Science Tutor Mum

Local Mum, Science Teacher at a local school and Founder of Science With Confidence Sadia blogs for us about her top science tuition and learning tips

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Excelling in the examinations: Effective Last-Minute Revision Techniques


With just over a month before the start of the 2024 examination period, revision should be well underway but, even at this point, students find themselves struggling with the daunting task of revising for their subjects. With time ticking away, it's essential to adopt efficient revision strategies to maximise retention and performance in the exams. In this blog, I will be exploring a range of effective techniques proven to move students closer to achieving the grade that they want, including the invaluable support of a tutor.

Understanding the Challenge

With so much content to cover, effective time management and focused revision are essential. Additionally, understanding the structure and format of the exams is crucial for success so check the specification for a breakdown of what topics are being assessed in each examination.

1. Prioritise Key Topics

Begin by identifying the key topics within each subject that are most likely to appear in the exams. Refer to your class notes, textbooks, and exam board specifications to compile a list of priority areas which will also serve as a revision checklist. Focus your efforts on revising these topics thoroughly to ensure a solid foundation of knowledge.

2. Condense and Summarise

With limited time available, condensing your revision materials is paramount. Create concise summaries, flashcards, or mind maps for each topic, highlighting key concepts, equations, and definitions. Visual aids can aid in information retention and organisation, making revision more effective.

3. Practice Past Papers

One of the most effective ways to prepare for the examinations is by practicing past papers. Allocate time to work through a variety of past papers under exam conditions, including timed sessions and strict adherence to exam rules which, from my students’ experience, is the biggest game-changer. Analyse your performance, identify areas for improvement, and revise accordingly. The mark schemes provide excellent model answers so ensure that these are committed to memory. 

4. Active Revision Techniques

Engage in active revision techniques to enhance understanding and retention of the material. Actively participating in your revision process can significantly improve your grasp of concepts and boost your confidence. Consider techniques such as:

Teaching the material to a friend or family member

Forming study groups to discuss challenging topics

Creating and solving practice quizzes or questions

Writing condensed notes from memory

5. Seek Support from a Tutor

One of the most valuable resources available to students is the support of a qualified tutor. With access to their expertise through many years of marking examination papers, a tutor can offer personalised guidance, clarification of concepts, and assistance in navigating through examination questions. Here's how a tutor can help you secure the best grade:

1. Clarifying Concepts: A tutor can provide in-depth explanations and examples to clarify complex topics, ensuring that you have a solid understanding of the material. They can tailor their explanations to your learning style, making difficult concepts more accessible.

2. Exam Technique: Tutors are well-versed in exam techniques and strategies for tackling different types of questions. They can provide guidance on how to approach long-answer questions, multiple-choice questions, and practical assessments, maximizing your marks in each section.

3. Practice Questions: Tutors can supply a variety of practice questions, including those from past papers and exam-style questions. Working through these questions together allows you to apply your knowledge and refine your problem-solving skills.

4. Feedback and Improvement: Tutors can provide constructive feedback on your answers, highlighting areas of strength and areas for improvement. They can offer targeted advice on how to enhance your answers and maximise your marks in the exams.

5. Boosting Confidence: Finally, a tutor can boost your confidence and alleviate exam anxiety. By providing encouragement and support, they can help you approach the exams with a positive mindset and belief in your abilities. Tutors really are your own cheerleading squad who will motivate you every step of the way! 

Good luck in the exams!

If you would like a free trial with me at Science With Confidence, please feel freel to contact me below.



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Science With Confidence
Tel: 07708236822

The Crucial Role of Sleep in Effective Exam Revision and success


Can you believe clocks are moving backwards this weekend? It doesn’t feel right to do so given the lovely (and unusual) sunshine we have been experiencing most of October! Great news for those who love the opportunity to have an extra snooze (which is probably all of us!) but that extra time sleeping will be especially beneficial for those who are preparing to sit examinations as the mock examination season approaches. Sleep plays a fundamental role in memory consolidation, cognitive function, and overall well-being. This makes it an indispensable component of effective exam preparation and, ultimately, academic success. In this blog, I will explore the significance of sleep during exam revision and how it can significantly impact your child’s performance.

1. Memory Consolidation
One of the primary reasons sleep is vital during exam revision is its role in memory consolidation. While you child studies, their brain is actively processing and encoding the information they've learned. When sleeping, especially during the deep stages of the sleep cycle, the brain solidifies and organises these memories, making them easier to recall later. Adequate rest ensures that the effort your child put into studying translates into long-term memory, making their exam preparation more effective and sustainable.

2. Enhanced Learning and Retention
Sleep is essential for optimising learning and memory retention. During deep sleep stages, the brain processes and stores the information acquired during the day. Without sufficient rest, your child’s ability to focus, comprehend, and retain the material diminishes. It's not just about the quantity of sleep but also its quality. A good night's sleep will enable your child to approach their study sessions with a clear mind, enhancing their ability to grasp and retain complex concepts.

