The Skipton Academy

Home Support – Helping Y11 prepare for GCSE


The aim of this document contains information on proven evidence-based strategies that will help Year 11 as they continue to prepare for their summer exams. This information was shared with the pupils in a recent assembly. We know how important it is that the messages they receive are consistent and we welcome your continued support to help them make the most of the remaining revision time.

“It’s not too late!”
It is very easy for pupils to become demotivated and despondent as they see the amount of work they have to cover. Neuroscience tells us that the brain makes new neurons (vital for memory and learning) every day – and that this process accelerates as pupils study and revise. In other words, just the act of trying to learn and recall information improves how well the brain works!

“Little and often”
Revising in large chunks is not effective. Spreading out revision so that pupils can regularly return to topics will improve how easily they can recall information. Rather than having a revision timetable that has a 2 hour block on a subject, it would be better to have several 20 minute sessions on different subjects, which are returned to repeatedly over different days.

“Keeping Positive”
The summer exam season is a stressful time of year for both pupils and parents/carers. We appreciate how difficult it can be to maintain a positive and calm environment when the pupil themselves may be feeling very anxious and this can manifest in them displaying a variety of emotions and behaviour. Stress, anxiety and anger all lead to a reduction in the ability of the brain to recall information and process it.


At night, the brain “replays” the learning of the previous day, helping it to be laid-down in long-term memory. Research shows pupils score higher on a test when they had done the learning the previous day than when they were tested the same day. This process is disrupted, however, when games are played on computers/devices as the brain then ‘replays’ this activity instead of the learning/revision – pupils scored significantly lower in tests as a result.

“Effective Revision – what works? What doesn’t?”


Quizzes – Flash cards – Self-testing

These are by far the most effective way of revising – using the same quizzes repeatedly will improve memory recall. Using quizzes and flashcards with others, making it a competition will further increase the benefits.


20 minute repeated sessions

Revising little and often, returning to topics frequently, rather than long ‘cramming’ sessions where you do not have the opportunity to return to the information.


Sleep and Exercise

A good night’s sleep is not only important to help you concentrate the next day, it is essential for the learning of the previous day to be stored in long-term memory. Exercise is not only good for your body – it is good for your brain. Just 20 minutes of exercise, three times a week, increases the size of the part of the brain associated with learning!


Writing out notes and re-reading them…

A favourite of many pupils, this has little impact on learning and recalling information. It can work – but you have to do it for much longer than other techniques, such as frequent self-testing (quizzes)


Computer/Ipad/Iphone games at the end of a day…

Playing games at the end of a day disrupts your brain’s ability to store the valuable learning and revision you have done that day and will reduce your memory and recall. Play games at the start of the day! (Watching television and surfing the internet does not have the same negative effect)



If you are feeling anxious, worried, angry, or stressed, it affects how well you can recall facts or apply information in exam situations.

To reduce this effect and help your exam performance, just write down how you are feeling before the exam! Try it!

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