Exam prep stress? Here’s how to combat it

maths and science tutor

Is it too early to prepare for exams? Of course not. In fact, the earlier you start, the more time you have to focus on things that concern you by asking for extra help to iron out those creases. If you are a little pressed for time, no worries. What matters is that you are using whatever time you have left to make a difference to the exam preparation. We have included tips on how to combat exam prep stress, including prioritising your subjects and getting an English, maths and science tutor.

Ensure you have all the exam information you need

Once you are sure of things such as date, time and venue, you will have one less thing to be stressed about on exam day. Go a step further by ensuring that you also know what section of your work to prepare for. Nothing can cause extreme anxiety like studying the wrong thing and showing up to your exam not knowing any of the work.

Prioritise your subjects

There are subjects you are really good at, and some that need you to spend a little more time trying to gain a better understanding. Those that need the most attention should be at the top of your priority list. This does not mean the subjects at the bottom do not need your attention; however, these are ones you could do well in with less time invested towards them. You will also be able to get through this work faster. To figure out which subjects should be your top priority, list all your subject and add a number, from 1 to 10, next to each one with 1 being the subject you are least comfortable and 10 being the subject you do really well in.

Make a revision timetable ahead of your exam date

Timetables are there to keep you accountable and on track – don’t set any unrealistic expectations for yourself. If you know that you struggle to stay focused due to lack of sleep, don’t set a study schedule that will leave you with 3 hours of sleep. An unrealistic timetable will eventually demotivate you, resulting in you possibly falling behind schedule. Here is what you should include in your revision timetable:

  • List of things you will do each day
  • Actual time allocations
  • Regular breaks
  • Time to read through the day’s work
  • Study goals for the day
  • Regular commitments, such as sport and extra classes
  • When to complete past papers

It is also okay to revisit your timetable as you progress through the work. If you dedicated 5 days for your English work and you understand it in 3 days, use the 2 days to revise another subject. This will help you make the most of your time rather than sit through repetitive sections.

Consider getting help from an English, maths and science tutor

The one-fits-all approach to teaching methods may be the concept you are struggling to grasp. English, maths and science are subjects that may require that you get an individualised approach to the work. At Spark, we focus on the overall development of the student so that they are equipped with the knowledge to solve their English, maths and science work, even when their tutor is not there. Our science lesson structure places emphasis on understanding theory.

Avoid other stressed students

You may think that your stress will bring you together to reach common ground, but the result could be the complete opposite. They could be worried about things that are not an issue to you, however, you will begin to stress about how they could be right. Remember, your strengths are not the same so try to focus on what is beneficial to you.

 

Bonus points

  • Take realistic breaks. Don’t use these to do any other schoolwork.
  • Split your study time into bite-size sessions. You can use a timing method such as the Pomodoro Technique.
  • Get active. Sitting in one place the whole day can cause you to become lethargic. Go for walks regularly.
  • Use your phone, but not for social media. Your phone has many capabilities and tools to make studying easier
  • Stay away from caffeine and maintain a healthy diet.

 

Tutoring centres offer many benefits, which include building confidence and accountability. Spark Academy’s tutoring classes are small so that each student is assisted and engages through peer learning. If you are looking for an English, maths and science tutor, get in touch.

Celebrating Pupil Progress

As our parents will know, at Spark Academy we have just finished completing our Spring term assessments. Although we see progress every lesson when we see our students, we understand that it’s important for students and parents to see progress in test scores too – both at Spark and at school.

We have been very proud of our students this term. Across the board we have seen improvement from last term in every class – and some of our students have absolutely outdone themselves!

 

Which students have progressed the most?

 

While all of our students have progressed, it’s always nice to celebrate a few individuals or classes. Spark Ideas would like to say a big congratulations to:

 

 

Radhika (Year 5 at Belgrave)

 

Radhika has worked very hard since joining Spark in the Autumn term. She has progressed fantastically well in her sentence writing and understanding of spelling, punctuation and grammar, as well as making big strides in her Maths work. Her determination to succeed is definitely paying off!

