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Tips for A-level and GCSE exams

The all-important exams are approaching and it’s no wonder you are feeling the strain. The period leading up to exams can be very stressful, with the pressure of needing to achieve a certain grade for a specific university or job weighing heavily upon the minds of many students. So, how do you prepare for your GCSE and A-Level exams? Follow our useful tips to increase your chances of achieving success in your exams:


Doing plenty of revision is, of course, the number one priority when it comes to ensuring you achieve the results you want for your GCSE and A-Level examinations. However, starting revision early, following a strict revision timetable and avoiding distractions will also inevitably optimise your chances of success. If you’re finding it hard to remember certain facts, or just want to remember more, write them on pieces of paper and place them in rooms throughout the house. Another technique is setting your phone background to a piece of information e.g. a date. Although this might seem excessive, it is just another way to ingrain the facts into your memory.

For some, additional help such as hiring a private tutor may be needed if you feel you are struggling. Outside support can make a profound difference when it comes to exam success.

For more revision tips take a look at our blog: Last Minute Revision Tips To Help You Ace Those Exams!

Getting Organised

It’s important to know in advance where each of your exams are taking place and what you are expected to take along with you. This prevents costly mistakes such as getting lost on the way to your exam or turning up unprepared. Stationery, textbooks, calculators, Student ID and any necessary paperwork are all worth thinking about too as you might require them in the exam.

Time Management

Good time management is crucial both before and during the exams. When it comes to revision, start early and create a revision timetable. During the exam itself, you must also be prepared to manage your time so that you are able to complete all sections of the paper. Time spent on questions should be allocated based on how many marks the question is worth. For example, in the case of the AQA A-Level History paper, participants should aim to spent 1 hour on section 1 and 45 minutes on each question in section 2.

When you open your exam paper it is advisable to read the entire paper before starting writing. This prepares you for how many questions you are required to answer and what format you should answer in. It also gives you a chance to plan your answer.

Read the instructions carefully, and once you’re certain of what is being asked of you, try to divide up your time so you know when to move onto the next section/question. If you complete the paper with time to spare, use this time to proofread your answers and add any additional information you may have forgotten.

Exam Technique

The more you can improve your exam technique the more confident you will feel on the day. Look at as many past papers as you can. Set yourself up in exam-like conditions and sit a mock exam (or a section of the paper). The more familiar you are with a time-pressured atmosphere, the better prepared you will be and feel.

When you begin, it’s a good idea to spend some of your allocated time planning your answer. If you do this, you’re more likely to come up with a well-structured response that includes all the key points. This will also enable you to stay on topic and keep the question in mind at all times. It’s easy to get distracted and go off on an irrelevant tangent, wasting valuable time.

For essay subjects, define paragraph titles and list bullet points beneath them. Think about how much you need to write for each point and try not to repeat yourself. Presenting your answer in a clear and concise manner will demonstrate to the examiner that you have fully grasped the subject matter, and indicate that you are able to present your ideas and arguments thoughtfully and constructively.

Also, make sure you present clearly the question you are answering. If there’s any ambiguity around this, you could confuse your examiner. If you make any mistakes, simply cross them out with a neat line and start again.

Answer the question(s) you feel most confident about first. This gets yourself quick and easy marks, and helps you to feel more confident and to get into the swing of things. If you try to tackle questions you aren’t sure about initially, you could find yourself getting stressed and panicked unnecessarily.

Staying Comfortable

Staying comfortable in the exam room is crucial. If you aren’t in school uniform, make sure you choose your clothes wisely. You don’t want to be distracted by an item of clothing being too tight or hot, or being too cold to concentrate! It’s also advisable to take a bottle of water into your exam with you. The water bottle must be clear and all labels must be removed before you enter the exam.

Don’t panic!

Most of us have experienced exams whereupon opening the paper, we’re filled with confusion and fright. If this happens to you, it’s important not to panic, as this will simply make you more stressed and less focused.

Instead, try to take some deep breaths, relax and have a sip of water. Even if you feel you don’t understand what the question is, asking it is always better to attempt it. If what you have written is logical and reasonable, you can still gain some credit. And, you never know, you might actually have got it spot on!

Similarly, if you get stuck on a question don’t waste time fretting about it. Simply move onto the next question and come back to it if you have time at the end.


If you apply all of the above tips and techniques before and during your exams you can walk into the exam room prepared and ready to tackle your exam(s) head on.

Exam success is all about having the personal commitment and a drive to achieve. However, we can all do with additional support from time to time.
If you feel you could benefit from a private tutor to help you with your GCSE or A Level exam revision, Tutor House can help! Our friendly, knowledgeable and reliable tutors work with students to help tackle difficult subjects, assist with exam technique and help them feel fully confident and prepared come exam time.