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How to revise for chemistry GCSE


GCSE chemistry revision challenges you in several ways. Aside from having to memorise facts spanning the whole specification, you also need to know your chemistry formulae. As a result, it's hard to know where to start. Here's what you need to know.

Start revision early

With a subject as broad as chemistry, you need to start your revision earlier in the year, compared to other subjects. This then allows you to break the core topics down into digestible chunks and study them little and often. This method ensures better memory retention and recall.

At the same time, stay engaged in your lessons right until your exams. Ask questions, and be honest about your knowledge gaps so your teacher can help you fill them.

Identify what you need to know

Before you start your revision look at the specification for your examining board and ensure you know what exam papers you have and the exact chemistry topics that will be covered.

This will help you to identify what you need to know, and what you don't need. If you're confused in any way, see your Chemistry teacher for confirmation of the core areas.

Work out where you are right now

Next, looking at the specification work out and highlight everything into three zones:

Green indicates what you know and understand.

Orange indicates what you vaguely know but aren't sure about.

Red indicates what you don't know, and or don't understand.

This colour-coded key will help you to see where to focus your revision and where to seek help. Always start with the topics in the red zone as this is the area that will help improve your grade.

If you have large knowledge and understanding gaps seek the help of a chemistry tutor who can work with you to catch up.

Change up your revision tactics

For ideas on how to revise do check out our blog post on How to revise for GCSE science - for general tips and advice. Alongside this, find yourself a chemistry revision partner. Explaining what you have learned to a peer is the best way to work out what you know and understand. It also has the added benefit of someone being able to add ideas that you may not have considered.

Work on past papers

You will hear this piece of advice a lot. However, it's vital to look at past papers at the right time. Trying them without revising or before you have started your revision is demoralising. Factor them into your revision, but only when your revision is in full swing, and you are ready to test yourself.

Ask for help

Chemistry involves a lot of concepts, which are essential for you to understand before you apply the information to your exam questions. So, if there are any chemistry topics you don't understand, don't be afraid to ask your teacher or a tutor and bring it up in class.

How to revise for GCSE science


GCSE Science is a two-GCSE sized (double award) qualification covering the three science disciplines of Biology, Chemistry and Physics. To ensure a pass at a high level, you need to revise all of the content and be aware of what examiners want from you. Here's how to revise the subject fully.

Step 1. Use a good revision guide

A science revision guide is key. To make it work for you, read it fully and then adapt what you read so you can remember the information clearly. Try making notes as you read through the guide, create flashcards for the key concepts and theories, and then re-write and condense your notes. Keep doing this until you can explain a topic or process from a few bullet points.

Step 2. Incorporate diagrams, and flow charts into your revision techniques

Diagrams and flow charts are an excellent way to adapt your revision notes of a process into a visual guide that will help you see it fully and learn how it works. Flashcards are also excellent for learning scientific definitions and keywords. Write the word on one side and the definition on the other and test yourself daily.

Step 3. Make sure you cover the whole of your syllabus

Grades will be given on your understanding of all three disciplines, so ensure you include the whole of your syllabus in your revision, not just your strongest areas. You never know what's going to come up, so you have to ensure you have it all covered.

Step 4. Check your understanding

Remember you can't revise what you don't understand so before you start your revision, look for your knowledge gaps and seek help. Your teacher or a Science tutor will be able to fill these gaps in and help you catch up in time if you tackle them now.

Step 5. Use past test papers properly

Past papers are the key to revising science. Firstly don't use past papers until you have done a large amount of revision, this way you can test your knowledge. Then when using past test papers, ensure you mimic the exam setting fully both with time and also with how you answer.

When you come to mark the paper also make sure you are harsh on yourself with the mark scheme. If you haven't got the answer completely right then, you need to write down what the examiner wanted and make sure you learn it.

More importantly, notice the trends and patterns in the question style of all the past papers you use as this is likely to be replicated in your own GCSE. Another way to use this to your advantage because no matter how much you know the content if you can't apply it to the mark scheme of your examining board, you won't get the marks.

