Good luck GCSE students – with a little help from my friends

Good luck

Just wanting to wish pupils sitting their GCSE maths exams in the next couple of weeks, the best of luck. I remember what it feels like to be revising hard at this stage and the exam nerves on the day. It wasn’t that long since I last did the exam myself. Less than 12 months ago in fact.

Spoiler alert: I did very well (as you’d hope!)

Yes, I really did sit the real exam and yes, it was all done in official exam conditions. You might be wondering why I went to the trouble. You might be thinking it was a gamble. You’re almost certainly thinking I’m an idiot.

The purpose behind it was to say something to my students that words can’t – I know how you feel before exams; I know the hard work it’s going to take; I know what it’s needed to achieve the highest grade. At the time I did the exam, I was about to take on a GCSE class made up of a group of pupils I hadn’t taught for 3 years. In my quest to do whatever it takes for my new class, to make them believe in me, to have a bar for them to reach, I had to do it myself.

That said, I cannot understate the relief and personal satisfaction I got from getting nearly full marks! Can you imagine the egg on my face if I hadn’t?! The wait for results last summer was worse than the wait when I did my GCSEs the first time!

Anyway, it’s one of those 1% strategies – along with 99 others – that I hope makes the difference to these guys. I’m proud of how hard they’ve worked and how hard they continue to work. They haven’t had a single day of study leave and they’ve been in every day for revision classes (in other subjects too).

Download scanned copies of my exams

I requested copies of my exam papers to be sent to the school and here they are:
AQA June 2013 GCSE Maths (Linear) – Paper 1 – result 69/70
AQA June 2013 GCSE Maths (Linear) – Paper 2 – result 104/105

If you spot where and why I dropped the mark on each paper, you can have the prize for sharing first in the comments below.

Thank You

A quick mention and a huge thank you at this point to those teachers and maths departments who share their resources widely. The following have provided high quality material that have inspired or filled my revision classes:

Every little helps

The very last exam is 2 weeks today so we’ve got time for one final push. Once the English exam is out of the way next Tuesday, all our year 11s need to focus on is maths, maths, maths.

Another 1% solution, I figure, is to have more manpower so to help us with 6 hours of daily sessions, I’ve enlisted a crack taskforce…

Teach First Pre-First Years

A handful of new Teach First teachers, who haven’t even started Summer Institute, are spending up to 2 weeks with us and, as well as observing around the school, will be working with the year 11s on everything from exam technique to algebraic proof.



For a while I’ve been wanting to partner up with a tutoring organisation for these final revision sessions.
I vetted three tutoring organisations who just weren’t right – they didn’t get the mission of the school, possibly to do with them being all being run by lah-di-dah-rahs – but, by happy coincidence, Tutorfair found me.

Tutorfair, as well has having some genuinely considerate staff (the kind you could imagine being friends with) have a different model, which sets them apart. For every hour of tuition they’re paid, they will donate a free hour of tuition to someone who can’t afford to pay. Talk about a good fit for my school context!

It’s going to be great having these extra teachers in the building, partly because the students will be ready to tear my hair out if they have my 6 hours a day for 6 days, and mostly because of the boost that working in small groups will give the pupils. With more adults and smaller groups of students, we can run more personalised sessions. It should work out well if I can pull off the logistics.

In our case, Tutorfair have arranged (for a small admin fee) for seven volunteer tutors to join us at KSA during The Final Push. All are volunteering anywhere from 3 to 30 hours with us, doing much the same as the Teach Firsters. I’m very grateful that Tutorfair have secured these tutors for us and I’m looking forward to seeing our maths intensity reach new highs in the coming fortnight.

Whatever it takes.

Good luck everyone.

What do you think of this post?
  • Like (2)
  • Dislike (0)

8 Replies to “Good luck GCSE students – with a little help from my friends”

  1. Pretty sure the error on the first is 4(c) where (I think) the answer is integer.
    Reason: Because only integers are even or odd numbers. And this is a linear combination of integers which results in an integer. I am happy to stand corrected though!

    Thanks for the post Bruno – shows true dedication to your students!

    1. Hi Anon,
      You’re right that it was a daft mistake I made but 4c (or any part of q4) is not the one.
      I’ll give a clue…there’s a missing decimal point.

      1. All sounds very interesting Bruno, Tutorfair sounds like a great organisation so hope it spreads further north!

        Now for the mistakes (the real reason I’m here)…I reckon Paper 1 you dropped a mark on Q13d for only comparing values from the data for your two comparisons, when I think you need to compare a measure of spread as well (range or IQR).

        Paper 2 – Q5 should be £1.90. Interesting that when I worked it out I went straight for overall income and then profit and didn’t work out cost/profit per case.

        Best of luck to you and your students tomorrow! See you Saturday for your session…

        1. SPOT ON Alan! Well done. Yes, it was precisely those two errors and believe me, I’ve been shouting about them from the maths rooftop all year. I was very pleased that AQA put in a straightforward comparison question in Monday’s paper.

          I made this revision sheet last week – just in time!

          See you on Saturday 🙂

          1. I only found out about the distinction to be made on the comparison very recently as I’d looked at mark schemes for these types of questions to help students improve their written answers when comparing two distributions. It was fresh in the mind!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *