Skip to content

The Complete Guide to GCSE Preparation

A teenage boy and girl sat at a desk studying. The boy is writing while the girl is typing on a calculator.

With the GCSE exam season approaching fast, it’s time to focus on your GCSE preparation. It can be a daunting time for students, and many find themselves unsure of how best to plan and carry out GCSE revision and preparation.

Don’t worry. We’ve got you covered with the complete guide to GCSE preparation.


Depending on your education journey so far, you may have some experience revising for and sitting real exams with the 11+ or 13+ entrance exams. For others, primary school SATs and GCSE mocks are the first taster of exam-style testing.

For those with less exam experience, it’s worth considering what you are trying to achieve with your GCSE preparation. Of course, you know you need to revise all your GCSE exam subjects and cover all the syllabus areas, but what is the end goal?

The end goal for GCSE revision is achieving detailed active recall for all the topics within each GCSE subject. This simply means that you remember the information and can recall it when needed.

Active recall is best achieved not through simply reading and highlighting class notes but by challenging your memory to answer specific questions and quizzing yourself in detail on those subject topics. This process effectively compels your brain to retrieve information actively, fostering real comprehension rather than mere passive reading.

Research studies have shown that passive learning (reading and highlighting existing notes) is much less effective than active recall approaches to learning. Besides enhancing memory retention, active recall for GCSE preparation highlights areas where your knowledge is under par, allowing you to focus your revision energy on those topics.


1. Plan A Timetable

This can seem redundant to many students, but it has tremendous value. Planning out your GCSE subjects and the topics they contain forces you to note all the syllabus/topic areas for each subject and then drill down into each to know what topic areas they include.

By doing this and planning into a schedule what you can (realistically) fit in on a weekly basis gives you a great overview of each subject, what it contains and how long it will take you to cover.

Remember that when you plan your revision timetable, include time not only to revise for each topic but also to test your knowledge in various ways, such as by completing past GCSE exam papers.

Be realistic with your timetable; don’t cram everything into the last few weeks or months. This will not only be unachievable but counterproductive, as you will wear yourself out and create stress and anxiety at an already stressful time.

2. Know Your Learning Style

We all have different learning preferences, but you might not be aware of your preferred learning methods if you’ve never explored them. Auditory learners thrive through listening, visual learners through seeing. The majority of people benefit from a blend of learning styles.

The 7 main types of learning styles are:

  • auditory
  • verbal
  • visual
  • logical
  • kinaesthetic
  • solitary
  • social

If this is new to you, you can learn more about different learning styles here or take this online quiz to determine your preferred learning styles.

Once you know what learning styles suit you best, you can incorporate these into your GCSE revision and preparation. Be sure to mix things up; variety really helps to keep the brain alert and challenged.

3. Know Your Limits

Knowing what is achievable and being honest with yourself is vital. That’s another reason why creating a timetable is so important. You may think you have all the time in the world until you see the schedule down on paper.

At the end of the day, we are all human beings with strengths and weaknesses, and our daily and weekly schedules are not always controllable. Remember that you will have many other things to do during your revision preparation time, such as continuing to go to school, extracurricular activities, the need for leisure with family and friends, and much more.

Knowing how much time you have for revision and how much revision you can do each day or each week is critical. Plan in free time to rest and recuperate. Be sure to balance your life with time out and about, seeing friends and enjoying your free time so when it comes to revision, you will feel rested and energised.

4. Use Active Recall Methods

The basis of active recall, or active retrieval as it’s sometimes known, is to revise through questioning and testing yourself actively rather than trying to learn information through passively reading.

There are many ways to incorporate active recall into your revision: flashcards, mnemonics, mind maps, presenting information to friends and family, or doing quizzes with friends. When you sit down to revise, try testing your knowledge first to see where the gaps are rather than revising and then testing yourself at the end of your revision session.

5. Mix Things Up And Be Interactive

Regardless of your preferred learning style, be sure to practice many different ways to revise. Try out revising in a study group compared to on your own. Check out revising in the school library instead of revising at home. Use online study resources and not just your books and notes. Whatever you do, don’t just write notes and keep re-reading them.

Not only does this make things more interesting throughout your revision months, but it also allows you to discover different methods that work for you. Remember that different studying methods may be helpful at various stages of your GCSE preparation. Keeping your revision interactive will make it not only more enjoyable and fun but also sustainable throughout your exam preparation period.

6. Use Online Resources

Use revision websites to keep your revision varied and interesting. There are lots of free resources on the net.

The online resources listed below allow you to create revision timetables, find past exam papers, create your own study resources such as flashcards and mind maps, offer detailed revision guides for each GCSE subject and much more.

7. GCSE Tutoring

If you find GCSE preparation daunting and feel a bit lost in the process, consider using a GCSE tutor. Not only does a tutor have vast knowledge of the subjects you need to know, but they are also very experienced in the GCSE exam and revision process, having helped prepare many students before you.

Their expert knowledge and top tips can really make a difference, not only to your GCSE preparation and your performance on the day but also to your confidence, motivation and discipline.

Be sure to find a tutor experienced in the GCSE subjects you are taking, and they have a good track record with their past students. A tuition agency like JK Educate is perfect for GCSE tutoring, offering experienced GCSE tutors by subject, either online or face-to-face.

8. Practice Papers

Don’t leave past papers or practice exam papers until the end of your preparation. Start testing yourself early as this is not only a great active recall method but it prepares you for the exam environment and timings.

You can find past GCSE exam papers to download on these sites:

9. Practice With Peers

Whether it be a maths revision session in the library with your bestie or a biology quiz with a group of friends, try to incorporate revision and preparation with friends and peers.

Be careful which study partners you choose. Just because your best mate is fun doesn’t mean they will make the best study partner. Or indeed that you will both be a good influence on each other’s capacity to focus. It goes both ways!

The benefit of revising with others is that you can try out each other’s methods of learning and testing. The interaction freshens things up, and the active recall used when being questioned by others is a great way to revise. And it’s definitely more fun than sitting in your bedroom alone.

10. Beware of procrastination

If you tend to put things off until the last minute, then you will need to be extra disciplined with yourself. GCSE preparation is not something that can be crammed into a few weeks before your exams.

If you struggle to focus on your revision, be sure to ask for help. A GCSE tutor can really help your motivation and momentum. Alternatively, your school may provide revision study sessions or help you with specific areas of difficulty.

GCSE Preparation With A Tutor

If you’d like to work with a tutor but don’t know where to start, here are some of the essential skills and prerequisites you should look for in a GCSE tutor:

  • Previous experience with GCSE or IGCSE exam criteria
  • Previous experience teaching the key subjects of maths, English and the sciences
  • Familiarity with the exam board
  • Genuine teaching ability
  • An engaging and enthusiastic teaching style

JK Educate’s GCSE tutors are hand-picked and highly qualified GCSE revision tutors who are supported by JK’s in-house training academy. When you get GCSE tutoring from JK Educate, you can be sure that each session is bespoke and tailored to the individual’s needs.

We offer a flexible approach to tuition, enabling students to have as many or as few tutoring sessions as they wish through face-to-face or online sessions.

Get in touch

If you want to have the best chance of success in your GCSE exams, get in touch with us today.

We can tailor tutoring to suit your specific needs and often hold workshops and mock exam practice sessions to boost your skills, knowledge and confidence.

Call us on 020 3488 0754, email us at or complete our online enquiry form.


JK Newsletter

Sign up for invaluable advice, tips and news from JK Educate