5 Strategies on how to pass GCSE maths

A good GCSE grade in maths can do wonders for a child’s potential paths and success as they move on from school and start to grapple with the real world of careers and further education. This is because universities often check that you have the correct A levels to study the subjects you wish to, and to pursue a maths a level, you need at least a strong pass in Maths GCSE.

Some top end universities like Oxford, Cambridge and the London School of Economics will judge applications on the bases of GCSEs as well as A levels. Further, most apprenticeships also require a good grade in GCSEs, especially maths and English.

A good GCSE grade in maths, especially grades above a 4 (defined as a pass) and above can also really help in setting up how a child can advance in terms of sixth form placements if they wish to complete a specific course or study at a different school.

With all this, it can seem there’s a lot of pressure to navigate success in passing the GCSE maths exam. But that’s okay! This guide will go over the basics and help you achieve your pass in your GCSE maths.

Why do I need to revise for my exams?

GCSE maths exam being taken by a studentExams are not easy things. They are designed that way on purpose. This is why they are exams. They define your life path, and as such are not supposed to be easy. So it is imperative that you study for these through revision to get higher marks.

The idea of students working through previously explained material to familiarise themselves with such material so as to get a good mark and answer is one that goes to back to the first ever exams. This for a very simple reason; it works.

Time and time again, effective revision had been proven to be the key to success. This will be the same with you and your attempts to get a high grade in your GCSE maths exams! This guide will show you how to pass GCSE maths.


Let’s get this question out of the way – can you pass gcse maths without revising?

Technically you could. But this extremely unlikely. Some people are born mathematicians, but the vast majority are not. So for most of us, revision using resources to achieve answers in a controlled, regular and effective ways are key for us for succeeding in not just our GCSE maths exams and passing those, but for al the exams we will come across in life, the vast majority of which will require regular revision to get through.

Even those who believe they are born with great ability in maths and are “natural mathematicians” would do well to revise effectively because the GCSE maths exams is more than about how good you are in maths. It is about the revision of multiple by the book and syllabus methods, meaning a very rigid method will be followed in the mark scheme.

As such, revision is crucial for any success in any exam, especially the GCSE maths exams. It is highly unlikely you will do well without revision.


Strategy 1- Past Papers

Past papers are the absolute key to exam papers and success in them. If you ask an all A or A* student how they got to where they are, they’ll all reveal the key is past papers.

The benefits of past papers is that they force you to train your maths revision to exam contexts and gives you a feel of what these exams are actually like. As such, to be truly prepared for the exams, you have to have done plenty of past papers. They make you familiar with what you need to do.

Once you have completed an exam, make sure to get them marked so that you know exactly where you went wrong and how to improve next time. This so especially the case with the Maths GCSE exams because often the same question format is recycled, and getting used to a specific kind of question through past papers can be the difference between a 5 and a 9 in your GCSE maths exams.

These papers are the greatest resources, that teaches good technique with past questions. Plus they get you to answer your questions with key knowledge and techniques.


Strategy 2 – Flash cards

A lot of maths at GCSE level revolves around memorisation of formulae. This is shown to be especially true when you get marks for working out, showing you know how a formula is to be applied, even if you get the answer wrong. A very effective way of studying these formulae is through flash cards. It is recommended to students to write on one side of a card the formula, and the other side an explanation of it.

For example

c=a2+b2 on one side, and “Pythagorean theorem” on the other.

In this way, students can test themselves in trying to link a concept to a formula. And knowing these will score you marks in the exam even if you don’t arrive to the correct answers.


Strategy 3- Timetable and time management

Effective revision is the key to passing your maths GCSE, as we have clarified here. But to make that revision effective, you have to make the absolute most of your time and maximise it. Make a timetable so that you know what you’re doing and when in your revision schedule you’re supposed to be doing it.

For example, you could schedule flash card creation on Monday afternoons, Tuesday can be flash card studying and revision, whilst Wednesday and Thursday are dedicated to past papers. In this way you make your revision more effective by planning exactly what it is.


Strategy 4 – Don’t overwork

As important to knowing how and when to work is to know when it’s okay to have a break. Over working yourself can lead to “revision fatigue” and damage mental health.

This is obviously not a good thing for you or your exam results! Know when you’re going to rest so that you can take some time for yourself and mentally prepare yourself for the stress of exams. But be careful not to be too generous with allocating yourself free time. You still have to work!


Strategy 5 – Group revision

One great technique for GCSE maths revision is to study in groups. This allows for the easier production of resources. For example one person could make material on quadratic equations whilst another could make material on trigonometry and share the materials to allow for greater efficiency.


This would also help with past papers as other group members could help each other to plug gaps in knowledge when people fail certain questions. As such, what we can see is that groups revision is an extremely effective strategy in allowing you to pass and excel in your maths GCSE exams.  This is a great way to get to grips with new information.


What are the pass marks for GCSE Maths?

The pass marks for the maths GCSE, and all GCSEs, vary year by year. As such, it is in effective and not a good idea to aim for a particular mark to ensure you get a specific grade.

Rather, students should aim to cover as wide a base as possible in their revision so that they can maximise their marks. A top grade, or even a pass, in GCSE maths isn’t a result of settling for a particular score, but rather working the absolute hardest in knowing what an exam is asking you to do.


I can’t pass my GCSE Maths exam – What should I do?


First of all is snapping out of this negative mindset. A GCSE in maths and English to a pass are compulsory in the U.K..

These exams are designed to be completed and done by everyone.

However, this is not to say they will be easy.

You will have to work hard for a pass, especially if maths isn’t your strong point.

To begin with, the best steps to remedy this situation and mindset is to follow the strategies outlined above.

If this is still difficult however, GCSE tuition may be a viable option in helping you get through the exam.

We recommend contacting us via email or phone to set up a meeting so that we can help you pass your exam and lay the foundation to your bright future!


Contact us and out tutors today to learn how we can help you pass your GCSE maths exams!


Summary – How to pass GCSE Maths

There are five major techniques outlined above:

  • Past papers
  • Flash cards
  • Timetables
  • Relaxation
  • Group study.


If you master these study techniques, you’ll be excelling in GCSE maths in no time!

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