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About Consilium

Consilium Academies is a multi-academy Trust working across the North of England. It has nine academy schools located in Yorkshire, the North West, and the North East. Consilium is dedicated to enriching lives and inspiring ambitions for both students and colleagues.

Revision & Exam Support

Exams and assessments are undoubtedly nerve-racking experiences for pupils and their parents. It can be an anxious time during the run-up to exams and parents may wonder to what degree they should be helping. So, with that in mind, here we aim to help parents and carers of Thornhill pupils support their children as they approach exams, mocks and internal assessments.

Revision Advice

We all know the importance of revision and preparation for assessment and exam success, but how much do we know about what makes for effective revision? There are some very popular strategies that our students spend A LOT of time doing, yet they are proven to have little impact.

3 commonly used and poor revision techniques are:

  • Highlighting
  • Rereading texts
  • Copying out notes

The reason these are so ineffective is that they require little thinking... and it is THINKING about things that makes us remember them.

It is easy to see why students like these strategies. They are low demand but make students feel assured that they are ‘doing revision’. They will come bounding downstairs from their room to show off their neat files and highlighted sheets of texts that they have ‘revised.’ Gratifying? Yes. Effective? NO.

So what does work? Below are 3 of the most effective approaches to revision.

1 Distributed practice

Rather than cramming all of their revision for one subject into one block, it is much better to space this out, right from now until the exams are over. Revision for GCSE can start from the very first day in year 10! Why is this better?

Bizarrely it is because this gives students time to forget. This means that when they come back to it a few weeks later they will have to think harder which helps them remember it better. By interleaving and mixing up different topics together, and continually revisiting their learning, students will be more successful at remembering and remembering quicker!

2. Testing, testing, testing...

This technique is pretty straight forward. Students need to keep testing themselves (or each other) on what they have to learn and remember. This technique has been shown to have the highest impact in terms of supporting students recalling and remembering. Some ways in which student can do this are:

  • Creating flashcards with one question and one answer on the back- keep testing!
  • Work through past exam papers (you can get these direct from exam board websites)
  • Create ‘fill the gap’ exercises and come back to them later to practice
  • Create multiple choice quizzes
  • Use apps such as Quizzlet, Gojimo and many more

3. Interrogation

One of the best things that students can do to support their revision is to ask why an idea or concept is true... and then answer! Students can ask themselves and each other or be asked by parents and carers. For example:

In science, increasing the temperature can increase the rate of chemical reaction... why?

In geography, the leisure industry of seaside towns like Barry Island in South Wales has deteriorated in the last 4 decades... why?

In history, in 1929 the American stock exchange collapsed. This supported Hitler’s rise to power... why?

So rather than just learning facts or ideas and reading them over and over, student should get into the habit of asking themselves WHY these things are true.

Top 10 Tips for Parents

Top 10 Tips for Parents

  1. Encourage your child to make a revision timetable – and stick to it. This includes planning in time for friends, exercise, and relaxing.
  1. Make sure your child has a quiet space to work, with no distractions. Putting the mobile phone away can be a challenge but removing that distraction can help too.
  1. Help to find the method of learning and retaining information that works best for them. It could be reading and summarising notes, using flash cards or Post-it notes, looking at video clips, playing back recordings of their own voice, mind mapping or perhaps a mixture of these.
  1. Check the exam specifications. All exam boards publish these, along with practice papers and mark schemes too.
  1. Search out revision apps and online resources – such as BBC Bitesize and Gojimo – to clarify areas your child feels less confident about. Teenagers sometimes concentrate on their best subjects and leave their weaker ones till the end, but it is a good idea to tackle weak areas early on.
  1. Be around as much as possible. You don’t have to be at their side 24/7, but children like parents and carers taking an interest in their revision. Be careful however not to take over.
  1. Keep the kitchen cupboard stocked with delicious food. When the going gets tough children really appreciate a cup of tea, a plate of biscuits or their favourite meal.
  1. Encourage them to break revision into manageable chunks and to take regular breaks in between revision sessions. It’s far more effective to do 30 minutes of successful revision – rather than plough on for hours on end and not get anywhere.
  1. Exercise, fresh air, healthy food and lots of sleep are crucial.
  1. Most important of all, help your child to keep everything in perspective. Remind them that the better they prepare and the more confident they feel in their subject knowledge the less stressed they will feel when the exams start.

The OCR exam board have produced an excellent guide to revision which can be found here:

https://www.ocr.org.uk/Images/295221-the-ocr-guide-to-revision.pdf

 

GCSE Support at Thornhill

Throughout the GCSE exam years, a series of formal and informal interventions will be in place to support and prepare all students for their GCSE exams.

