As an experienced private tutoring and mentoring service for GCSE and Alevels, we know all the ins and outs of the education system and how to best support students through these challenging and impactful years.
Here are 3 questions students and parents ask us frequently about GCSEs:
Why are GCSE years so important?
Getting good results in the GCSE years (ie. Year 10 and year 11 in the UK education curriculum) is important because these two years impact students’ education path in Alevels and university, and therefore their career potentials. The grades a student gets in GCSE years and the final GCSE exams impacts the kinds and caliber of subjects students can choose for their Alevels years. Most Alevel subjects require a minimum of a 6 in GCSEs but most frequently, students with 7s or higher get their choice of subjects. Students who are able to take the subjects they prefer in Alevels enter the critical year 12 and 13 with a sense of self esteem, confidence and feel comfortable knowing they will be studying subjects they chose and maybe even feel passion for.
Students who can choose their preferred subjects and have greater confidence typically tend to do better in the Alevels exams.
Why does my son/daughter feel so much pressure and unfairness?
It seems unfair deciding young people’s life path when they are so young and in the height of their challenging teenage years – and you may be absolutely right to think this! We often think this too and it’s definitely a point in education policy we always reflect on.
However, for the moment, as we always advise young people, beyond feeling anger towards unfairness and exam pressure, we need to be pragmatic and smart to make the best out of the current circumstances and reality. This means having a mature and responsible attitude and doing everything possible to develop this way of thinking – Often, having a wise mentor to speak to during the GCSE years can really help shift mentality.
This is why our GCSE and Alevels tutors are hired and trained to be mentors. They speak to students each lesson in an inspiring and encouraging and real way so that students understand we understand their world, their challenges and the pressure they feel. But we still teach them and advise “rising above systems, even unfair systems”!
How come no one teaches how to do exams?
One of the most complained about issues that GCSE students and their parents make is why exams matter so much when no one really teaches students HOW to best write exams. We agree and empathise! Our education system tests and exams frequently, with final GCSE and Alevels exams holding so much weight, but our schools, teachers and the curriculum from primary school onwards rarely emphasise exam writing techniques or exam revision skills. This is a a vital skill students are left to learn independently through trial and error. When we empathise with students who make this complaint, we see their eyes fill with tears! It’s as if someone has seen the gap in a system that teaches only information based knowledge but has never taught the method and mechanic behind testing.
Usually, private tutors fill this important gap. We teach the mechanics of exam writing by testing and mock examining our students over and over again in subject-specific questions based on their examination board. We set targets and specific goals for them to do at least one past exam question each week for each subject and we mark them, teach them how their exam board’s marking scheme works, what the exact requirements are and show them how their answers have left gaps they need to fill to get the full mark.
The best part of tutoring in exam skills is that it’s a skill that makes students more independent and self-sufficient and therefore much more confident! Confident students tend to then thrive in all their studies!