When should I start revising for GCSEs or A-Levels?

by Anita Naik

The average recommended time to start your key revision is two to three months before your first exam. This gives you enough time to go over every subject and topic you need to ensure you remember it on the day. That said this is a very rough estimate. When to start revising for GCSEs or A-Levels really depends on where you are right now in terms of grades. Here's how to work out what you need to do.

Look at the specification for each subject

To work when you need to start your revision, you need to look at the subjects you are studying. Specific topics require a longer revision time than others due to the scope of the exam specification.

For instance, revising for Chemistry and subjects like maths. physics and languages take more time than other subjects. These subjects all have a broad spectrum of topics that need to be learnt, which means you need to allow yourself enough time to break topics into digestible chunks so you can study them little and often.

Consider your mock results

Your mock results and the revision you did for your mocks will also give you a good indication of when you should start revision. If you did poorly because you didn't leave yourself enough time, then you need to factor in a longer league time and start as soon as possible.

If your grades were good, then follow the same revision path as last time, but make extra time for more past papers so you can focus on exam technique.

Check you know how to revise

This may seem like an obvious point, but the fact is that not everyone knows how to revise. If you don't have a plan or a timetable, you run the risk of not covering all the topics you need in time for your exams. Also, GCSE revision tends to be different in scope to A-Level revision, so make sure you understand what you need to know before you start. Check out our blog posts on revising for A-Level Biology and History to find out more.

Then spend time now coming up with a timetable that makes your revision an active process. A proper schedule should have set days and times for studying each topic. As well as time for writing revision notes on each topic, using flashcards and diagrams (where appropriate), and doing past paper examinations.

Know your revision strengths

Only you know the best revision technique for you to ensure better memory retention and recall, but always try to pace yourself, and not do too much too soon. Revision should be little and often.

What can also help here is to form a study group with peers, so you are covering all the topic areas but still opening up to different opinions and insights on subjects.

Know your revision weaknesses

It also pays to be honest, and acknowledge your weaknesses before you start revision. What knowledge gaps do you have? Are you bad at organising yourself, or do you get distracted from the task at hand? All these factors point to a longer revision time period and extra help from a teacher or tutor.

Don't dismiss the subjects with limited revision material

It's easy to ignore the subjects that look like you don't need to do any work for like GCSE English so make sure you factor in revision time for them too. Past papers will help with your summarising and comprehension skills and analysing the writer's choice of language. Likewise, if you are doing English Literature make sure you know the set texts and precisely what the examining board want from you.

Seek extra help

It's never too late to work on upping a grade level or filling knowledge gaps. We have tutors across every subject and level who can help you.