 

 

Maya-Diyaa (Year 4 at Belgrave)

 

Maya-Diya has made great strides in her spelling and reading comprehension since she joined Spark. Her hard work has been supporting her both at Spark and at school – keep it up!

 

Eshaan (Year 3 at Oadby)

 

Eshaan never fails to be positive during his lessons at Spark and has worked exceptionally hard to improve his own understanding of literacy and numeracy. Eshaan’s hard work has been noticed both here and at school – his teacher has been impressed by his improved number skills and his understanding of similes!

 

Our Entire Year 4 Oadby Class

 

Yes, the whole class! This group of students have worked consistently throughout this term to improve their understanding. In English specifically, every student made a significant improvement from last term – before Christmas most were finding spelling, punctuation and grammar difficult, but through dedication the whole class has come on in leaps and bounds. Well done Year 4!

 

Adnan (Year 10 Oadby)

 

Adnan is an individual who is totally determined to succeed in his GCSEs next year. He consistently puts in 100% every week and in every homework, which is helping his progression enormously. In his tests at school, Adnan has already improved by almost two full grades since October. Congratualations Adnan and keep it up!

 

Rahul (Year 11 Belgrave)

 

Rahul is a student who has really sat up and took notice this term – he has begun working hard in lessons and submitting homework every week, which has made a big difference to his work. He is progressing well and on his way towards achieving his target grades when he sits his exams in a few weeks.

 

Congratulations to all of our pupils who have made progress this term – we look forward to celebrating you again soon!

Teacher Talk: Lively Literature

This week’s Teacher Talk is all about literature – specifically thinking about our Year 7 classes, who have just finished a topic on A Christmas Carol.

 

 

Why study A Christmas Carol?

 

Charles Dickens is one of the most well-known writers in English Literature and A Christmas Carol is one of his most famous works. The novella is chosen by many schools as a GCSE text to study in Year 10 and 11, which makes it a perfect choice for our Year 7s. Not only does studying the book at Spark help them to understand the content ready to study it further in future, but it also gives the students a great chance to start analysing nineteenth-century literature. Language was a little bit different in the 1800s, which many students find tough at first. However, after a few weeks all of our Year 7s were making leaps and bounds in understanding the novella!

Our classes took a tour of everything important about the novel. This included the plot, the characters, the context and how to start answering an exam-style question…

One of the most interesting areas we looked at was context. Our groups really enjoyed learning about the little differences between how we live and how people lived in the 19th century. In particular, we had lots of discussions on how the treatment of the poor then was very different to now – and all agreed we’d rather live in our time then theirs!

 

Creative Character Discussion

 

Another fascinating part of A Christmas Carol is the characters. All of our students studied the main characters in the novel. These included Scrooge, Bob Cratchit, Tiny Tim and the three Ghosts.

One class, taught by Charlotte, decided they were going to take on the role of teacher themselves. The students were each given one character from A Christmas Carol and were given the task to create a mind map discussing their characters attributes.

 

 

They then created their mind map on the board, whilst teaching the rest of the class facts about their character. The class then made notes on these facts and began to build up a better understanding of the characters in the text.

 

 

Each student then had a range of characters that they understand in excellent detail. They also demonstrated their higher level thinking skills. They were able to understand, condense and re-explain information to their fellow students.
This kind of activity is fantastic to get students reading, analysing and pushing to develop their understanding of a text. Characters are a very significant part of any literature; our students proved to be experts in analysing them!

What are the benefits of Group Tuition?

Whenever it comes to tuition, it always boils down to two methods of studying: either in a group, or in a one-to-one scenario. At Spark Academy, we are all very strong advocates of group study, and this blog post will give you some of the reasons why we think group learning is the best!

 

Year 3 students at the Belgrave branch writing stories using cue cards they created themselves.

 

Avoiding Boredom and Learning Faster

 

Studying by yourself, especially for long periods of time, can and will become boring! This is especially true if it is a topic or a subject that you are unsure about the first place. It’s easy to become distracted when you have questions that need answering.