3. Improved Concentration and Focus
Lack of sleep can severely impact your child’s ability to concentrate and focus. When sleep-deprived, their attention span shortens, and their mind wanders more frequently, making it difficult to absorb and retain information effectively. On the other hand, adequate sleep sharpens focus, allowing your child to make the most out of their study sessions. With improved concentration, your child can delve deeper into the material and understand it at a fundamental level.

4. Stress reduction
Exam periods can be stressful, and sleep plays a vital role in managing this stress. A well-rested mind is better equipped to handle stress and anxiety, providing your child with the mental resilience needed to face exam-related pressures. Chronic sleep deprivation can lead to heightened stress levels, negatively impacting their exam performance. Prioritising sleep can help your child keep stress in check and approach their exams with a calm and composed mindset.

5. Enhanced Problem-Solving and Creativity
Quality sleep also promotes creativity and problem-solving skills. During the rapid eye movement (REM) stage of sleep, the brain is highly active, processing and integrating information acquired during the day. This can often lead to those lightbulb moments or breakthroughs in understanding complex problems or concepts. Many of my great thoughts have come to me half-way in the night. I still remember my wonderful ideas for my Master’s degree dissertation coming to me whilst in deep slumber. By ensuring sufficient sleep, your child is giving their brain the opportunity to creatively process and find innovative solutions to challenges they might face during their exam preparation.

6. Physical and Mental Health
Sleep isn't just essential for cognitive function; it's vital for overall physical and mental health. Chronic sleep deprivation can lead to a weakened immune system, increased susceptibility to illness, mood swings, and even depression. It's crucial your child prioritises their mental health during exam season, and sleep is a key component of maintaining a healthy body and mind. It is clearly evident that sleep is instrumental in effective exam revision.

 As your child prepare for their exams, remind them that a well-rested mind is a powerful tool and they will be armed to take on any challenge presented to them. Ensure that they make it a priority to get adequate sleep (which includes getting to bed early) throughout their exam preparation period, and they'll be better equipped to succeed in their examinations. Quality rest is not a luxury—it's a necessity for academic success and for a balanced, healthy life. So next time you feel the need to nag your child to get out bed, think of all the benefits they are accumulating while they get some extra snooze time in!

As the Chinese proverb goes (which we all appreciate as we get older!)

“The loss of one night’s sleep is followed by ten days of inconvenience.”

Finally, Jeff Bezos (founder of Amazon) also offers some brilliant advice on the subject of sleep and going to sleep early:

“Go to bed early and wake up early. The morning hours are good.” 

Just to let you know I have a couple of spaces left on my GCSE group tuition course. Please feel free to contact me for more info.



Read Local Mums' reviews of Science With Confidence

Science With Confidence
Tel: 07708236822

Interview with one of my students who is off to Uni to study medicine
This month I am posting an interview with Sofia, one of my students who recently received A*, A, A in her science A levels and is off to study medicine at her first choice university. Sofia was interviewd by our editor at Local Mums Online and the interview is posted below.

Sofia came to me in year 12 when she was struggling with A level Chemistry. She was finding the subject challenging and becoming demotivated. I was delighted that after lessons with me Sofia became confident in Chemistry and happy again and even said she enjoys Chemistry!

Sofia talks about her experiences with Science With Confidence below.

Sofia, how did you feel about Chemistry A level in year 12, before you started tuition with Sadia?
"I really struggled with Chemistry. I found the amount of content I had to learn overwhelming and the exam questions difficult to tackle. Through this difficulty, I lost interest in the subject and Chemistry became a chore to revise."

What were your thoughts about tuition before you started having lessons?
"I questioned how much my understanding could really improve with tuition. I thought Chemistry simply was not for me and no amount of extra help would change that."

When did you first think that a Chemistry tutor might be helpful for you?
"When I began to organise my revision in preparation for the real A level exams. The volume of content I needed to learn and go over was incredibly overwhelming. And so, I decided some help directing my revision and being provided with exam questions and tasks specific to my weakest areas would be valuable."

What did you think when you were first introduced to Sadia?
"I thought Sadia was lovely. She was kind, encouraging and eager to help me achieve my best. I could tell she was invested in my learning and genuinely enjoyed teaching me. She spent time with me figuring out where I most needed help and explained concepts clearly and passionately. I grew to really look forward to my lesson with her each week!" 

How did you find the online lessons with Sadia?
"I loved my lessons with Sadia, she made me feel so confident in my Chemistry ability through consistent encouragement and praise, which played a massive role in being able to do well in the final exams. The lessons also provided me with lots of exam practice which looking back, was a game-changer. With Sadia, I worked on my weakest and least favourite topics which, if left to my own devices, I would have neglected. This resulted in me having solid understanding in all areas of the A level course, not just in the topics I enjoyed revising."

