Student Blog

How to start GCSEs the right way

The days are getting shorter, and the sun’s showing itself a little less – this can only mean that the summer’s almost over and the dreaded back-to-school season is approaching. But going back to school doesn’t have to be something to dread, even if you’re entering year 10 and about to face GCSEs for the first time. Read on for some helpful tips about how to deal with the start of GCSEs from someone who’s been there – and knows that exams are nothing to be scared about, no matter what your teachers might tell you to frighten you into doing your homework!

Keep on top of things

Try not to roll your eyes if you’ve heard this tip before – but it really is crucial to keep on top of all your work as the year(s) go on. It may be tempting to muddle along during the year and cram for your end of year exams when the summer rolls round, but all this does is put you under a lot of stress. Making sure you understand all the course content as you learn it, as well as making notes to look back on, will ensure exam season is a little less overwhelming. Likewise, it might be a good idea to make a note of the topics you find trickiest, so you know what you need to spend the most time on when you need to revise.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help

Thinking along the same lines, it’s important to make sure you’re not afraid to ask someone to clarify things if you’re confused about a topic, an exam or even how to manage your time properly. Teachers should always be your first port of call when it comes to academic questions – don’t let being embarrassed stop you from asking for help. Alternatively, you might have a friend who gets that topic you just can’t get your head round – or else you could always try arranging a meeting with one of MyTutor’s excellent and friendly tutors!

Organisation, organisation, organisation

Maybe you’re one of those people who can’t get enough of colourful fine liners, new folders and notebooks with funky patterns – if so, welcome to the club! If not, maybe consider investing in a few things to keep your work in order. Make sure you save anything important (on your computer or in a folder), including marked essays and anything with comments from teachers on it, which can be really helpful when figuring what mistakes you need to work on avoiding the most. At the end of year 11, you’ll have to look back on everything you’ve learned in the past two years – just think how much easier it’ll be if you know where you’ve put all of those worksheets and essays from months ago!

Make the most of the internet

Of course, the internet can be distracting – but it’s not all Facebook and games. One top tip is to make sure you know what exam board and syllabus you’re on for each of your subjects, and then get familiar with the official material online. The Edexcel, AQA and OCR websites all have great resources – full breakdowns of exam content, examiner reports detailing common mistakes and even the documents intended for your teachers can be extremely helpful when it comes to revision time. You might not need to start printing off endless past papers now, but by next summer you’ll be glad you know where to look!

Don’t panic!

GCSEs might seem overwhelming at first, but as the year goes on you’ll get used to juggling your work with the rest of your life. Go into year 10 prepared, and there’s no need to feel nervous about this new stage of your life. Onwards and upwards to greater things!


Sophia M. grew up in Luxembourg, but now spends her days poring over grammar books and trying to produce weird and wonderful sounds as a Linguistics student at the University of Edinburgh. In her spare time she loves to sing, tutoring French, play guitar, and generally disturb her flatmates!

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