How to Use GCSE Maths Past Exam Papers Effectively

Maths Made Easy Team 23 March 2018
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All students revising for their GCSE Maths exams know how important it is to use past exam papers and the specimen papers but a small study we conducted earlier this year threw up some interesting results. We asked 5 students to take a specific GCSE Maths past paper as a mock to help them get ready for a GCSE Maths test. We then used the same paper 2 weeks later as part of the test and the results were interesting. Most students only saw a modest increase when sitting the same exam paper and in fact the average increase across the group was as little as 12% even though it was an identical paper they had sat before. This indicated that their use of the past paper as a revision tool wasn’t effective. Most individuals and schools sit mock papers, go through them, mark them and chuck them in a folder never to be seen again even if the intention is to look over them again and yet often the mistakes made on those papers are the same mistakes repeated in the final exam.

At Maths Made Easy we encourage people to use the GCSE Maths specimen papers and exam papers sparingly to begin with. Firstly you should learn the course material through the lessons and then use practice worksheets, the ones like we provide for free, to really nail individual topics. So if you are revising surds say, use the Maths Made Easy online surds revision test which provides questions of increasing difficulty, before moving onto Surds worksheets and even a Surds online test, all before you have even thought about the GCSE Maths exam papers. Once you have covered your topics you then move onto the papers. Now the specimen papers for the new GCSE Maths 9-1 specifications are in relatively short supply. Each paper should be completed and carefully dissected. At Maths Made Easy our GCSE Maths tutors ensure our pupils collate all of their mistakes outside of the exam papers, in a small book which highlights everything they have got wrong, then before each subsequent papers the students go back over their previous mistakes and try to avoid making the same or similar mistakes again. This method helps students to see a sustained increase in marks obtained from their first past exam paper through to their actual GCSE Maths exams.

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