How did you find balancing school-work and online tuition?
"I did not struggle balancing online tuition and school-work because, as I mentioned earlier, I really enjoyed Sadia’s lessons. This meant my weekly lesson felt like a break from my usual independent revision and I looked forward to it each week. Also as my understanding in Chemistry improved with the online lessons, school work became easier and I soon began to enjoy revising Chemistry."

How do you think Sadia’s lessons helped you achieve the A you needed in Chemistry?
"Sadia’s lessons undoubtedly gave me my A. Knowing if I didn’t fully understand something in class I could bring it to Sadia and she would give me a clear and in-depth understanding was a huge relief. For A level Chemistry thorough understanding of the scientific concepts is so important in being able to answer exam questions you have not seen before and I believe I would not have achieved the understanding I had without Sadia. Sadia helped me enjoy learning and revising Chemistry and I don’t think I would have been able to succeed without developing this enjoyment. Furthermore, the weekly hour with Sadia gave my revision structure and helped me to plan how I would be able to get through the great volume of content."

What would you say to a student who is considering online science tuition with Sadia?
"Sadia’s lessons made A level Chemistry so much more manageable and gave me peace of mind that I would be okay in the final exams, which when you are trying to tackle the nightmare that is A levels, is so valuable. I cannot recommend Sadia highly enough and can confidently say I would not be in the position I am right now without her!"

How did you feel when you received your Chemistry A level result and you knew you had got into your first choice university to study medicine?
"The relief that all the hours spent at my desk and all the hard work was worth it felt incredible. I felt on top of the world and so confident and proud of myself. Looking back to where I was a year ago compared to where I am now, I can’t help but smile."

Thank you so much Sofia, it has been such a pleasure to teach you and see you succeed in your goals. Have an amazing time at Uni!

If you would like a free trial with me at Science With Confidence, please feel freel to contact me below.

Read Local Mums' reviews of Science With Confidence

Science With Confidence
Tel: 07708236822


Ten essential tips for a successful start to the academic year
With a few weeks to go before the new academic year (where did the summer break go?!), many of you have probably spend the summer holiday relaxing and studying has, understandably, been the last thing on your mind.

Preparing for the new academic year is essential, especially for those of you in examination year groups, to ensure that you lay the foundations for a successful school year. Why not follow the tips below so that you can hit the ground running in September with confidence and renewed motivation?

Tip no. 1 - Find a tutor
Were the end of year examination results were not as expected or have you struggled with a particular topic? Now is the time for your parents to reach out to tutors as they start to fill up their availability. Recommendations are best but make sure that tutors are checked for their suitability to teach the subject as well as their qualifications and tutor experience. Are you in need of a science tutor or would like to join my GCSE Chemistry class? Please do get in touch! For more details on my GCSE Chemistry classes, please click here:

Tip no. 2 - Organise your subjects
This is a great time to start organising each subject; one big folder for each subject with dividers for each topic.  If your child is not sure what topics you will be doing, you can always check the specification and use the topics titles for each divider but just make sure you are aware that your teacher may not teach according to the order of the specification. Otherwise, you can ask your teacher for a list of topics that you will be studying during the year. Organising subject notes is always on-going and will never be done until you finish your exams! Don’t forget to also organise your online files and ensure each document is in the correct folder with a title that you can cross-reference with your textbook/notes/specification.

Tip no. 3 - Use this time to finally nail those tricky topics (without having to focus on lots of other subjects)
Pick a subject that is a challenge and identify three topics that have caused problems. Use the specification (this is essentially a checklist from the examination board- see my earlier blog for more information) and the titles from it to help structure your notes as well as any textbook page numbers. Don’t forget to include some model answers to questions from each topic so that you can see what an excellent response looks like to an examiner. When you can, repeat this for other topics and subjects.

Tip no. 4 - Find out which revision and studying strategies suit you
It is essential that you determine the best way that YOU learn and revise. Before you know it, you will have your first test of the year which often means students don’t have time to explore and try out different revision strategies. They, therefore, stick to what they know which doesn’t necessarily result in great grades. Revision and learning strategies can make all the difference when it comes to achieving the grade you want. Just ensure that whatever works for you, you are routinely incorporating it into your study sessions so that they become habit. Some brilliant ways of learning can be found here:

Tip no. 5 - Stationery top-up
Even as a teacher, I love that the start of the new academic year is the perfect excuse to treat myself to that glittery notebook to write my goals and motivations in! If you are fully equipped for the start the year, you will feel so much more organised, calm, relaxed and ready to focus on the challenges ahead. A set of different colour pens is a must. Different colours are brilliant for correcting your work so that they stand out and help you learn from your mistakes as well as annotations. Everyone loves a colourful page of text which will help relevant points on the page stand out and motivate you to learn as well! Why do you think CGP revision guides are loved by so many students? A complete checklist can be found here:

Don’t forget to get your school bag organised as well.

