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.

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!

 

 

Spark Top Tips for GCSE Maths Exam Success

For those of you who are looking towards your GCSE revision now, here are our Top Tips for GCSE Maths success!

Getting formulas onto one page.

 

When revising for Maths, creating a formula sheet is an effective way to kick-start your work! You should include formulas that will and will not be given to you in your exam. This will also give you a quick point of reference when doing revision practice. By constant referral to your formula sheet you will find it easier to memorise them and to use them more accurately.

Past paper practice.

 

This is single-handedly the most important tip out there. With Maths, there is nothing more valuable than practising questions. By marking your attempts against official mark schemes you can see where you have gone wrong and what examiners are looking for.

Balance revision.

 

In GCSEs, pupils often miss out revising certain topics because they think it is beyond their understanding. If you have a weak link, work to improve your confidence because it can stop you gaining marks in questions that relate to your ‘strong’ topics. Focus your revision on the topics you are struggling with so you aren’t blindsided in the exam.

Revise your calculator.

 

You NEED to know your calculator inside out. It is so easy to mess up the answer to a whole question because you inputted a number incorrectly; you rounded too soon; you put the brackets in the wrong place. Don’t let your hard work and revision be ruined in the exam by silly mistakes on a calculator.

Time yourself.

 

When attempting past papers to begin with, give yourself more time than is allocated because you will need to refer to your notes and look things up. The closer the exam gets, though, the more important it is to practise papers in timed conditions. Furthermore, you need to get to a point where you don’t use your notes to help you. You might think to yourself that you will be fine and remember them on the day, but if you don’t try to go ‘blind’ beforehand, there is a risk you will draw a blank with certain methods and formulas when you really need them!

If you take these tips on board, success will follow.

Teacher Talk: Curiosity and Creative Physics

Today’s Teacher Talk focuses on one of Spark Academy’s newest subjects: A-Level Physics. Nic Hey, Head of Science, has introduced the subject this year so she can share her passion with the next generation of scientists.

‘Physics: the science frontier. These are the voyages of the students at Spark, and their continuing mission to explore strange new concepts and to boldly go where no Sparkie has gone before…’

Some of you will be familiar with the influence for the above statement and where it has come from: Star Trek. However, you don’t have to be a science fiction buff or fit into a nerdy stereotype to study A-Level physics.

 

Why should you study physics?

 

The world of physics is more open and diverse than ever. If you can think outside the box, collaborate with your peers and work tirelessly to solve problems then A-Level Physics can lead to exciting opportunities at University and in the world of work.

As Head of Science, I teach all three sciences but I am especially passionate about all things physics. I studied at the University Of Leicester and received an Honours Degree in Physics with Astrophysics so I like to share my knowledge and experiences. Anything is possible if you put your mind to it. I’ve visited Space Exploration Mission Controls (in Houston & Moscow) and been to the Large Hadron Collider (CERN) in Switzerland.

I have seven years of teaching and personal experience in the world of physics. It is this experience that I draw on. I provide students with opportunities to learn, build their confidence and broaden their horizons. I also like to encourage students to study physics further. We will always need new ideas and new scientists!

 

Where can I find you and what’s involved?

 

Here at Spark we offer A-Level Physics tuition at our Oadby site (Manor High School) for both years 12 and 13, but it’s not your standard tuition.

Our experiments so far have included making ripple tanks to demonstrate the interference patterns of waves;

 

and using jelly beans and rainbow laces to show Feynman diagrams and the interaction of subatomic particles.

 

 

Student creativity and imagination can flourish in our lessons. We explore creativity as a way of solving problems and used to visualise concepts in three dimensions. These are some of the important skills we develop in our tuition sessions.

Students are encouraged to actively take part in lessons. This could be through practical experiences, asking questions or solving problems together on the board. The most important trait needed for any physics course is curiosity. Spark students are encouraged to want to know more and more!

If you are studying physics as one of your A-levels, come along and try us out. Our aim is to build confidence and help you master the subject. Book in for a free trial to see if Spark is right for you.

Surviving Sixth Form

As we approach the final weeks before Christmas, some of you will look back and feel your first term at Sixth Form hasn’t been plain sailing. We spoke to Mital to get some advice for Year 12s. If her advice is as good as her A-level classes, you know you’re in good hands!

Sixth form. Sure, in essence it’s just the same as school –studying subjects and gaining qualifications. But as you are probably aware by now, it is a whole different environment. Free periods, no uniform, independent study, less subjects, more freedom – sounds great, right? Yeah sure, it is for a while, but the procrastination between lessons has led to your workload piling up. Crying might seem like the only option… And you no longer get excited about wearing your own clothes. If only you could wear pyjamas rather than make an effort!

The difficulty of the modules, the amount of deadlines and lack of structure can be an overwhelming adjustment. However, there are ways to overcome the stress of sixth form:

Time Management

 

You might not have a student planner anymore but this does not mean you don’t need one. It will become crucial to record your lessons, deadlines, targets and to-do-lists.

With the glorious introduction of free lessons, it feels like you have won the lottery, but this free time is an opportunity for you to get lots of work and deadlines done within school hours so you are able to use your time at home to get a head-start on reviewing your lessons and making revision notes. Wait? What? Revision notes already? Yes, now is the time to make revision notes but it will bail you out later on. The depth of the GCSE subjects you took pales into comparison to A-Level courses and so it will become important to revise as you go along rather than leaving it to the last minute.

Organisation

 

Sixth form may mean that you no longer use exercise books in lessons. It’s really important that you have a system in place for keeping track or your notes. You might want to buy folders for each of your subjects. Have sections so you can divide your class notes, revision notes, homeworks and past papers.

Balance

 

Organisation, time management and proactivity – mega important. But also making sure you have a good work life balance is just as necessary. Don’t forget to hang out with your friends, for a much needed break Remember the importance of regular exercise and a balanced diet– these help maintain a healthy state of mind for working. There is a lot that needs to be done but don’t burn yourself out!

Sixth form can be a daunting and an overwhelming adjustment, but it takes time to master the level of independence and increasing difficulty and depth of the work. We’ve discussed how to make the transition easier but also remember that this change is preparing you well for university. University lacks a lot of structure, more free lessons, less discipline and less guidance. This is all a process of growing up and becoming independent characters and your sixth form college is providing the first steps in this transformation. So take the bull by the horns and take control of your sixth form learning experience.