How to Pass GCSE Maths
Table of Contents
When it comes to passing GCSE Maths, there’s no substitute for hard work. However, there are things you can do to increase your chances of performing well in the exam. At Exam Papers Plus, we publish GCSE maths revision packs, so we know a thing or two about how to best prepare. In this guide, we share our top tips on how to pass GCSE maths.
Understand What the Exam Involves
The first step to preparing for the maths exam is to be clear on what the tests involve. At GCSE level, there are three tests that last 1 hour 30 minutes each and cover six topics: number; algebra; ratio, proportion and rates of change; geometry and measures; probability; statistics.
Each test paper is equally weighted at 33.3% of your overall score and includes a mix of question styles, including short, single-mark questions and multi-step problems. The mathematical demand increases as a student progresses through the paper.
For more information on the structure of the GCSE maths exam, you can refer to the AQA website.
Organise Your Revision Notes
After working through the GCSE syllabus for the last two years, you probably have several folders full of notes. As a starting point to passing GCSE maths, we recommend that you pull out the notes that relate directly to the six exam topics and arrange them in a new revision folder. In doing this, you’ll have all the coursework you’ll need to revise in one place. If you struggle to remember a formula, you’ll know exactly where to look in your notes.
In addition to organising your coursework, we recommend that you create a study planner that outlines what topics you plan to study and when. A planner can be as simple as a spreadsheet or diary – anything that lets you plan your revision in the weeks leading up to the exam.
At Exam Papers Plus, our preferred format for study planners is a wall chart. Having a visual representation of your study schedule displayed in your bedroom acts as a constant reminder of how many weeks you have left. It’s also really satisfying marking off each day that you complete.
Vary Your Revision Techniques
There comes a point in everyone’s revision where they hit a wall and find it difficult to motivate themselves. The key to ensuring you stick to your schedule is to use a variety of revision techniques.
Here are some of our recommendations:
Group revision – Studying as part of a group can add a different dynamic to your studying routine. Having other people around you revising the same topic encourages discussion and understanding. Arrange for some of your fellow GCSE maths students to get together and study as a group. Revising with other maths students can also be useful when you get stuck on a particular topic or practice question.
Flashcards – All you need to create revision flashcards are sheets of A5 card, a pen and your revision notes. Using your notes for reference, write down keywords or phrases on to individual cards. Whenever you feel your motivation for revision dwindling, choose a random flashcard and recall as much information about the keyword or phrase as you can out loud. Not only does this technique boost your confidence for the exam, it helps you get used to thinking on your feet.
Timed practice questions – Using GCSE practice questions and a stopwatch, give yourself a time limit to answer each question. For multi-step questions, you’ll need around 3 minutes and around 1 minute for 1 or 2-mark questions. The more often you practice doing timed questions, the better your time management skills will become.
Tips for the Exam
With all your hard work out of the way, the only thing left to do is take the exam itself. Although your performance will largely be determined by the amount of preparation you put in, there are some things you should bear in mind on test day. Here are our top exam tips for passing GCSE maths:
- Write out any formulas or equations that you’re afraid you might forget on to a separate sheet of paper as soon as the exam starts. This way, you can move forward confidently, knowing that you have them covered.
- Use the same calculator that your revised with to sit the test. This may sound obvious, but the last thing you want to worry about is learning the functions of a new calculator in the middle of your exam.
- Aim to finish each test paper with around 10 minutes to spare so you can review your answers and make any adjustments. You should also use this time to answer any questions that you skipped.
- Bring bottled water into the exam with you. Staying hydrated throughout the tests can actually boost your overall performance.
- Don’t be distracted by other students leaving the exam early. Always wait until the exam is over and use your time to review your answers a second time if need be.
For some more useful revision techniques, watch this short video from student Lucrezia Chloe:
Use Good GCSE Maths Resources
In order to pass GCSE maths, you need to invest in good resources. At Exam Papers Plus, we publish maths packs that aim to improve students’ skills and confidence in the lead up to test day.
We’ve thoroughly analysed examiners’ reports from previous years to ensure that our GCSE maths practice questions cover all the essential areas of the GCSE maths exam. Our questions also focus on topics that we know students consistently struggle with. Furthermore, all our practice papers are written and developed by former GCSE Maths examiners and markers.
Not only do our tests help students familiarise themselves with the exam format and question styles, they can also help improve time management skills.
Each pack focuses on the key skills required to do well in higher tier GCSE exams and includes detailed step-by-step answers and mark schemes for every question. Each question is labelled to identify the relevant exam boards.
We’d highly recommend the following resources for GCSE maths help:
All of our GCSE packs are available immediately after download.