Linear Exams - GCSE & A-Level Revision Tips

Linear Exams: GCSE & A-Level Revision Tips


For many years GCSE and A-Level subjects were taken as modular. This meant that the students would be taught certain topics within the course in chunks and then tested on their knowledge. Linear exams differ from this as it means students study all of the different aspects over the entire duration of the course and are tested at the end.

Think Positive:

We are programmed to retain a lot of information for a considerable amount of time, and practice makes perfect. 

If you have been undecided about the linear exams but inevitably have to take them try to look at the positives. It gives you a longer, less stressful time to plan and prepare. It is also giving you great experience in organisation. Your notes and class hand-outs will all of a sudden become much more important to you.

 If you are used to modular exams and you are now switching, it is a challenge but it is one you can brag about on your university application or CV…For example:

‘Although I was used to modular examination, I adapted to the linear mode well. This adaptation between learning styles has allowed me to learn more about the way I learn and has taught me I work well in the face of change….’

gcse and a level revision for linear exams


When it comes to revision for linear exams you may feel a little overwhelmed. Just remember the content of the subjects have not differed, it is just the delivery which has changed. My advice to you is to follow these tips:

·         Take notes

·         ‘Teach’

·         Make presentations/journals

·         Read more

Each of these points will attribute to attaining great grades.

Take notes:

At GCSE and A-Level study you will be given class sheets and work books. These are often quite factual…and I hate to say it, boring. It can be impossible to take any of the concepts in properly when it is just sitting there in black and white. Use your exercise book as much as possible and use COLOUR!

Your class notes and your individual ones are going to be very important to you when it comes to revising. It will be a pain having to find your first exercise book of the course two years down the line. Make your notes more fun and interesting, do what you have to in class – they can be in blue or black pen, scribbled down. But in your free time make sure you transfer them into something more you. Get creative, draw concept diagrams and doodles – no one else is going to see it! Get a few folders and fill it up as you go. As time goes on this will get quicker and before you know it you will notice the effect it’s having on your continuous level of study.


One of the best ways to learn something better is by teaching it to someone else.

Try and seek out someone you know who does not do the same classes as you. You can tell each other about what you learnt, people who study different subjects are often open minded about different concepts. Another great group of people to approach is your family. If you are constantly on your phone and your parents spend the holidays describing you as ‘disengaged’ prove them wrong. Babble to your Mum all the way home in the car, talk to your Dad over dinner, ring your Grandparents and tell them about what you are learning. The more you talk the more you will realise that you do know the subject pretty well.

If you cant explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough. 

- Albert Einstein.

Make presentations/journals:

If writing down notes as above isn’t for you, consider making presentations or a journal after each topic has closed. Jot down the key points and ideas – many people work better from bullet points. You can add as much or as little creativity as you wish. Again, this will make revision a lot easier later on. When it comes to your exams you will be able to sail through your own journal or presentation slides rather than digging through a piling of screwed up pieces of paper. The less cluttered your room is, the less your mind will be. Keep concise!

Read more:

Believe it or not your brain is a muscle; it needs exercise to keep strong. You know how you feel after watching hours of daytime TV? You feel tired and incoherent, it’s because your brain has gone to sleep! The more you read the easier it becomes. Now nobody expects you to be sitting down with ‘War and Peace’ every night but consider picking up the newspaper when you are in the house, even your younger siblings books will help. You don’t have to over-exert yourself but just try to keep your reading skills up. This can even mean articles online.

If you really, really do not like reading anything, at all then consider doing other activities to exercise the mind. Jigsaw puzzles, crosswords and Sudoku are all great ways to keep your mind active. It is allowing you to think and problem solve. 

Doing these things regularly will seriously improve your revision. Linear exams are all about a heightened level of concentration for longer. Reading and problem solving will allow you to do this every day. Trust me; you will see the benefits in no time