards to help boost their motivation. Whether it’s a shopping trip, a visit to the cinema, meeting up with friends, going to the gym, spending time outside or just catching up on some sleep, students should make sure that there are a few of these scattered around their revision timetable over the two-week Easter holiday.

I hope you have found this article interesting and have some ideas to share with your children. If you need extra help with GCSE revision strategy then take a look at my HeadsUp! Revision Strategy programme. Designed specifically for year 10 and 11 students to take the stress out of revision and make it more enjoyable! Available as a half day workshop, 4 part webinar series or a 1-2-1 tailored programme.


Practical and interactive workshops to improve the effectiveness of GCSE revision and boost motivation.

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The HeadsUp! Webinar Programme is a series of 4 live and interactive webinars covering all aspects of GCSE revision.

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For students who prefer a more personalised approach, over 4 one hour 1-2-1 sessions we will cover a variety of techniques an strategies to improve GCSE revision strategy – either in person or via Skype

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Parent PowersA 4 week programme to take the stress out of being a parent and make family life more enjoyable.
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This post was written by Beth Parmar