Step 6. Back up your learning with YouTube videos

Finally, after you have gone through your revision guide back up your knowledge and test yourself with YouTube videos and worksheets. Free Science lessons on YouTube is a brilliant site to use for revision. It goes through all the main topics in a clear and concise way. Test yourself on the areas and take notes as you watch.

7 habits of successful students


What makes some students successful? Is it luck, smart genes or more? In reality, it's the habits they cultivate. You can model these behaviours to help improve your grades and confidence. Here's what you need to know.

1. They are organised

Successful students always know what's happening as and when, whether it's tests, revision, or homework. This, in turn, helps them plan so that they know what they are going to study, and for how long.

Not being organised means you are more likely to cram for exams, forget tests and revise haphazardly. To become more organised use your time wisely, stick to meaningful study schedules, pay attention to what's happening and make the most of the time in the classroom.

2. They think ahead

Thinking ahead is another facet of successful students. Forward-thinking means preparation and ensuring you have enough time to fit everything in. It's also about having the right resources in advance so that when you do study, you are ready. Whether that means having complete notes from your classes, the correct exam specifications past papers, and more.

3. They are solution-orientated

All successful students actively look for solutions when they are stuck. Whether this is seeking out a teacher or tutor for extra help or putting their hand up and asking a question that may sound foolish.

Successful students also take their learning out of the classroom to find solutions. To try this, use your library and online resources to supplement your studies; check out the problems in the back of textbooks and look online to get a deeper understanding of the materials you are studying.

4. They test their study methods

When it comes to studying, there is a multitude of ways to revise and improve recall. No one way is the magic bullet so successful students test out various study methods to see what works best for them. They also mix and match techniques to help keep the process fresh.

5. They can delay gratification

There are always more exciting things to do than study, and that's why many of us are easily distracted. Successful students feel the pull of their phone and YouTube as much as the next person, but the difference is they know how to delay gratification to prioritise their studies.

It's not an easy thing to do so help yourself by starting small. Identify your biggest distraction, for example, your phone. Turn it off for 30 minutes and study. Then look at it for five minutes and repeat, building up to longer and longer periods with the phone switched off.

6. They don't sweat the small stuff

It's always very easy to get knocked back by a bad exam result, a teacher's offhand comment or just knowing your friends have all scored better than you. Knowing how not to sweat the small stuff means not ruminating on the negative but learning from it.

It's about getting back up and trying again so help yourself by maintaining a positive outlook, steering clear of cynical peers and focusing on what's ahead, not behind you.

7. They have a more significant sense of purpose

Successful students aren't working hard for their teachers and parents but for their own sense of purpose. They are driven to work because their goals are more extensive than grades and good marks.

Having a strong sense of purpose about the bigger world and your goals will help you to find meaning in mundane and challenging schoolwork as well as motivate you to work harder.

Ten ways to get the most out of Online Tutoring


Through learn-extra, you’ll be able to find a tutor who suits you and your subject, and ‘meet’ online at a time that fits your study schedule. But to make sure you get the most from online tutoring – after all, it’s an hour of your life and your (or your parents’) money you’re spending – follow these tips to make sure you maximise your learning.

