Franklins Study Tips – How to prepare for IGCSE
Franklins Study Tips – How to prepare for IGCSE
For my study process or routine that I will share with you, it just involved two simple parts. Many people like to overthink different ways of studying for your exam but for me simplicity is what worked best, based on hard work.
What are the two simple parts to how I studied?
- Note taking.
Your brain is not going to remember every bit of information so don’t even try to walk into the exam hall thinking you’re an expert because ‘you remember everything from class’. You may think you do, but you probably don’t, unless you’re a genius, which I by the way am not.
When you are in class, Listen!
I am not saying take down detailed notes in class or write down every word the teacher says…
No. Just listen, listen, listen to what the teacher has to say and take down very brief summary notes of what is most important such as a key concept or an equation for example. Your exercise book should not be filled with more than a page and a half every lesson. Anymore than that, and you probably have not been absorbing or listening to what is going on as much as you should.
When you are at home, Write!
Once you get home, everyday, review your work and what exactly you have learnt in class, refer back to the textbook or whatever you did that day and refresh yourself on what you learnt. From that, and referring back to the textbook and your school notebook every now and then to grab the key takeaways, write or type up a document of what you should know for that topic based on what you learnt that day. (You probably won’t be able to ‘take notes’ for Maths as you’d do for Science for example, so for that, doing practice papers is probably the best way to go)
Do this everyday and it should not take more than half an hour. Leave it to the last minute just before your GCSEs and you are going to be swamped with 101 topics from 101 subjects and its just not going to work at all. Do not carry on with your notes if there is something you are unsure about, only move on if you understand everything you write. If you are writing page 3 of your notes, you should understand Pages 1 & 2 inside out. If not, stop, re-read the chapter and seek help from your teacher.
Regarding the notes, they absolutely do not have to be colourful, in your face mind maps or exquisitely designed flow charts (Depends on what works for you though).
As for myself, I am not sorry to admit that mine was simply a word document built on sub-headings, bullet points, short explanations and diagrams. That’s it. I used limited colour, a very small amount of shapes, and virtually no smart art or word art whatsoever.
I just filled my document with the core content of what needed to be known and put it into visible easy to read point form. This allowed me to easily refer back to it if I forgot or did not clearly understand something. The biggest problem I have with exquisite mind maps and notes is that it is difficult to pinpoint something and refer back to it quickly when I needed to, it also is extremely time consuming which for a set of revision notes, in my opinion, is unnecessary, but again, whatever works best for you. Remember, your notes is not a graphic design project.
- Practice Papers
I am not an advocate of textbook questions, they are usually too simple and are nothing like what appears in the exam, so only do textbook questions to test your really fundamental understanding of the topic at the beginning, but bear in mind, simply acing textbook questions is not going to get you very far in the exam.
I think you should just jump into the real deal of practice papers because they are actually what has come out rather than doing and acing the basic stuff and lying to yourself
In terms of practice papers, try not to wait till the last minute and cram 3 per day. That is just unsustainable and bloody tiring. Same as with your notes, try and do your practice papers over a pro-longed period of time, 2-3 papers a week of alternating subjects worked well for me, however I increased that frequency to 3-4 per week in the final month of the exam just to make sure I left no stone unturned.
You may ask how are there enough practice papers to keep this going? Simple. Just start from the 2009 papers and work your way up to 2014 from there, they all should be available online at Cambridge IGCSE Past Exam Papers
When you do your practice papers, have a copy of the answer sheet too. The point of this is because what you may begin to notice is that the questions they ask tend to repeat and be pretty similar across the years, therefore, their answers will also tend to be very similar too, the answer sheet will expose first hand to these ‘model’ answers that will come up and again and again and will also show you exactly what answers Cambridge wants to specific questions, hence, even if you go into the exam and have a familiar question but you don’t fully understand the concept, you should know the model answer and therefore could just put it down and have a high probability of getting it right simply because you’ve done your background work. This also puts you at an advantage above the people who may understand the concept but lack the ability to articulate it in the way Cambridge wants you to do so.
After finishing every paper and learning from your mistakes, file it away somewhere so when you need to refer back to it or refresh yourself, it will be easily accessible.
Do not be lazy, Do not try and cut corners, just put in the damn work, you will reap what you sow, and you will thank yourself later when you get your reward.
Start early, Finish early, and most of all, Enjoy the journey.
Good luck, and if you need any extra help or advice, do not hesitate to drop me a message, I’d be happy to help anytime! 🙂