 

By joining group tuition, you can blow the boredom away. Because of the social factor of group study, you can always find someone to support you if begin to struggle with something. At Spark, tutors teach through the content during the lesson so students are more confident approaching tasks.

 

A little bit of silliness at the end of lesson just goes to show our students really do form good relationships with each other and their teachers.

 

In general, students that work in groups learn faster than students that work on their own. This is because of the collaborative factors involved in group tuition. For instance, if there is a topic you cannot get your head around, there might be someone else who understands it straightaway. Whilst studying in a group, rather than wasting time, you can simply get the answer by simply asking someone else. If someone struggles with a topic that you understand, you might be able to help your fellow student as well!

Group tuition allows you to find new study techniques. Your tutors can help you see different ways of revising and remembering key information. These can help you in your own revision and at school.

 

Gaining new perspectives

 

In one-to-one tuition, you will only view your revision material from one perspective: yours!

Whereas this is not necessarily a problem, you might just need a fresh perspective to help you learn the material more thoroughly. Particularly in subjects like English Literature, talking about different interpretations and idea can hep you dive deeper into a text and have more to say in your exams.

 

Year 7s prepare to teach each other about the characters in A Christmas Carol and share their ideas.

 

By being in a study group, you notice a wide variety of viewpoints on the same subject. This could help you see the position from another’s points of view, therefore developing your critical thinking skills while helping you study.

By comparing notes and methods with others, you can patch up the gaps in your knowledge a lot faster than doing it on your own. One the flip side, you can help others fix their misunderstandings and help them learn better techniques as well.

 

Holistic Benefits of Group Tuition

 

One hidden benefit that no-one really talks about is that group tuition is a way to help build confidence and social skills as well as supporting students academically. Many of the students who come to Spark are shy and feel lost in a class of 30. By studying topics in a small group, our students build their confidence to a higher level. We often find students become more willing to join in and offer ideas during their group tuition and this new-found confidence translates to school as well.

A Year 6 class at our Oadby branch, based in Manor High School. The school offered Year 6 up until 2017 and thought Spark’s SATs preparation was top notch.

Group tuition at Spark Academy

 

The staff at Spark Academy practise what we preach! We believe group tuition is best way for students to gain the support they need for their school work, as the benefits are not just academic.

So, let’s see what group work can do for you, we’re just a phone call away!

Student Thought: No Stuffy SATs Prep at Spark

When we think of students preparing for exams, most of us think of GCSEs. We even posted about Spark’s GCSE preparation here but they aren’t the only students in an important year. Our Year 6s are in full SATs swing now and enjoying the support that Spark offers in the run up to their exams.

It’s not just in our own after school lessons that we offer SATs support. Over the past two years Spark has been supporting schools with their preparation – you can read all about our successes here.

 

What do the Year 6s study at Spark?

 

Like all of our Year groups, the Year 6s follow the national curriculum. For them, this includes the content that they will be tested on in May and exam skills practise. They will be tested on numeracy and numerical reasoning for Maths and spelling, punctuation, grammar and comprehension in English. This is exactly what they spend their time at Spark studying.

 

What do the Year 6s have to say about Spark?

 

Rhea told us that she enjoys

 

learning interesting things

 

to support her SATs preparation. Mohammed said that at Spark

 

they go over stuff that school doesn’t […] and adapt lessons to your learning

 

which goes to show the dedication that the Spark teachers put in to making sure that SATs preparation is relevant to each class and each individual student.

Many of the students commented on how much they enjoyed the lessons each week because of

 

a variety of activities

 

SATs related games and because they

 

enjoy how the teachers teach

 

Of course, much of the preparation for SATs involves exam-style questions and practise papers, but we’ll thrilled to hear how much our students enjoy our lessons!

 

Is Spark the best place for SATs prep?

 

Over half of the students we asked told us that they didn’t look anywhere else for tuition. We thought that was a big compliment! The others told us that they chose Spark over other providers because

 

it gave me better education

 

and

 

it stood out from the rest

 

which is always fantastic to hear.

 

Are there any places left for Year 6?

