GCSE’s (or General Certificate of Secondary Education) is what my older daughter is studying for in Year 10 at school. But I thought I had till the end of Year 11 for the BIG EXAMS, but no GCSE’s are done in meaty chunks now with a major part of each subject marked as a controlled assessment. Each assessment (and there are many for each subject) contribute a percentage to the overall exam mark, so for example 60 % of the English Literature exam is in the form of a number of controlled assessments.
During this month alone (March) she has :
- completed a science exam/controlled assessment, (3 separate multiple choice papers for biology, chemistry and physics for the first 2 units of work)
- written a 2000 + word essay (over 4 sessions) on a complex Shakespeare question for English
- done a spoken French controlled assessment (6 topics have to be spoken about confidently in French)
- Written and performed a 5 minute monologue in a Shakespeare setting
While many people say they would prefer their children to sit their GCSE’s in modules or chunks like this, there are some salient points to bear in mind
Yes , it’s great that if your child has a bad day on the final exam all is not lost, but on the other hand, it does feel like a permanent exam in our house at the moment. The pressure is quite relentless and organisation, focus and steadfastness in study technique is necessary all the time.
These qualities don’t come naturally to all children (or adults!) so while questions are given in advance for preparation they are obviously harder than if they were unseen.
Prepare your children in the summer of Year 9 for the gruelling GCSE schedule that starts in Year 10 !
- It would be helpful to log on to the exam board sites of each subject druing the summer and look at what % of each exam is via controlled assessment. (Maths there is hardly any as opposed to English which has a high percentage)
- Next liaise closely with your school to find out exact dates of when these assessments are and make a revision timetable working backwards from these dates.
- Trying to stick to it is another matter, but at least you’re on the right lines !
- Ask your school if there are past papers for all subjects that students can have access to and keep them on a memory stick for quick access at revision time (which seems to be most of the time)
- Bookmark favourite websites linked to each subject.
As a general point, encourage your children to read whatever and whenever they can around their subjects, easier said than done, I know, but this will be invaluable at all stages.
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