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GCSE students have their say

With this year’s 16-year-olds the first to sit the majority of their GCSEs under the new system, we spoke to some of our Figtree students to find out how the changes affected them – and what year 10 pupils can do to prepare.


A mixed bag
While some of the papers – including geography and physics – were definitely a challenge, students were pleasantly surprised at how well they coped with core subjects like maths and English.

Practice makes perfect
All the students we spoke to were happy they’d taken so many mock exams and practice papers. With schools and tutors ensuring these were set at a suitably demanding level, they felt well-prepared and confident when tackling the real thing.

Keeping a cool head in a hot summer
With increasing uncertainty around the new system, our students were feeling the pressure – with some sharing that they’d spent more than one sleepless night before an exam. But as one of our English pupils commented, keeping calm was key: “I tried not to worry too much about what my friends were saying, and just concentrated on what I’d learnt and doing my best on the day.”

The guinea-pig generation
Although the new grading structure was first introduced last year, this was the first time students were sitting the majority of exams under the revised system. “It’s not great to be the first year to go through the changes, as we didn’t have anyone before us to learn from and everyone was talking about how the boundaries are going to work” one Figtree student commented. “But hopefully the fact that there are now nine grades will make it easier for me to see where my strengths are, so in the long run it could help me focus on the areas I need to improve before university.”

Start early
When we asked our students what they’d say to the current year 10s, they all agreed on the need to start early: “It did feel like a big step up from last year, and when you have more than one exam in a day, it’s hard to keep on top of everything. But if you start revising early, get lots of support and put the work in outside of school as well, it’s really ok.”


For more on how the new GCSEs have been received across the country, head over to this month’s news report. And if you’d like to explore the support we can offer, have a look at our Services or get in touch with the Figtree team.

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