 

Now that we’re so close, our classes are filling up quickly. There are a few spots left across our two sites but you will need to be quick; book your free trial today!

 

 

Teacher Talk: Understanding Literature

This week’s Teacher Talk is from our English teachers. Literature is an important aspect of studying English, but for many students reading something written almost 100 years ago can be a little off-putting. Our teachers share some of their ideas for bringing great novels to life in tuition.

 

Why do we study literature at Spark?

 

Literature isn’t just important because it’s on the GCSE curriculum. Reading is a way of thinking about the world in a different way. This can be especially important when thinking about history. Many of the novels studied in schools are chosen because of their important place within history and Animal Farm is no exception.

 

 

Why Animal Farm?

 

Most of our Year 9 students had never heard of George Orwell’s Animal Farm. That is, until we started studying it at the beginning of January. Now they not only know what happens during the novella, but they’ve also started to understand the difference between communism, socialism and capitalism. They’ve explored the impact of propaganda and thought critically about their own political ideas. And of course they’ve sharpened their analytical and writing skills!

 

How does studying a novel work at Spark?

 

As we teach our students once a week for English, we aren’t able to read through the whole text in class. What we can do though, is look at important extracts that demonstrate the key themes and characters.

We started our study of Animal Farm by exploring the key themes and how they are presented in the text.

 

 

We looked at context and the main characters involved in the novel.

 

Students did their own research into some of the key terms at home before we looked at more detailed context together.

 

It was important for the students to understand how the characters in Animal Farm parallel the real-life politicians during the Russian Revolution.

Most recently we looked at the use of propaganda in the novel. We used this as an opportunity to consider how each of us would run a farm. Our student wrote a speech and created a poster campaign to showcase their ideas.

Students peer-marked each others speeches to think about their use of persuasive techniques. They also check spelling, punctuation and grammar.

 

Some tables worked as a group to share ideas on their slogan and logo, before creating their own poster.

 

Slogans and main campaign points definitely stand out here!

 

Lots of colour helps the campaign points stand out on this poster. You can see where another student has peer-marked this speech in purple pen.

 

We try to make our lessons engaging and interactive for our students. By introducing creativity and asking our students to question their own ideas, we encourage them not only to explore the text we’re studying but to examine it place in their lives. Showcasing your plan for running ‘Animal Farm’ is a good way of understanding how the themes and characters in the novel realistically relate to your own life.

 

Are you interested in reading Animal Farm? You can read it online here.

Who is December’s Student of the Month?

It’s time to celebrate another student of the month here at Spark Academy. Our holidays mean that our lessons end this week – but that doesn’t mean that our student of the month is any less deserving.

As you know we’ve already nominated two students to celebrate: Neha Patni and Shreya Kumari. You can read all about their nominations by following the links.

 

What should we know about December’s student of the month?

 

This month we are celebrating a student from our Oadby site – for the first time this year! Once again we have chosen this particular student because he (yep, another first for this year!) has been nominated by more than one teacher.

In fact, this particular student had nominations from three different teachers. We have to say we were very impressed by all of the wonderful things everyone had to say.

We’d like to offer a huge congratulations to Adnan Ahmad, December’s Student of the Month!

 

Tell us more about Adnan!

 

Adnan is a Year 10 student at our Oadby site, attending Spark for English, Maths and Science. His nominations all came from English and Maths. Adnan’s Friday night class is in the unique position of being partially shared by both English and both Maths teachers. Therefore, Adnan’s efforts and determination have been noticed by everyone.

Let’s have a look at some of the wonderful reasons the teachers gave for nominating Adnan!

 

Working 1-1 with Adnan, I have seen the huge progress he has been making since he first joined. He uses feedback to improve his work, and remains positive if ever he is unsure of a topic. He continuously strives to improve his work, and tries his hardest every week.

Adnan definitely deserves this award.

Charlotte, English.

  

Adnan always tries really hard in his Maths lessons. If he does not understand anything he always makes sure he asks for help and has a good understanding by the end of the lesson. He is polite to everyone and always says thank you for helping him.

Katherine, Maths.