Firstly, regular classroom assessment take place to enable the teacher to shape and guide students to close gaps in learning or to extend their thinking. You may hear your child talk about ‘Do Now’ tasks or ‘POW’ opportunities where they perfect their work. Homework tasks are designed to support revision and exam practice and are essential to GCSE success.

Outside of lessons, before school, lunch and after school sessions are made available by teachers for students to attended to revisit learning, revise topics and prepare for exams.  Whilst these are voluntary, we would encourage every student to attend where possible and take all the opportunities available to them. A timetable of these sessions is available to help student plan their time effectively.

Revision guides are available from each subject areas and will be an invaluable support for student studying towards GCSE’s.

We have targeted interventions for some students to focus on their progress in core subjects however most intervention and support is classroom based. Keeping in communication with classroom teachers can help both students and parents. Class Charts messenger is an ideal tool to keep these lines of communication open.

Students are often attached to their mobile devises and gain a lot from websites and apps. Some great online resources are listed below:

https://collegeinfogeek.com

https://studywise.co.uk/GCSE-revision

https://www.gijimo.com

https://revisionword.com/GCSE-revsion

https://senecalearning.com/en-GB/

https://classroom.thenational.academy/subjects-by-key-stage/key-stage-4

 

Managing Exam Stress

Working towards exams can create feelings of worry and being under pressure. However, three are a range of things that students and parents can do to help deal with the stress you might be feeling.

When students are feeling stressed, get them talking.

  • Remind them that a certain amount of stress is normal and good for motivation. They can use this emotion to improve their performance.
  • Encourage them to talk to friends, they are there to help, and they will realise they are not alone.
  • Encourage them to talk to teachers, they will have a different perspective and can help to solve problems and offer practical solutions.
  • Get them to take breaks and get plenty of sleep
  • Encourage them to revise with friends. Learning is a social thing, and they don’t need to be isolated and alone.

Mindfulness activities such as breathing techniques can help to support stress, find out more here: https://franticworld.com/mindset

How else can parents help?

  • Encourage them to start revising NOW... as soon as possible! Athletes don’t just train the day before, actors don’t just rehearse the day before filming/a play.
    •  “The more I practised, the luckier I get” Gary Player (golfer)
  • Provide a quiet space to work. Most people work well in an undisturbed place with space to spread out. Make sure it is well lit and that there are no distractions
  • Help them get a balance in their revision timetable for work and social time. Breaks will help learning, giving the brain time to store and sort information. Keeping up with friends will help put the stress of exams into better perspective.
  • Make time for exercise. This naturally relaxes us even just a brief walk in the fresh air can help.
  • Don’t sweat the small stuff. As exams get closer you may notice that your child’s room becomes messier than normal. Try not add any additional pressure- their room can always be tided later.
  • Help them to eat and sleep well. Make time to sit down and eat together. Discuss ways to help your child to get a good night sleep, maybe by switching off the phone, iPad, or games console to get a clear head before bedtime.
  • Keep them talking. All student's feel demotivated, overwhelmed, nervous, and can struggle at times. Help them to see that this is OK, talk to them about how you felt nervous too. Help them in overcoming these barriers.
    • “How can I help?”
    • “If you’d like me to test you, let me know”
    • “I’ve brought you a snack to keep you going”
  • Give plenty of praise and encouragement and don’t pass on your stress. Young people, are under more pressure today than ever before. Try not to show how worried you might be about exams. In fact, make it explicit that you love them whatever happens (sounds too obvious, but it really matters to young people, who can often feel they will let their parents down).
  • Expect and encourage your child to attend additional sessions where extra support can be received.
  • Communicate regularly with the school; we all want the very best for your child.

 

For more information about managing stress during exam times, the links below will be useful

https://www.studentminds.org/examstress

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/coping-with-exam-stress

https://www.ncsyes.co.uk/themis/5-ways-destress-exams

GCSE's 2022

The ongoing impact of Covid, lockdowns, and school closures has resulted in the DfE completing a consultation over the summer regarding potential changes to GCSE exams for 2022.

The outcome of this consultation has been published and can be found here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/proposed-changes-to-the-assessment-of-gcses-as-and-a-levels-in-2022

As summary of the changes to GCSE assessment is outlined below

Maths

Formula sheets will be provided

English Language

No changes

English Literature

Optional topics and advanced information to be revealed in February 2022

Science combined and separates

Practical tasks are now encouraged

Equation sheets provided for physics and combined.

History

Optional topics and advanced information to be revealed in February 2022

Geography

Optional topics and advanced information to be revealed in February 2022

French and Bengali

No changes

RS

No changes

Art, Graphics and Photography

Portfolio based assessment only- No externally set task

Business

No changes

Computing

No changes

Advance Information Student Guide

Frequently Asked Questions - Advance Information for General Qualifications

  1. What is the purpose of advance information. Advance information is intended to communicate, ahead of the examinations, the focus of the content of the examinations (or part of the examinations) that will be assessed in the examination papers. As stated by DfE the purpose of advance information is to support revision.
  2. Where will I get the advance information from? All awarding organisations will make advance information publicly available on their websites. Note: Advance information will only be available from the website of the awarding organisation(s) that provides your subject(s). It will not be available from any other source.
  3. I am a private candidate, will I be able to see the advance information at the same time as schools and colleges? Yes, it is important that everyone preparing for summer 2022 examinations has access to the advance information to aid revision. All awarding organisations will make advance information publicly available on their websites at the same time for schools, colleges and private candidates/tutors.
  4. Why won’t all advance information look the same for each awarding organisation or subject? The nature of the different specifications and assessments mean different approaches need to be taken (for instance comparing a very content heavy, practical, subject such as science with a subject based on set texts such as English – the best advance information solution for these subjects would be very different). Also, variations between specifications for the same subject across awarding organisations means that the best advance information solution can be different even within the same subject.
  5. Why will my subject not have advance information? The exceptions are either because of the nature of assessments in those subjects (assessment is by NEA in Art and Design qualifications) or because, following consultation by DfE and Ofqual, it has been decided that advance information will not be provided in subjects where optionality is being introduced for 2022. This applies to GCSE English Literature, History, Ancient History and Geography.
  6. What about the November examinations for GCSE English language and GCSE mathematics during the autumn term 2022, will they have advance information? To ensure fairness to students sitting examinations in autumn 2022, new advance information (specific to the November examinations) will be provided for GCSE English language and GCSE mathematics in July 2022.
  7. What are synoptic questions? Synoptic questions require you to draw together different areas of knowledge, skills and/or understanding from across the specification. You will need to have covered all the specification content to ensure you are best placed to demonstrate what you know and can do in synoptic questions.
  8. What do you mean by ‘low and high tariff’ questions? This will vary between different specifications but tariff refers to the number of marks allocated to a given question.
  9. Why is the advance information mainly being applied to higher mark questions? While some advance information for some specifications relate mostly to higher mark questions, this is not the case for all advance information. Advance information has been designed to help all students as much as possible, and it is there to help guide and prioritise revision. As low mark questions tend to cover a large proportion of specification content, if advance information was provided for low mark questions, it would cover a much wider area of the specifications and be less helpful in guiding you. It is important to know that specifications and assessments are different across all qualifications, which means a different approach needs to be taken for each subject. Please always check the advance information for your subject.
  10. Why can’t I bring advance information into the examination if I’ve been using it to revise? Advance information, if provided in the examination itself, could provide you with prompts to questions. This in turn could lead to unfair results and damage progression. (You will, however, be permitted to use examination aids in GCSE mathematics, physics and combined science examinations in 2022.) Bringing advance information into the examination could also distract you from giving the best attention to the questions in the examination.
  11. If I haven’t finished the course, can I just focus on what’s included in the advance information? To support your progression, and your best possible performance in the examinations, you will want to revise everything you have been taught, but advance information will help highlight where to focus more specific revision. Some questions in the examinations, for example synoptic questions, will require knowledge beyond what is included in advance information. It is important to note that the advance information will not cover everything that is to be assessed. In many cases the advance information will provide listed topics of specification content (in specification order not in question paper order) that will be the main focus of assessment, but content that is not listed could still be assessed. It is important therefore to ensure you have a good understanding of the specification content.
  12. How should advance information inform how I use past papers in my revision – should I just look at the questions aligning with the advance information? A good understanding of all the content of the specification is always the best preparation for success in an examination. It is important to bear in mind that all of your learning in a key topic or area might prove useful in an examination, particularly in synoptic questions. As noted above in response to question 10, advance information is intended to help guide and prioritise your revision. For example, if the advance information for a particular subject qualification states that one part of the assessment will focus on a reduced range of specification content, you may wish to prioritise that content when using past paper questions within your revision. However, to support your progression and best possible performance in the examinations, your revision plans should take account of everything you have been taught. Advance information will not necessarily cover all aspects of specification content that will be assessed in the 2022 examinations, so to make the best use of past papers you should revise a broad range of content. Using full past papers can also help you to familiarise yourself with the style of exam questions as part of your exam preparation.
  13. Why are you not releasing the advance information until 7 February 2022? Advance information will be provided to support revision for the summer 2022 examinations. The Government’s position is that the best time for advance information to be available to support revision is 7 February 2022.
  14. Will there be advance information for summer 2023? The current advance information approach only applies to the summer 2022 examinations to help mitigate for the level of disruption to teaching and learning as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Further advice and support
For advice about how advance information relates to the examinations you are taking in 2022, please speak to your subject tutors.