Tip no. 6 - Treat yourself!
Schedule some rewards for this term which you can use to motivate yourself and reward with when you accomplish academic-related tasks. No matter how small the task is, you deserve it!

Tip no. 7 - Remind yourself of your goals 
Motivate yourself to work hard by researching into your ideal career, making a montage of it with motivational quotes (a great relaxing creative task here) and sticking it on your wall to remind yourself of what you are working towards. I remember pinning my acceptance letter from the university I applied to on the wall to get me through the challenging times of studying and how much it helped me! 

Tip no. 8 - Focus on your well-being
Make sure that you relax during the last week before the summer holidays end. This way, you will approach the new academic year in a calm, relaxed frame of mind and fully recharged rather than frantically organising your work which will just feel as though you had no break at all! Just make sure everything else needed to organise yourself for school is done before-hand. Your well-being is key to the success of your learning and outcomes.

Tip no. 9 - Create a timetable 
Ensure you have a created a blank and visually appealing timetable, ready to be filled in with your school timetable, after-school activities and after-school studies (ideally 45 minutes of studying with a 15 minute break). When you are filling it in, ensure that they are realistic so that you are likely to follow it and flexible to accommodate any last-minute changes to your day. Once completed, stick it on your wall near your desk and stick to the schedule so that you develop good study habits. Also, by creating a timetable, you will stay organised which will make you feel you are in control and, therefore, in control of your success. Click on the following for a brilliant and editable timetable if you don’t want to start from scratch which is also printable:

If you prefer, you can use one of the many apps to create a digital timetable which is always with you on your phone when you are on the go! Click on the following for some tried and tested examples (some are free), many of which have additional features such assignment reminders and tracking the amount of time spent on each task:

Tip no. 10 - Develop a productive space in your house
This means it should be away from distractions, organised and clutter-free. To make this space truly productive, you should not allow yourself to have any devices here (other than a laptop to work on). This way, you are not only developing self-discipline and determination which will contribute to exam success, but you will also spend more time studying rather than being distracted constantly by your device. Don’t forget, the library is also a great place to work and counts as a study space.

The best of luck for the start of the new academic year and an special best of luck for those who will receive their examination results over the next couple of weeks, especially for my truly wonderful students I have tutored from Local Mums Online!


Helping your child shine with small group tuition
The summer holidays are finally here and school is the first thing to be put to the back of our minds as we begin the planning of our holidays and activities. If your child’s end of year examination result has highlighted struggles in science or even the need to be challenged to secure the high grades, this is a great time to start reaching out to private tutors as many are starting to fill up their schedules in preparation for September. 

As I get ready to welcome new students to my group tuition in September, I thought writing this blog would be a great opportunity to set straight all the benefits to be gained from small group tuition. 

Parents of Year 10 and Year 11 students - please see the special offer at the end of this blog on small group tuition!

What is small group tuition?
This is where a teacher works together with a small number of students (no more than 6 on average). The teacher delivers the knowledge of a topic and then the students then independently complete the tasks as directed and guided by the teacher. The teacher also provides feedback on how each student is performing to aid improvements and progress.

Does small group tuition help with progress?
According to the Education Endowment Foundation, small group tuition has an average impact of four month’ additional progress over the course of a year.  We have seen many students make superb progress within a small group tuition environment, especially (but not limited to) those who are introverts by nature and those who are intimidated by the huge class sizes experienced in their own schools where opportunities to shine and progress are limited. 

What does small group tuition look like at science with confidence?
These are delivered online by a qualified science teacher using Zoom or Google Meet (we are currently transitioning to Zoom) which will have no more than 6 students. The teacher will deliver the content of a topic and tasks are set for the group to complete. The tasks will vary in terms of skills required (starting with recall questions then moving to application and devising skills) so will increase in challenge as the lesson proceeds. During the time, students have access to the teacher at all times when they encounter difficulties and the teacher will be available to provide feedback. All efforts are celebrated and no one is left out feeling they have not achieved. 

Many parents I know have spoken about the lack of individual, personalised attention in group tuition so hardly any progress has been seen.

This is the main concern when it comes to group tuition. Yes, this can be true to an extent but only when class sizes become too large. There are many tuition centres that are uncapped in terms of student numbers and this is where dissatisfaction is expressed. At Science with Confidence, we have found, from our experiences, that class sizes should not exceed 6 at GCSE level. Any bigger and your child can quiet easily become lost, lose motivation and confidence FAST and not progress. With a small number students in a group, we can easily tailor the lessons to meet your child’s needs and ensure great progress is made. 

