FAQ’s about school

January 1, 2017

FAQ’s about school

What does GCSE mean?

GCSE stands for General Certificate of Secondary Education. The qualifications are awarded after two years of study during school years 10 and 11.

How important are GCSE’s?

GCSE’s are the most important time in your child’s educational career to date. They are the gate in to the next stage in your child’s life; whether this is work or Further Education. They will be looked at by potential colleges and employers. 

What are the possible grades?

Each subject is split in to two levels – Foundation and Higher. It is dependent on which exam your child sits that will determine the grades possible.

Foundation Level – C-G
Higher Level – A*-D

How are GCSE exams assessed?

GCSE’s are assessed by a combination of exams or controlled assessments. The controlled assessments are to assess skills which are not measured by external exams. Linear exams were introduced in Summer 2014. Most of your child’s exams will be linear. This means that your child will learn throughout the two years and take one big exam at the end on all they have learnt. Although this is a particularly new concept, the schools will have prepared their students for this type of study. Due to this, revision will include a lot of material, be prepared to help your child go back over a lot of their own notes. Consider study guides which will offer concise information.

When do they start?

Most of the GCSE exams begin in mid-May and end in late June. Be aware that some language oral exams and other practical assessments may be taken earlier. At school they will give all students exam timetables, make sure to get a copy of this for you and put it up in the household.

Which grades should my child aim for?

At GCSE a C grade is considered a pass. Consider what your child wants to do after the GCSE’s as many Further Education courses require a B grade in certain subjects. Be realistic, look at the mock exam results and push your child to go above their previous best. To attain a pass or above in all subjects will open their options.

When should revision begin?

The most successful students will have kept a strong interest in their subjects throughout the whole GCSE period. We are aware this is not true of all students and with good revision high grades can still be attained. The student should be encouraged to review all of their past notes as soon as possible and then write a revision timetable. The timetable may be altered once the exam timetable is given out but to get into the routine of revising will make things a lot easier in the long run.

How can I help?

Preparation: Encourage your child to prepare. This can be implemented early and throughout the year; try not to allow them to leave homework and other tasks to the last minute. Rushed work tends not to get the best marks attainable. Being punctual and attending school as much as possible is crucial. Losing days of lessons and study during the GCSE years can be detrimental to your child’s progression. Be supportive and show encouragement with everything to do with school and the GCSE’s. Allow your child to prepare their own way but be aware of what they are doing and offer advice where you can.

Parents’ Revision Tips:

•    Be involved in your child’s education; make sure you talk to them about what they are studying. 
•    Ask if there is anything they do not feel confident in or understand, relate to them by giving your own experiences of struggling with a certain topic and what you did to overcome it.
•    Be vigilant as to which subjects they get most excited about and which ones they shy away from; it will give you a good understanding of them as a student and in turn what they may need to revise harder for. 
•    Make a timetable together, both keep a copy and pin a copy up in the house somewhere. 
•    Ask how revision is going to keep track. 
•    Be positive about each exam. 
•    Award good efforts and positive attitudes with treats.

Students’ Revision Tips:

•    Revise one or two subjects for a couple of hours each night
•    Do not revise for more than one hour without a five minute break
•    Avoid distractions – no social media/TV during revision
•    Be an engaged reader and take notes
•    Look at past papers and attempt answers
•    Stick to your revision timetable

Revision Techniques

Revision can be tough on a lot of students, it is an alien thing to just continually read over texts and notes again and again. It has been researched that visual, auditory and kinaesthetic techniques can be useful.


 If your child is a visual learner then here are a few tips for them;
•    Make colourful notes and stick them on walls
•    Summarise key ideas/words in big letters
•    Highlight/Circle key information
•    Use diagrams, pictures etc to underline the point


•    Some students learn better by hearing, here’s what they can do:
•    Use acronyms that can be remembered e.g: P.E.E (Point, Example, Explanation)
•    Encourage rhymes and songs that instil information
•    Explain the lesson/subject verbally to someone else
•    Record your notes and listen to them


Kinaesthetic learners gain most from the practical element of learning, revision options for this can include;
•    Acting out subjects/lessons
•    Explain concepts through gestures or games e.g: charades
•    Make revision cards

Is there anymore I can do?

As parents, it is extremely important to be aware of the following and to ensure that your child knows:
•    Exams dates and times
•    Exam length and equipment needed
•    Exam subject and what is being assessed
Before each exams try to ensure your child is not cramming, go over key topics and issues but try not to ‘learn’ anymore, this will be counterproductive. Give them healthy dinners and snacks, slow burning energy is key to good revision. Double check they have water and the correct equipment for each exam.


Although your child’s attitude may be fluctuating greatly, it is important that you remain engaged and positive for them during the GCSE exam period. Remember to:
•    Be aware of their revision and exam timetables
•    Create a balance of space and support, don’t overcrowd but be available
•    Allow breaks and recreational activities to create balance
•    Make sure they are eating well and drinking enough water
•    Insist the rest of the family are aware of the atmosphere required to study
•    Reward completed study time and positive attitude

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