Emergency post for Year 11 students
Read this carefully year 11. It’s crystal ball time. You don’t have one year until your GCSEs…you have just 84 hours. That’s right, 84 hours! You see there are 38 weeks in a school year, but the summer exam season starts in just 30. If your school is anything like mine, there are 2 weeks of mock exams in the winter. That leaves just 28 weeks of teaching.
As an English teacher, I’m fortunate enough to have 3 hours a week with my year 11 classes. So I have a precious 84 hours (28 x 3) in which to:
* Get all the coursework finished off/sent off
* Teach the rest of the syllabus
* Prepare students with some past papers, and finally (time permitting)…
* Run over the entire syllabus again!
Your teachers will tell you as soon as you walk through the doors in September: “This is a very busy year/This year will go in the blink of an eye/The clock is ticking/Time to knuckle down” and they’re right. So what can you do to make sure you swim and don’t sink? My advice is:
* Firstly, don’t just sit there and listen! Write notes in lessons (keep them in neat, ordered folders) and annotate handouts, worksheets or anthologies clearly (no waffle). If you don’t, then your final revision schedule will be spent rewriting and reorganising notes, not revising them – and you don’t have the time to do that!
* Secondly, use a little colour in your note-making whenever you can (the eye responds to colour and makes it more likely you will remember things). Colour code your notes where possible (e.g. notes on themes in Of Mice and Men might be underlined in red and context in green). Personally I like ‘Mind Maps’, but I know they’re not everybody’s cup of tea.
* Thirdly, use snowball revision (little and often) as well as block revision. Even half an hour a week on each subject (term time only) will give you an additional 14 hours per subject. And that’s not including holiday time (when you can get some good block revision in).
Taking all of this into consideration, 84 hours (plus revision) is actually enough time to climb (or drop) two, three or even four grades in a subject. So don’t you dare start the year by thinking you are destined to get a certain grade, whether it be an E, D, C, B, A or even an A*! As Peter O’Tool says in Laurence of Arabia, “nothing is written.” In other words, crystal balls are misty for a reason; the future isn’t written until you learn it, revise it and then write it yourself… in an exam. The result you get will depend entirely on how you and your peers use those 84 hours of teaching time in each subject. And half of those hours (14 weeks) will be gone by Christmas.
Good luck for Year 11!
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