I know of students who have attended group tuition and have covered content that is irrelevant to the child’s curriculum? How do I know this won’t happen at Science with Confidence?

We require students to complete a pre-tutoring questionnaire prior to joining so that we can personalise our lessons to cater for ALL the needs of our students in a supportive and motivating environment. We also use this to create a programme of study which is sent in advance of lessons so you will know exactly what is being covered while making the sessions relevant to your child’s specification.  

How will you ensure that my child is making progress in each lesson?
EVERY student will be assessed at the end of each lesson to check for understanding of topic and depth of knowledge and application skills. A quick but insightful assessment that consist of examination questions is completed at the end of the lesson to provide feedback to both the pupil and teacher in terms of progress in the lesson. This enables students to see whether they are meeting the demands that they would encounter in an examination whilst building their confidence at the same time. We also record the progress your child makes on each topic using our tracker sheets which we will share with you as part of our progress report to you. 

What are the other benefits of group tuition at Science with Confidence?
It will encourage independence and discipline- because students are not constantly watched by their tutor and are expected to complete the task on their own (with the support of the tutor, when needed), students develop excellent independent skills while building resilience to finish those tricky questions; all within a supportive environment. 

Group tuition is cost-effective- done in the right way and when the student is willing to bear responsibility for their work and take their commitment seriously, students can make excellent progress in group tuition whilst being a lot cheaper than one-to-one tuition.

Can generate healthy competition in a low stakes environment- when in a tutoring environment where scores are not recorded as official assessments, students are more likely to take risks with their learning. As a results, a greater effort is seen by students and they develop the motivation to perform and try their best to reach and exceed their own performance or even class average/highest score in the class with no risk. Feedback on the assessment in given in the next lesson so that students can see how they are doing compared with others.

Avoid those daunting one-to-one sessions:  Sometimes, when working non-stop with a tutor during the sessions can be intense and stressful and may make your child slowly start to dread the next session. Group tuition removes the focus on one child so this can be less intimidating and allows students to relax a bit more and, therefore, perform better. 

No distractions:  As everyone’s camera and microphone will be off and interaction with the tutor will be via the chat, everyone will be able to focus on solely the delivery of the teacher’s instructions and complete the tasks set with no interruptions from others.

Local Mums Special Offer for Year 10 and 11 students
I am delighted to announce a limited offer to localmumsonline members of £20 per session for 10 students of Year 10 and  10 students of Year 11 for Chemistry (initially but you will be asked to register interest for Physics and Biology) for a September start. 

Please quote Local Mums Online for your discounted rate which will revert to £25 soon after and contact me at to register your interest. 

Read Local Mums' reviews of Science With Confidence

Science With Confidence
Tel: 07708236822

June 2023
How to support your summer born child in education

The harsh reality of being a summer born child at school
As July approaches, I prepare to celebrate another year of my beautiful son’s life but I am also reminded of his struggles that he faces at school being one of the youngest in his year. COVID made things worse as he fell behind even more which impacted his confidence and deepened his level of shyness. 

He is one of many children suffering from the phenomenon known as the “birthdate effect” (now becoming known as the “summer born effect”). This affects children who were born between May-August, making them the youngest of their cohort.

The summer-born effect is well-documented by mounting research where children born in the summer suffer from disadvantages of being the youngest in their group such as: 

  • Social and emotional skills are less developed compared with their peers so they may struggle to make friends or at greater risk of being bullied
  • Considered to be below average for their reading, writing and maths (the number of times I have had to stare at a sea of red boxes signalling my son’s underachievement during parents’ evening has been really disheartening!)
  • Summer-born children are more likely to be “unfairly labelled” (according to research funded by the LSE) as a SEND pupil. In fact, this research found almost half of summer born boys in primary schools were classified as SEND students.

So, summer-born children are not only faced with the delayed emotional, social and academic development compared with their peers but they are also more likely to be deemed suffering from learning difficulties where such a label will further impact their confidence in the classroom; instilling further anxiety in both the child and parent. 

This can lead to behavioural issues because the inaccurate diagnoses will result in needs not properly addressed, encouraging demotivation and lack of effort in the classroom.

Now for the good news
As a secondary school teacher and parent, the disadvantages of summer born children have constantly played on my mind and I would find myself looking at my register, playing the game of guessing which students were summer born based on the ability in class. 

Thankfully, I didn’t get it right (and I did this many times!) which also confirms that the summer effect becomes less apparent as the children get older; with the effects minimised at secondary school age, according to this research:

Furthermore, many parents have also reported that their child has not been disadvantaged as a summer-born child and credit the support they have provided for their child during pre-school years and beyond.