  1. Put it in the diary. Set your phone (or your parent!) to alert you an hour before and ten minutes before your tutorial time.
  2. Log in at least five minutes early. It’s tempting to wait until the last minute to log on, but we all know how computers can throw up glitches when we least need them. Give yourself an extra five minutes’ grace so that you don’t waste tutorial time if you suddenly find you need to reset a password, your laptop needs charging and you’ve mislaid the charger, or your operating system is in the middle of an update. Then you can start off feeling calm and concentrate fully on making the most of the tutorial.
  3. Focus your full attention. That means – yes, sorry! – turning off your phone and making sure you are logged out of anything on the screen that might distract you – Instagram, Burn Note, Tumblr, Tinder, WhatsApp, Twitter, or even good old Facebook – whatever it is, shut it down for now.
  4. Find a quiet location. If your brother is making faces at you, the dog begging for treats or your housemates watching television in the same room, you won’t get the best from the session. Let everyone know you’re having a tutorial and stick a sign on the door to keep them away. Turn down the music and, if it’s noisy outside, shut the window. If it will help, consider using a headset so you can hear well and the tutor can hear you.
  5. Give the tutor lots of information. If it’s your first session, have your textbooks and other course material nearby so you can show the tutor what you’ve covered and explain where you need extra help. Let them know how you like to study – do pictures help you, do you like time to mull things over, do you do best working through past exam questions? Think about these things in advance. They will help your tutor tailor their teaching to give you the best support.
  6. Don’t be passive. If the tutor is droning on a bit by reading from a book or doing too much talking at you, you might find your attention wanders. Don’t just drift off, speak up and ask if they could give you an exercise or something to help you take in the information more actively. If you have an onscreen notepad feature you can both see, write on it – or use good old paper and pencil to write stuff down or draw graphs or mind maps, and show them to your tutor.
  7. Reset your brain and body. Sitting facing the screen for a whole hour or more can be difficult. Tell your tutor you’d like to take a brief one-to-two minute break every twenty minutes. Stretch your body, run around the house, or even do some jumping jacks. Have a drink of water or some nibbles handy (healthy trail mix or raisins will give you energy). A break like this will re-energise your body and brain, and help to maximise your focus for the rest of the session. It will help your tutor too!
  8. Make a note of homework and next tutorial times. You may think you’ll remember what you agreed, but when everyday life gets in the way, things can slip your mind. Use your phone or computer to keep a note of what you need to do and when.
  9. Do the homework. It may feel like a pain to have extra to do on top of school or college work, but the whole point of tutoring is to help you achieve what you want, so make the most of the opportunity that getting feedback from a tutor will bring.
  10. Ask that question. Unlike lessons at school or university tutorials, enjoy the fact that there’s nobody else here… just the tutor. If you don’t understand something or you missed some information, ask. No question is too stupid!

How to Manage Tutoring Expectations


It’s not uncommon for both student and parent expectations to be higher than usual as the exam dates get closer, so how should tutors manage these tutoring expectations? What if your student isn’t putting in enough effort or the expectations are simply unrealistic?

Read on to discover lots of actionable advice about how to manage tutoring expectations:

How do I deal with unrealistic expectations from my student’s parent?

It’s 4 weeks before little Johnny’s English exam and his parents come to you for some tutoring sessions. They believe their son is good enough for the top local school, but they’ve left it too late before his exam to start having tutoring sessions with you. What should you say? A good initial response could be: 

“There are no guarantees, but I want to meet Johnny’s needs”.

Ideally, you want to avoid a long discussion with the parent in front of the child, instead of calling the parent after the session to discuss any concerns that you or they might have. It’s important to talk with the students and parents separately in this situation. 

As tutors, it’s our role to make the goal realistic for our students. If it’s clear that a child isn’t going to get the grades to enter the desired school, move the goalposts; aim high, but identify several 2nd and 3rd choice schools as a backup. Identify their current level at the beginning of your first session and aim to make a significant improvement within the next 5 sessions. Then review their progress and identify where they are now and where they can progress to next.

What can I do if my student isn’t putting the effort in?

Get them to love learning again by identifying their learning style. This is a top priority if you want to provide maximum help with their learning. If they love watching YouTube, use YouTube videos for homework. If they need motivating, show them one of the motivational videos available on youtube.

We’re motivators as well as tutors and we need to emphasise to our students that if they want to succeed, they have to work hard.

Students often don’t have the study skills they need to become a better student, so we need to give them these skills. For example, one offline way to help students continue learning after an online lesson is to encourage them to use sticky notes to revise new content. Get them to stick these flashcard style Post-its around the house and replace them with new ones once they’ve learnt what’s written on them.

Should I offer support to parents for timetabling their child’s study plan?

Yes, but get the child to plan their own schedule. This is preferable to having the parent telling the child what to do and when. It’s good to spend some time on this because creating organisational structures, and learning to stick to them, are among the key soft skills that can progress students from C and B grades to A grades.

Should I offer crash course learning?

If you decide to offer this type of learning, make it clear with a verbal agreement that you will only do so if they agree to work on a medium-term goal after any short-term cramming. 5 hours of tutoring is not enough to do anything significantly educational so try to encourage a more appropriate learning schedule for the future.

