Preparing for GCSE Maths - Strategies and Resources

The GCSE Maths paper is one of the most difficult papers to be able to pass in. The percentage of children that pass in GCSE Maths is only 60% . Out of that only 10% get an A and A*. 4.7 million GCSE exam entries were made by 16-year-olds in the UK in 2020 and 5.2 million tests were made in total.(UK/gcse-statistics)

In the real world, one cannot really over-emphasize the importance of GCSE in career building. Almost 97% of jobs require applicants to not just have passed the GCSE but to have a decent grade too.

Therefore, having a clear-cut strategy in preparing for the GCSE is critical. Students need to follow three main steps to help them prepare for the GCSE. They are:

  • Have an effective methods of revision
  • Learn to have rigorous time management skills and
  • Have access to online Maths resources.

1. Effective Revision Techniques

Most students follow a passive revision technique which involves either reading through their notes or copying  notes. Just sitting and reading your notes does not help engage the brain. It is a passive technique and isn’t effective for memorising information.

Copying notes is really just a waste of time. Most of the time  when you are  copying notes, your mind is somewhere else. A much more effective technique would be to summarise the key information/formulae etc., on each topic. So, instead of copying, make a summary of the key takeaways. This way your brain is actively engaged with the information that you are trying to remember .

Testing yourself regularly on various topics is another very effective way to stay on top of things. You could create flashcards in a reusable format and get a friend to test you. This method will very quickly bring to the fore the topics where you need more work in and the ones that you have already mastered.

I came across this really cool infographic by Innerdrive that effectively sums up why you should constantly test yourself while preparing for the GCSE’s.

Then, the next step in effective revision is practising past papers . This is the best way of simulating the actual examination scenario. But this also means that you shouldn’t refer to your summaries while attempting the papers. Trying to remember what you have learnt when under pressure is very important. This will help to prepare you to remember more accurately in the examination as well. Keep track of time as well. This strategy helps you to improve your time  management skills as well.

Remember these few things while practicing for the GCSE Maths paper:

  • The first test paper in the GCSE maths exam is a non-calculator paper. Therefore, what is critical to performing well in this test is to show all your workings clearly. Present your answer logically. If a question is worth two marks, then the  examiner will expect to see two clear points in your answer.
  • Approach the non-calculator paper cautiously. Identify the topic and the type of question type before attempting in. For example, if you know the question is about calculus, it will have many steps. So, try and visualise how the answer would look on paper.   
  • The second test paper, as you know requires you to use a calculator. Therefore, during revision, familiarise yourself with the functions of your own scientific calculator. Be very clear in your mind about what  functions you will need to answer questions on negative numbers, indices and Pythagoras.

2. Time Management

Once  your study notes are organised, it is time to put the next step of your revision strategy in place. I am referring to the creation of a revision plan. All you really need to do is to make an effective visual timetable. This will give you an overview of the big picture of the GCSE Maths syllabus. Create it as a spreadsheet, then record what you plan to study and when. So , why do you need a visual wall planner/timetable? Having a visual timetable ensures that you don’t run out of time as the D-day draws nearer. Try and decide on what days you’ll study GCSE Maths and mark them on your calendar. It is always better to indicate what topic you’ll study each day, to ensure that all the essential areas are covered.

In addition to putting the above things in place, you also need to set aside time in your calendar to practice with sample questions. Ideally, you should start practising with questions from the very beginning of your revision. Not only does this provide you with an indication of where you stand currently, but they are a great way to keep track of your progress.

3. Have Access to Online Maths Resources

As you probably know by now, in order to succeed in the GCSE Maths test, the most obvious skills for you to have is really good problem-solving skills. There are many ways to acquire these skills. You could solve maths worksheets found online, play math games or go through your school maths textbook. If you face problems or struggle to understand and clear up your and mathematical concepts, you could go on the web and find online Math tutors. They usually charge by the hour.  Or you could sign up for an online GCSE Maths teaching package that will give you a set amount of classes with an expert GCSE Maths tutor. The advantage of these programmes is that they are personalized 1-on-1 classes. That means they focus only on what your problem-areas are and work with you to up your problem-solving skills. They don’t follow the principle of one size fits all. Book a free demo class with Wizard. There are some really good websites like which provide this kind of service at a reasonable rate.

Here is a list of the best GCSE textbooks that can help in your GCSE Maths online preparation revision plan.

This book, designed specifically for GCSE students of Maths. It has a comprehensive number of practice questions for the Higher level GCSE Maths course. It also covers all the key topics for the current examinations with each of the exam boards used across the UK.

It has a range of exercises organised to test various levels of understanding, with answers at the back. Thus, you can easily check your work and find out where you're going wrong! This will significantly help you to improve your maths skills.

This all-in-one exam preparation resources for Higher Level GCSE Maths, includes a free Online Edition to use on a PC, Mac or tablet device.

CGP provides a number of tips and worked examples for you to use in your revision plan. Each bite-size section  ends with a quick assessment and a selection of exam-style questions. There are detailed answers at the back to that will help familiarise  you used with using questions and answers to better your exam technique.

At the end of the book, you'll find two full practice exam papers.

This CGP textbook consists of topics divided into small nuggets of information covering numbers, graphs, algebra and geometry and measures -  all the  tricky lessons that many students need a little extra help with. You can use this when you are doing independent revision sessions to get yourself used to the questions you might face in your final exams.

If you are looking for some online support from fellow examinees, try these:

The Student Room is an online forum for students which counts over 1.8m members worldwide, allowing you to discuss a range of topics with other pupils from countries around the world.