How to support your summer born child in their education
If you are concerned about the effects of your child being summer born, there are some steps that you can take to help your child be the best that they can:

1. Delaying reception entry. There is much discussion around this as delaying reception entry will mean your child will go straight to Year 1. It is important to understand the implications of delaying reception entry before deciding. The government has published advice here:

2. Don’t just focus on education to help your child develop the skills he needs! Hobbies are especially important here. Your child will develop many wonderful skills here that can be transferred into learning in the classroom such as resilience, independence, logical thinking skills, communication as well as increased focus and effort. This will also help them to have more confidence in their abilities and will have a knock-on effect on other aspects of their lives, including their education.

3. If you are planning for your child to sit the 11+ examinations for access to grammar schools, it is worth checking that they account for the birth month of your child and how they do this.

4. To help develop your child’s social skills, set up play dates either in the park or at your place/friend’s place. These one-to-one playtimes will help your child focus on building friendships one at a time (without being overwhelmed or stressed) and develop great social skills at the same time!

5. Ensure they are starting to engage in their own self-care as early as possible such as putting their coats on. One thing that might be handy is establishing a routine with a laminated checklist stuck up somewhere visible so that you both can work through it together (with pictures as visuals). Before you know it, your child will have got themselves ready before you have got out of bed! This will also develop confidence in your child and have your child (and you!) beaming with pride. Just make sure you praise them for it!

6. Reading to your child will not only help them develop a love for reading but will also get them listening to many words that they will encounter in school.

7. With a simple layout with lots of visuals and easy instructions (but without being overwhelming), CGP books can be great for developing your child’s writing, maths and reading skills; complete with a handy answer section at the back of each booklet. 

8. Online learning/tutor can also be invaluable in helping your child address any areas of difficulty with their learning by providing targeted work to correct their learning and make great progress.  

Whatever you choose to do, make sure that you support them along the way with lots of praise and positive reinforcement and don’t push them if they are not ready. Every child will reach their “it suddenly clicked” moment; some will just take a bit longer than others.

Read Local Mums' reviews of Science With Confidence

Science With Confidence
Tel: 07708236822


The examiners’ report - learning from other candidates’ mistakes and boosting your chances of success

As students anxiously enter the examination period, I am swiftly reminded that I will soon be switching from the role of a tutor to that of an examiner as I excitedly anticipate the first batch of examinations papers ready to be marked. I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to reflect on and promote the importance of using an examiners’ report as a tool to help strengthen students’ confidence and performance in the examinations. 

What is an examiners’ report?
An examiners’ report is a document that is written by examiners who have marked a specific examination paper. The examiners’ report is written after every single examination paper has been marked. The report contains an overall summary of the paper as well as an analysis of of each question. By reading the examiners reports, students will gain insight into: 

The specific questions and areas that candidates did well on overall 

Common errors found in candidates answers and how to avoid them

The subject knowledge students lacked to answer the questions and what the examiners were expecting to see

Topics that proved to be challenging on the paper

The level of difficulty of the questions.

Where can I find examiners’ reports?
Compiled and published by the examination boards, you will find them alongside the specification, past examination papers and mark schemes on the examination boards’ website. If you type in “examiners’ report” followed by your examination board, subject and level into a search engine, a link will appear that will take you to the documents.  

What are the benefits of using examiners’ reports?
Examiners reports will help alert you to the common errors students made in their examinations; this is an invaluable opportunity to learn from their mistakes so you don’t make them, maximising your chances of getting closer to that grade you need. It can also help you to understand a specific concept as the examiners’ comments are provided to help clarify how the answer was reached as well as emphasise key subject knowledge that was lacking in the candidates’ responses to answer the questions. The report also comments on the responses from the most able and answers that were weak. All of this will help you to develop an effective revision strategy to ensure you get the best grade possible. 

How can I use an examiners’ report in my revision?

It could be used in one of two ways:

Complete the examination paper/questions and then correct your answers using the mark scheme. Once you have completed this, read through the examiners report and take note of the areas of difficulty highlighted by the examiner which were also on your paper and incorporate this as part of your revision 

A more challenging way to use the examiners’ report; complete the examination paper/question and then read the examiners’ report and use this to understand and adjust your answer.  Finally, use the mark scheme to correct your answer and ensure you have made notes on how to remedy areas of difficulties according to the examiners’ report.

Both methods will help you to minimise repeating the mistakes of previous cohorts increasing your chances of excelling in the examinations.  

What are the top 10 tips according to the examiners’ reports to boost success in your Chemistry examinations?

Take the time to read the question properly (at least twice) especially when it comes to answering longer response questions 

Ensure your answer actually answers the question

Avoid contradictions in your answers as you will be marked down, even if part of your answer is correct. Cross out any work that you do not want marked to so that contradictions between answers are not seen

When answering calculation questions, always show the steps clearly with the numerical value for each step. This way, even if your final answer is not correct, you will still receive most of the marks through writing and calculating each step 

Ensure that any final answers to calculations are written to the correct significant figures

Make your handwriting clear and legible to avoid ambiguity (and make it easy for the examiner to award you marks!)