How do I communicate progress at the end of the lesson?

To avoid overrunning, leave time before the end of the lesson to discuss progress. Tell the student or student’s parent what they’ve done, what they need to do to consolidate and what you’re going to do with them next time. This only needs to be a couple of minutes but is invaluable. As tutors, we need to plan the lesson, provide homework if needed, and measure progress. Letting students or parents know there is a plan, and how it’s progressing, is reassuring and lets them know they are working with a professional.

​​​​Another option is to make it clear that you have to leave or finish the call immediately when the session finishes but agree that you will update them later at a specific time via an email or call. This could be after the 3rd, 4th or 5th tutorial. Whichever way you choose, it’s important to set this expectation from day one so that the student or parent knows what to expect in terms of what you will and won’t do.

How To Effectively Manage Your Child’s Education


Managing your child’s education is one of the most important jobs that you, as a parent, have. While there are hundreds of tips and tricks that could be of use to you, there really are only three major things to remember to keep your child on track to receive the best education available – communication, repetition, and critical thinking. If you focus your efforts in these three places and incorporate them into everything you do, your child will be ahead of the game.

It may seem a bit like a no-brainer, but communication is the absolute key to making sure your child is making the most out of the available educational opportunities. This means being on a first name basis with your child’s teacher(s) and knowing exactly what the lesson plans are going to be so you can be ready to field any questions your child may have. It’s also important to keep the communication lines with your child open. When you show interest in what your child is doing, it validates the importance of their work. Not only will you be validating the work, but you’ll also be able to point real-world examples out and show your child that what is being taught in school really is vitally important.

In addition to great communication, repetition is key to student success. Sure, having seen something in class once and discussed it may work for some students, but the majority don’t pick up on things this instantaneously. This is where you, as a parent, have an opportunity to help your child learn. You can take the lessons being taught and create additional materials that reinforce these lessons. While this isn’t an overarching management technique, it absolutely makes a difference. The more often that a child does something, hears something or reads something, the more likely it is to be remembered.
The biggest challenge with repetition is having the time to come up with activities for your child to do. This is where the help of an experienced tutor is invaluable. When you simply don’t have the time you’d like to dedicate to your child’s education, a tutoring program is the best way to get the repetition and extra practice that is necessary for your child to excel.

Critical Thinking
While children in kindergarten aren’t quite ready to dive directly into a full-scale critical thinking session, it’s never too early to start asking them to come up with their own explanations for things. Asking your child what he or she thinks before giving them the answer makes them think about all of the possible answers first. Learning how to reason from the question to the answer is an essential skill for dealing with problems all through life. When you are managing your child’s education, the ability to reason should be at the top of the list.
Managing your child’s education isn’t difficult, but it is something that many parents fail to do effectively. By remembering the three main facets of a good education – communication, repetition, and critical thinking – you’ll be well on your way to making sure your child gets the most out of the education experience.

How to work from home with kids during Covid-19


Finding a happy medium between working from home, and ensuring your children manage their remote learning isn't easy, which is why it takes a range of skills to get it right. Here's what you need to know.

Have a designated work area

Hot-desking at home just doesn't work. If you want to get into work mode, you need a designated work area, in the same way, that your child needs a study area. Your space should be easy to access, be customised to your needs (equipment-wise), and have agreed on boundaries around it. For instance, the family should know that this is your area between the hours of X and Y and that no-one can take equipment from your desk without asking.

Don't work in the same area as your child

As tempting as it is to work in the same room as your child, this won't work for several reasons; firstly children don't know the rules around working life so are bound to annoy you. Secondly, your child will have their way of studying, and it's likely not to meet your standards. Constantly policing them is also distracting for you and frustrating for them. Allow them their own space and autonomy, and they will get their tasks done.

Let an expert help you both

The vast majority of us are not teachers, which means while we can help with some subject areas and explain specific methods, we don't always have the right skills or processes to help our children. If you and your child are always at loggerheads over their work, it can help both of you to bring an expert in.
This could be a YouTube vlogger (there are several teacher channels aimed at all key stages and subjects), online resources of which there are plenty or the help of an online tutor. This will take the pressure off a charged situation and allow your relationship to move back to one of parent and child.

