It’s just the first day of school and you’ve already been bombarded with homework and assignments. It’s only a short space of time before you’ll have the exam timetable in your hands and once that happens, you will want the IGCSE’s to end as soon as they begin. Although the year has only just started, by the time you fit in learning, practicing, extracurricular activities,  and hopefully some breathing space, what starts off as a two-year course, ultimately feels like just a few months! These handy tips can help you skip the IGCSE exams. Just kidding – we can’t do that! But we can certainly help by listing a few tips and tricks to help you prepare well to score and succeed without too much trauma.

  1. Plan, Get Set, Go!

You’ll hear your teachers tell you from the first day of the IGCSEs to get organized and prepare your study material, and we’d repeat the same to you. Don’t wait for the last school holiday before you finally get to know your books and then run an exhausting study marathon with yourself. Trust us on this. Planning ahead will save you a ton of time as well as unnecessary panic!

Make formula lists for maths, sciences, and economics. Make mind maps or concise notes for content dense subjects like History and Literature. Refer back to school notes or textbooks, clearing any doubts along the way. Purchased study notes will not solidify your learning in the same way as making your own will. Setting yourself up in this way well in advance will leave you enough time to revise, practice, and rest your mind before the big day.

You will have to sacrifice some of your spare time at the start, but you’ll thank yourself later.

2. Focus on improving your weaknesses

Face your challenges straight on – don’t let them build up so that they become daunting! Identify the topics you find particularly challenging and work on them before moving to the easier, more enjoyable ones. By allocating more time to strengthening your weaknesses rather than dwelling in your comfort zone, work efficiently towards a better grade. Set achievable goals for yourself, and give time to each one. Start early so you don’t have to rush and stress. Don’t be shy of asking for help from

fellow students, seniors, parents, or a teacher who you can approach easily. If you don’t ask, you won’t know.

3. Organise yourself with useful study tools

Sort out that pile of crumpled study notes that builds up at the bottom of your school bag. File those scraps away according to subjects and make some notes! Mind Maps are our favourite way of condensing bulky information into a concise memorable format. The sheer task of creating them is already the best form of revision. Write neatly, small, and in pencil in case you need to rearrange.  Converting that pile of notes into one sheet of key points and headings is so satisfying and also makes the subject matter so much more manageable. Mnemonics are another great way to simplify learning. Complex lists and processes such as periodic table groups, math rules, the order of planets can be reduced to easily memorable phrases.

With both mind maps and mnemonics, you can associate simple words and phrases to easily connect ideas and structure content in a logical sequence.

4. Practice, Practice, Practice

As cliche as it may sound, practice is the key to IGCSE exam success. There are adapted questions given in textbooks, but nothing beats going straight to the source of past exam papers. Once you have learned strategy, time yourself under exam conditions and practice as many papers as you can. This will benefit you in many ways: you’ll get familiar with the exam pattern and learn how to answer questions during the actual exam, and you will also improve your handwriting speed, something which you definitely don’t get enough practice at. 

It’s easy to self-mark for subjects like Math and Science because they’re fact-based and marking schemes are comprehensive. The difficulty arises when marking subjects like Literature, which can be completely wrong, but never completely right. Having your papers reviewed with detailed feedback by an experienced educator will improve your skills. You may consider paper marking services for written subjects such as English, Business Studies, and  History. 

Once you practice more past papers you’ll realize that most concepts are repeated, and the questions are paraphrased. You’ll have a better sense of which topics are good to know and which ones are must-know. 

The Questions

While we’re on the subject of question papers, do ensure that you read the questions thoroughly. Students often miss chunks of marks writing essays when the question asks for a letter, or the point of the essay has been missed. Read the question in detail and let it register. Plan your answers before you start writing, and your answers will turn out crisper and well-structured.

5. Don’t study the whole day

You heard it right. You think studying all day every day will give you the best grades, but this can backfire and do the opposite. The proverb “all work and no play makes Jack (or Jacqueline) a dull boy (or girl)” might sound dated, but it’s probably true.

Steady and consistent studying with a maximum of 4-5 hours a day is probably as much we can effectively achieve. Alongside traditional studying, take part in other activities to exercise different parts of your brain. Taking part in physical activities like football, squash, or games that exercise the mind, such as scrabble and chess,  prove beneficial for your exam preparation too. An active lifestyle will keep your energy and spirits high, and you won’t feel drowsy when you hit the books.

5. Take a Break

Don’t study so much that you fall asleep exhausted at your desk – take a break! Even a 10-minute break will work wonders. It could be getting up for a glass of water, a snack, or even a short episode of Young Sheldon! Who said siestas are exclusively for holidays? We know that we feel the sleepiest when we open our textbooks to study – we’ve all been there. A  10-15 minute power nap will work wonders in resting those grey cells and getting them ready to be fired up again as you attack the next hours of study. If naps are too addictive, at least get up, walk around the room and shake off the lethargy. Keeping active and hydrated will stop you from wilting while you study.

To conclude, it’s totally do-able 

Eat well 

Sleep well

Prepare well

Relax well

Get the support you need, and 

Do well!