Check that your equations are balanced in terms of atoms/charges

Learn your definitions exactly as expected by the specification with all the keywords included

Avoid answering questions by repeating the question; this not only wastes time but takes up unnecessary space on the answers line

Read and follow the instructions on the front of your examination paper at all times; failure to do so can cause loss of marks.

The very best of luck to those taking their final examinations! You have got this 

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No matter how hard I revise, my grades are not getting better. Why not and what can I do about it?

With those final examinations looming (with some even starting this month!), I am still astounded by the way many students are revising. When students perform poorly in their assessments, the first thing I ask is “how are you revising”?  A frank conversation with students eventually leads them to sheepishly reveal to me their techniques which, not surprisingly, are passive revision styles.  Examples of this include just reading and copying out paragraphs from a textbook.

These are considered safe methods of revision because students cannot assess whether they have understood the topic. Consequently, there is no chance of facing failure and they can falsely reassure themselves that they know their stuff…When they don’t.  So why do they do this if they know it isn’t working? Because, as quoted directly from my students, they just “don’t know how to revise”.

As mentioned in my previous blog on examination preparation tips (see below published in February 2023), revision should always be active. This means interacting with the information such as organising the information in your own way and this technique I am about to introduce you to does exactly that. 

Flash cards- a great revision tool to help chunk down information but with a caveat  
Many students, especially those who are SEND, can often be overwhelmed by huge amounts of text facing them on a page; this is often the case with subjects that they may find challenging. This sends ripples of panic and anxiety within the student and the inevitable phrase “I can’t do it” rears its ugly head. Creating flash cards will ensure that such feelings are well and truly kept at bay.

Making flash cards is a die-hard technique that is widely practised amongst students. This entails writing key concepts on each topic which forces students to break up and summarise the amount they write on each side of the flashcard because of the size limitation of each face of the card; enabling student to create a set of concise notes that they can refer to when revising. 

The main downside with this technique is it then becomes passive if students are reading their flashcards repeatedly and, therefore, not really engaging with the text. Students can also find themselves copying paragraphs from a textbook onto their flash cards without thinking about what they are writing. Not only do they end up with a set of flash cards with unnecessary detail piling sky-high (not to mention a waste of card and money), but the strategy also becomes passive. 

Turning flash cards into active revision
The technique I am about to talk through not only incorporates the benefits of flash card making (as described above) but will also ensure that revision is active with huge gains to be made in retaining knowledge.

So how can flash cards become active revision? The steps are as follows:

Step 1: Find a topic and read the first paragraph (for example) which will be the ‘answers’ 

Step 2: Now work backwards by thinking of questions for the ‘answers’ just read in the paragraph 

Step 3: Write the question on one side of the flash card

Step 4: Write the answer on the other side of the flash card

Step 5: When you have made a set of flashcards for a topic, you are ready to be tested! You can either: 

a: Read the question from the flashcard to yourself and write down the answer on a scrap piece of paper or a mini whiteboard (with only the question face up). Once you have done this, turn the flash card over to the answers and compare what you have written with what is on the card. Did you get the correct answer? Great! If not, place it in a separate pile and re-attempt that question later.

b. (This is where parents can get involved!) Get a relative or friend to read the question to you. You then answer the question verbally and they will check your answer against the one on the flash card in front of them. They will then let you know if you got it right and read the correct answer to you as feedback. If you didn’t get it right, just place that card in a separate pile and ask them to ask you that question later. 

An example
Let’s look at creating these flash cards with a simple and real example. Below is the first paragraph on the periodic table topic, taken from the GCSE Chemistry curriculum:

The rows in the periodic table are called periods and the period number of an element tells us the number of electron shells found in that element. For example, lithium is in period 2 so this means it has two electron shells. 

Now let’s turn the above into questions and answers for our flash cards:

Flash card 1

Question: What are periods? (This will be written on one side of the flash card)

Answer: Rows in the periodic table (This will be written on the other side of the flash card)

Flash card 2

Question: What does the period number tell us about an element? (This will be written on a new flashcard)

Answer: It tells us the number of electron shells that an element has

Keep at it; it will be worth it!
It may seem a bit long-winded at first but you will learn key concepts faster and become quicker at creating these revision flashcards! Adopting this strategy also ensures you are engaging with the text by organising the questions and answers and forcing yourself to recall the answers. This gives you instant feedback in terms of the level of knowledge on the topics. 