Plan the day

To work more efficiently, it also pays to get your critical work tasks done at the start of the day. It's only when you can focus with undivided attention for at least 10-15 minutes that you can get into the flow state, where you'll be able to be productive. Accessing this early then allows you to be able to switch your focus between work and helping your kids for the rest of the day.

Be clear about what you're going to work on

When you are not entirely clear about what you're going to work on, it's hard to be productive. You'll either switch between multiple different tasks too quickly or get distracted. To help pick one specific job that you're going to work on each day and stick to it.
This technique also works well for students. Rather than have them structure their day as they would at school with a different topic every hour, have them focus on one area per day with clear goals and outcomes.

Be realistic about work and study hours

It's tough to work from home so you have to be realistic about the hours you can work while your kids are home. If work or studying takes precedence, it can lead to life at home becoming too overwhelming for everyone, especially your children.
To ease this, set aside time to chat and listen to each other's concerns each day. Think about what's working and allow everyone to have a voice in what's happening. It also pays to keep to a flexible routine where you all check-in multiple times a day, perhaps around lunchtime, dinnertime and a break mid-morning. This way, you keep a connection going and avoid any boredom related behaviours.

The best remote learning tips to see you through lockdown


Remote learning isn't an easy concept, especially when you're used to classroom scenarios with peer-to-peer input and a teacher on hand to help. But it is possible to make it work, here are some of the best tips to make it work for you.

Accept that online lessons are difficult to engage with

Learning online is just different from learning in the classroom. It's more challenging for students to engage with as there is no one to talk to. What can help here is to have someone to chat to about assignments so you can make sense of them aloud. A peer study group can help here as can talking to parent as you view the work.

Ask for specific teacher feedback.

Qualitative feedback is essential to student growth, and it can be forgotten when teaching remotely. If this is happening with your work, then ask for feedback. You need to know how you are doing and that your remote work has a purpose, to feel motivated to study.

Ask for autonomy

It takes skill and time to learn to work in a self-regulated environment. Use this time to refine your ability to organise and plan, to feel comfortable with working alone. Point this out to parents who want you to stick to a schedule and prove to them that you can do it.

Find relevance in what you're doing.

Right now you might be thinking what's the point in doing algebra or even learning the Periodic Table? However, finding a sense of meaning and purpose in the work you're doing by reminding yourself of why you are doing it can help you to stay focussed.

Make learning interactive.

As you're not in the classroom, you need opportunities not just to read, but to actively process the information being presented. Why not quiz yourself post-lesson as a form of retrieval practice, or get together with your classmates and have a trivia quiz to see who can remember the most. Make it fun, and you will learn more.

Be honest about your learning barriers.

Is it your phone, PS4 or the simple fact you find it hard to work alone? For many students having to work on their outside of a class, the scenario is hard. It's distracting and also hard to stay motivated, just staring at a screen. What can help is to print a hard copy of your lesson and work on that, then scan it in for submission.
Working in a room where siblings or other family members are working can also help. Lastly, keeping in touch with your teachers and asking for advice will also help here as it keeps the connection alive between work being set, you and your school.

Work with someone you trust.

Whether it's a parent or a tutor, working with someone on your set work can help you focus and get through the workload. Aside from helping you to think positively about work and your ability, it can help you get through your lessons faster and with fewer distractions.

Don't panic about the future.

If you are in years 10 and 12, try not to panic about what you're missing out on from lessons. Yes, there will be areas to cover when you return for 2021 exams but in the meantime now is your chance to catch up on missed lessons, fill your knowledge gaps and revise what you do know. All of this will prep you for your next academic year.

Master new skills outside of lessons

Remote learning is a lot to take in all at once, and it's not ideal for teaching new skills. It's why much of your remote learning work will be practice and revision. If you feel demotivated by this why not master new skills on your own. It doesn't have to be study-related but something that challenges you and keeps your mind active. Knowing you can learn something new can help motivate you to get through remote working with more enthusiasm.

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