Let’s face it, GCSE Maths isn’t a popular subject for the majority of students in the UK. A lot of students find the subject boring, irrelevant or too difficult. As a home tutor in Mathematics I have experienced ‘first hand’ a lot of these opinions regarding GCSE Mathematics. I have also successfully helped over 120 students through their GCSE Maths exams with over 85% of these obtaining at least a grade C. Some have even gone on to study the subject at A level, as a result of the one to one tuition that I have provided. So what is the secret to the success in GCSE Maths? Well before I go into detail, I want to firstly outline the 5 key areas in where I know students make mistakes. From here it will be clear as to how to succeed in the subject.
Mistake #1 Negative beliefs “I don’t understand the subject therefore I never will”
Getting rid of limiting beliefs is one key area to succeeding in the subject. I have lost count the number of times that I have heard students say that they will never understand Algebra or Trigonometry. This is simply not true. A lot of students attempt questions that are far too difficult to begin with, remember as the Chinese say a journey of a thousand miles starts with a first step. Firstly learn the step by step procedures to in Algebra or Trigonometry or whatever it is that you are having problems in, this is the magic recipe if you will that you can then apply to help solve the problems. From there on you can then apply this to more difficult problems. You will find that as you progress and you begin to get questions right, your confidence will subsequently improve.
Mistake #2 Not practising enough “Not enough practice results in poor performance”
Remember that GCSE Maths is very much like a sport, you need to practice otherwise you will become rusty. I realise that not a lot of schools allow students to take home GCSE Maths text books. In this case you need to take responsibility and get yourself a GCSE Maths text book from the library, WHSMITHS, Waterstones or even from Amazon. You usually get a good second hand book from Amazon for as little as £10. Make sure it has answers in the back, not to be used for cheating mind! The reason being for this is that you can do the exercises in the book then check your answers afterwards. I also strongly recommend getting lots and lots of past exam papers so that you can practice the questions and get a feel for what they are going to be like.
Mistake #3 Poor GCSE Study Skills “Poor organisation results in poor progress”
This is a general study tip here that you can apply to all your subjects. Remember you have to organise your time effectively. Plan out your week meticulously. Work out when you can spend time on Maths, English, Science etc... Then within this plan sub divide your time. So for example you may allocate 8 hours a week for Maths. From this 2 hours could be spent on Past papers, 3 hours on weak topics and 3 hours on revision etc. Remember discipline here is the key. You have to make a plan and stick to it. I am not advocating ‘all work and no play’ but in Year 11 exams are looming and you need to be prepared to make sacrifices.
Mistake #4 Spending too much on topics you are good at “ignoring weaknesses results in failure”
I see time after time a lot of students who focus far too much on topics that they are stronger on. What is the point of that? Remember the exam will test a wide range of topics including the ones that you not so good at, so you need to ensure that you cover as many of your weak areas as possible to bring them up to the same standard as your stronger topics.
Mistake #5 Not getting help “I will look stupid if I ask for help”
Nobody deep down likes to admit that they need help, they feel it is a weakness and something that will expose an inadequacy. I would argue that it shows a strength of character. After all aren’t you wanting to improve your situation and get better? If you don’t want a tutor, then there are GCSE Maths forums that you can use, so there are always options open to you. If you do struggle with Maths then a tutor is an invaluable resource. There are many home tuition agencies out there, getting a younger more modern teacher may be more appealing, without meaning to sound ageist.