In addition, this idea of having ONLY one question and answer per flash card will help to avoid cognitive overload (this means receiving too much information given at once). This can lead of a lack of information processing and, ultimately, reduced performance in the examinations. Creating flash cards in this way will certainly avoid these issues and enable you move closer to the grades that you have worked so hard to achieve.

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March 2023

The specification: An indispensable guide to examination success 
There is a strong correlation between active use of the specification and examination success. After all, those textbooks and revision guides that students have been using as part of their learning and revision are all based on the specification.  

In short, the specification is a hidden gem that must be an integral part of every student’s revision to maximise examination success, especially those who have their sights set on the top grade. Many parents and students I speak with are surprised by how beneficial using the specification is and only wished they had known about it earlier!  

What is the specification? 
This is a document that has been created by the examination board to communicate all the topics the students need to learn for the examinations. It also tells the students how many examination papers they can expect to sit as well as, in the case of the sciences, command words which are imperative to understanding and answering examination questions correctly.

The mathematical skills are also outlined in this document and there is a breakdown of how papers are assessed in terms of recall of knowledge, application and analysis. In addition, the specification itself is an invaluable body of knowledge as it contains many definitions students need to know for the examinations. However, as much as the specification is a game-changer, it is not a substitute for making detailed notes on the topics.  

Where can a copy of the specification be found? 
As long as you know the examination board, the specification is easily located by either typing into a search engine, for example, “AQA GCSE Chemistry specification” and the link will appear or you can go directly to the website and search for the qualification and the specification will be ready to download in PDF format.  

How can the specification be utilised as part of revision? 
Revision needs to be active and this also includes the use of the specification. It is not enough to just read it. A way that the specification can be used is as a revision checklist where students can tick off each point once they have completed their revision on that area. 

Another way the specification can help students reap significant benefits is by writing each specification point as a title and then using resources such as textbooks and revision guides to make detailed notes on that specification point. This way, students can feel confident that they have created relevant and valuable notes on each topic.  

The specification should also be used to learn the definitions required for each topic when given. Students will find that the definitions provided on the specification will match the mark scheme perfectly.  

By using the specification, students will be able to confidently make links between examination questions and the topics and know EXACTLY what the examiner is asking them- so nothing will throw them off in the examinations! 

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February 2023
After mocks, how do you help your child prepare for this summer's exams?

As the mock examinations slowly become a distant (and perhaps painful) memory, the pressing matter is that there are only a few months left until the first 2023 examinations. So what can you do as a parent to help your child perform the best they can? Apart from not panicking, here are a few tips! 

1. Ensure your child is revising effectively: Copying chunks out of a textbook/revision guide verbatim is not helpful, neither is reading a paragraph over again. Revision needs to be active. Writing notes from memory is a great example of active revision.  

2. Encourage your child to use the specification alongside making revision notes: Your child should use this as a checklist. This way, they are covering exactly what the examiner wants. 

3. Practice, practice, practice! Examination questions, that is! These will help your child familiarise themselves with the style of questions and develop examination techniques as well as develop their application of knowledge skills. 

4. Seek the help of a tutor: Not sure why your child went wrong in the examination? Or maybe you do know but not sure how to approach the problem? An experienced tutor will be able to establish the issues and work with your child to ensure they are ready to give their best performance in the final examination. 

5. Encourage your child to not only start revision early but to also start revising as early as possible in the day and finish early: Your child is likely to be more productive and alert when revising early in the day than later or at night. Starting revision months before the examinations instead of a few weeks will also reduce stress and anxiety as well as allow the time to build a solid foundation of knowledge. 

6. Time out! Taking breaks from studying is essential so the brain can process what has been learnt so do ensure your child is taking time away from their learning. Otherwise, insufficient breaks can lead to overload, stress and burnout. Entice them with treats, if needed! 

7. Little and often: Don’t let your child spend hours on one topic. Encourage them to switch between topics to avoid boredom and demotivation and build knowledge over a period of time; this is more likely to increase retention. 

About Sadia

With over 15 years' experience of teaching in British schools in the UK as a Qualified Teacher, private tutor and currently teaching part-time in a private London school, Local Mum of three children Sadia has been able to develop and implement many successful strategies to help students achieve with her tuition company Science With Confidence. Her degree in pure Chemistry from University College London, Master's degree and Post graduate Certificate in Education from the University of Oxford have equipped her with the solid subject knowledge of the British science curriculum and skills needed to secure excellent outcomes for her students. Sadia is also a member of the Royal Society of Chemistry and a Chartered Science Teacher.

Sadia's tutoring ranges from young kids keen to satisfy their innate curiosity for science to the more serious A Level Chemistry students in need of securing the top grades for their place on highly competitive degrees such as Dentistry and Veterinary Medicine. She has also delivered high quality tuition services all over the world; from local students in London to those in international schools as far as India, Singapore and Hong Kong. 

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Tel: 07708236822

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