 

Adnan is always very positive during his lessons. He is always fully focused and ready to learn each week. This shows that he always puts in 100% effort. His work ethic and determination to improve his English work is very admirable, and he has a positive impact on everyone in the class.

Rebecca, English

 

Congratulations Adnan! Keep up the good work!

Parent Perspectives: Raves in our Reviews

In this week’s Parent Perspectives post, we thought we’d look somewhere a little different than usual. Many parents have been rating and posting reviews for Spark Academy for years – it’s time we celebrated their views!

 

Where can you rate and review?

 

Spark’s Facebook page is a perfect place for anyone looking to give us a rating or write a review. In fact, many parents have been doing just that! You might also know that we recently launched our Spark Forum. This is another amazing place where you can review or leave comments for the Spark team. You can even give us suggestions on how we could make Spark even better.

 

 

So now you know where you can go to rate, review and rave about us…

 

What sort of things have our parents been saying?

 

The first fantastic point we noticed when we looked at our Facebook reviews is that we have an amazing 5 star rating! This rating is averaged out over the years since our first Facebook review, which just goes to show that Spark is providing the same high quality tuition it has since opening.

 

 

Here are some highlights from our favourite reviews. It was tricky to choose from some many wonderful comments from our parents!

 

My boys will be joining this great teaching academy soon in January 2018. They will be working to their school level […] Spark Academy is far better – classroom based and a more professional set up.

P. S.

We strive to provide excellent tuition to support our students in their education, so it is always wonderful to hear that parents can see and appreciate everything we are doing!

 

The support has been priceless […] A designated time to study is key in getting excellent results. I knew I needed a great tutor service and was so pleased when Spark was recommended to me by a friend.

N. W.

Recommendations are another fantastic way so many of our parents review Spark. It’s great to hear that from their perspective, we’re so good they just can’t wait to tell others!

 

It’s clear to see the passion you have to teach and the desire to make every child a winner. I can’t fault anything you guys do. My kids love coming to Spark and they’re making great progress.

B. P.

Our small class sizes are key to our ability to make every child feel successful and vital to our lessons. And we’re always glad to hear our students enjoy coming to Spark!

 

How can you get involved?

 

If you’re a parent and you want to share your perspective on Spark, there are lots of ways to get involved. You can use our Facebook page, our Spark Forum, or you can comment on this post with your reviews!

Teacher Talk: Creativity and Perfecting Poetry

English at Spark Academy is nothing if not varied: from persuasion to poetry, and comprehension to creative writing. You only need to see our previous Teacher Talk posts to see that – you can read all about our work on political speeches and information retrieval by looking back through Spark Ideas. At the moment our Year 6 students are beginning their SATs preparation in earnest. This year is very important for them. This is why we have already started practising their reading and SPaG skills – but we also know there’s more to English than comprehension and grammar!

 

Why poetry?

 

That’s why we like to sprinkle some creativity in with our SATs preparation. Earlier this term, the Year 6 classes at both Oadby and Belgrave spent some time working on poetry. They learnt to create similes and metaphors. The classes also looked at more complex literary techniques: personification and hyperbole are two such techniques. These are all techniques that the students will be identifying and analysing all the way up to their GCSEs.

We looked at lots of different types of poetry, from acrostic poems to traditional poetic forms. Here are some examples of poems our amazing Year 6s wrote themselves!

 

An Acrostic Poem about Ice Cream

 

Ice cream, ice cream

Cookies and cream.

English toffee…

Chocolate chip and

Rocky Road.

Even strawberry or

Almond chocolate… but

Most certainly vanilla!

Ria J.

If anything could make us want to eat ice cream in December, it’s Ria’s clever poem.

 

The Vaccum

 

The vacuum sleeps in a dark store

Waiting to be picked up and roar.

You can give him anything to eat

When you press the button, it looks for meat.

It’s long giraffe neck

Is like a bird ready to peck –

It zooms around really fast

and when seen it looks very vast.

It always listens to me

(Not buzzing like a bumble bee).

It keeps things nice and clean.

He is always mighty and always mean.

R.

Amazing use of personification, similes and metaphors!

 

 

The Sea

 

The calm sea with no people around.

The violent sea when the wind blows all around.

The beautiful sea when the sun comes out.

The sea crashes against the rocks just like

thunder and lightning at night.

The sea is very warm when I jump in,

just like a warm coat on a frosty night.

Today the sea is quiet with no one in sight.

The sun shines on the sea when it’s bright.

Tomorrow we say goodbye to the sea…

For it’s time to catch our flight!

Kayaan V.

What beautiful imagery of the sea, all built up through similes and metaphors!

 

My Monster

 

We didn’t only write poetry in our lessons – some of our students also wanted to perform their poetry. Here is Ayman reading his monster poem on Halloween:

 

 

What do you think of the poems our Year 6s wrote? If you or your children have poems you’d like to share with us, we’d love to read them!

What are Mital’s Top Ten Tips for Success?

Spark Academy’s founder Mital Thanki is obviously very successful. Otherwise Spark wouldn’t be doing so well! Earlier this year, Mital wrote an article for The Eastern Eye about her ‘Top Ten Tips for Success’. We thank the Eastern Eye for letting us use some of her ideas to share with you today!

 

1. Turn Big Dreams into Goals!

 

 

All good businesses start with an idea. Then a lot of thought and planning is needed to turn your big dream into reality. This is only possible when you set goals for yourself and plan on how you are going to get there. By breaking your big dreams into small goals, you can structure your plan and help to form your strategy for the future.

 

2. Turn your Passion into Profession

 

Don’t let money be your only driving factor. Confucius said

 

Choose a job you love and you will never work a day in your life

 

This is a motto I live by. If you are passionate about your work, you will continue to work at it even through the hard times. Eventually, your drive, passion and enthusiasm will be noticed. It’s people who recognise the importance of loving what you do who achieve the most success.

3. Believe in your Ideas and Go with your Gut

 

It’s essential that you trust your instincts. This is how you will take your business from strength to strength. At Spark Academy, we shout out about all of our successes – big and small! It’s important to me that our parents and students know what our vision is and how close we are to achieving it.

 

4. Be Prepared to Make Sacrifices

 

Owning your own business, yet challenging. Successful people will sacrifice personal and social time to build their business. You might need to be prepared to sacrifice your financial stability, your work-life balance and your comfort. However, you should remember that after a few years your hard work will really start to pay off.

 

5. Learn from Failures and Never Give Up

 

Making mistakes is an important lesson that gives you an opportunity to start again with more experience. Failing is just one step on the road to meeting your challenges head on. Don’t let struggles put you off your goals. Instead, think of it like a learning opportunity – it creates stepping stones on the way to greatness.

 

6. Be the Best in Your Field

 

Dedicate a part of your working time to your own professional development. Take time out to network, study the competition, attend courses and conferences. If you talk about the hot topics in your field, you will enhance your credibility and get yourself noticed. Spark Academy is the proud winner of several local and national awards – this is an indication of how dedicate we are to being the best.

 

7. Look after Your Team

 

Unless you are the only one working in your business, your team is the most important piece of your organisation. Have fun and develop a culture of compassion and love for one another. Celebrate small wins and encourage friendships. This helps to create a positive environment to work and thrive.

 

8. Maintain Discipline

 

Planning your daily tasks is essential when trying to kick-start or grow a venture. You must invest time into this and make it work for you. Know yourself and work when you are most productive. Remain committed to a timetable and maintain your routine.

 

9. Listen to Your Body

 

It’s important to know your signs of burn-out. When you are running on empty, feeling anxious or overwhelmed, remind yourself that you’re human. You’re not a machine! Make sure you get plenty of rest and eat well. Try meditating or keep a hobby to help recharge you after a difficult week.

 

10. Keep Your Vision Alive

 

Your vision is what you will build all of your success around. Take time to write a clear vision statement. Create a vision board filled with pictures, quotes and key words that highlight your ideas. The work you do needs to reflect your vision. You can help yourself achieve this by surrounding yourself by people who contribute to your success. Never lose faith and just keep going!