Bob Foster - flexible expert tutor in Maths and Science GCSE - tuition online anywhere in the world.

Hi – I’m Bob Foster; I offer personal tuition in Maths and Science on-line and in Bristol, UK. I cover all GCSE courses including the International GSCE from Edexcel and Cambridge. Wherever you are in the world, I can support you and help you get the best grades. If you’re a parent, I can give you advice on how you can help.

Use the main menu above for details of GCSE Maths and Science courses and for how online private tuition works.


For parents – here are my suggestions for how to help your child become a confident, independent learner. Click on the links for details…

~ About you and school.

~ About helping your teenager to study effectively.

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52 Responses

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  2. Hi Bob, I’m in year 11 and a week away from taking my three science papers (Biology, Chemistry and Physics). I’m finding additional science incredibly difficult and I don’t think that I’m going to pass. But last year I did my CORE science exam and I got a B overall, so if I fail additional, how badly will it actually effect me? I’m not asking this as an excuse to not do any revision and just wing the exam, I’m just worried about what will happen if I fail.

    1. How badly if affects you will depend on whether you need science Additional for the next stage in your education. You can choose what direction you want to go in! Some courses will require just core, some will want Additional. You’ll have to get the advice of the college or school at which you want to study.

  3. my son is in year 7 and I am making him to take igcse math 0580 from cie this may 2015. As of now he is getting A* in the mock exams and the plan will be may 2016 all sciences with math 0580 and A Math 0606. Then again repeat the same in may 2017. He will be mainly graduating IGCSE in May 2018 when he will be doing all sciences and then International Math from CIE. As he may be doing igcse for three years in a row I hope his graduating year 2018 will be all perfect scores. My only concern is that current pure sciences from CIE is not having a perfect progression to Pure Sciences at A Level from CIE. Hence I have seen students who score triple A* in pure sciences in IGCSE fail to get B in A Level. This is the draw back of CIE IGCSE sciences. But for math at IGCSE has A math and International Math which will help the students at A Level Math significantly. Can you suggest me if Edexcel has any science modules similar to A math of International math for sciences so that when the student progresses to A Level pure sciences he can feel comfortable. I know that at present he is in year 7 and he is opting igcse at this young age, I decided because I have seen the spark in him and really in mock exams he is consistently getting 95% plus.

  4. Hello Bob im in year 10 and the head of science has told us that anyone above a c is going to be doing their p1, b1 and c1 GCSEs in June which is only a month and a bit away . I got a c+ which means I will be sitting it and I’m really worried what would you recommend I do to get a high grade and do you think it’s to early for me to sit it

    Thank you

    1. Most students take core science in year 9 or 10 – that’s normal. So you’ve covered all the stuff and had a couple of years to prepare! Now you’ve just got to do make sure you know all the keyword definitions and do all the past papers and specimen papers. And understanding the marking schemes is of course essential – you’ve got to know what the examiners are looking for.

  5. good idea than reading her books?? worried as it has been 2 years i left school. she is just doing the past paper ..

  6. hi,
    i am doing edexcel gcse in this June. i had been studying just from last two months.Can you please tell me is doing past paper of edexcel maths helpful for me ? i mean is it good idea ? and what about science ??

  7. Hi Bob,
    I am an as-level student in college studying biology. In GCSE, I attained a grade A however, this year I have been failing the tests that the school has set me. I understand the theory element of the OCR AS Biology (F211 and F212) course but I struggle to gain the marks in the exam. I have been attending tuition for Biology since september because I throught that it would give me the extra boost that I need and help reinforce what the teacher has covered in the lesson but the tuition did not seem to be helping and the teacher would not help me understand how I lost marks. I need an A grade this year in AS Biology to get into medicine but in my mock (1 month ago) I only attained a C grade. OCR Biology is one of the courses where simply mastering the theory is not enough, the application also needs to be mastered to achieve a passing grade. I think that my biggest downfall is the application questions. So I need to learn how to adress the examiners mark scheme without waffling and wasting precious time.

    I would really appreciate it if you could help me because my aspiration is to get into medicine, my other subjects (Chemistry, Maths and Further Maths) is fine but Biology is standing in my way. Any help regarding revision, or understanding/analysing the question would be great. Or even if you could reccomend any good online tutors (or tutoring agenices).

    Thanking you in advance,

    1. I don’t do A-level, but your plan makes sense. Study and understand the marking schemes and do all the past papers you can find. You have to understand the subject, which might mean doing some additional research on the topics to get more background info. Your tutor at college should be able to advise you.

  8. hi,

    My daughter is year 9, she is struggling with biology at the moment her last test she got 66%. she feels she knows what she is doing but seams to go blank in the test or she does not put enough content in the answers? can you help

    Thank you

  9. Hello my son is In year 8 and has both 7c’s for science and maths is that good or bad, if however it is bad how can I help.
    Would be really great if you replied thanks

  10. Hi bob,
    I am in year 11 and i would like to know that is further additional science important to get into colleges, as i have already done core science and additional science( i am taking the P2 exam again as i need a B in additional).

  11. Hi Bob,

    My son is in year 9 and is struggling very badly with maths and is borderline E/D grade at the moment but only at the beginning of year nine so Id like to help him get to a D and hopefully up to a C when he does his GCSE next year. I need advice on what books might help him to tackle problem areas such as algebra. His work ethic is quite low and this worrys me, he hates science but enjoys English. He is brilliant at music and PE, but I’m trying to push him to get better core subject grades as this will help him later on in life and getting into college. I’d like advice on how to get him motivated into doing extra study at home with me, his confidence is lacking I think. I did very well at school and university and appreciate he is not so much like me academic wise but as must parents, I ‘d like him to get the best he can at school.
    Many thanks

    1. You have a disinterested, under-performing teenager who has a poor work ethic and you’d like a good book on algebra for him? Really? There is endless advice given by many about how to ‘motivate’ teenagers; every situation is different. School textbooks and videos are great at explaining maths and science – there are no short cuts. For a teenager to become motivated when they don’t like a subject, there must be something in it for them and there must be a way to make it easier than it apparently is at the moment. Schools don’t teach students how to learn effectively and remember stuff. That’s why I teach what you might call ‘smart learning’, which uses various ideas to make the learning process manageable, if not exactly fun. If he is shown simple methods for learning and remembering for each subject (they are different), then he may become more confident and thus motivated. Many students at that age don’t believe they can learn well. I can’t advise you because I don’t know either of you and everyone is different. I know exactly what I’d do if he were one of my students though, but I can’t teach you how to do that.
      So – get a tutor who can show him how to be an effective learner, regardless of the subject. I hope that answer doesn’t annoy you too much.

  12. HI
    Can you please suggest me science and math study and work books for my year 9 son.( he is going to year 9 from september). His teacher told me he ll do Further Math in GCSE according to his year 8 result. In year 8 he got 7c in Math AND ALSO 7C in Science.He ll go in a high tier set in Science. He is my my elder son and i dont know which books i need to buy, so he can do start study in summer holidays. Please help me and guide me, which books are very very good. You can easily tell me more than 1 books.( as much as u can). And i need biology, physics and chemistry books.
    I ll be thankful to you.

    1. It depends on the exam board – especially for science! Either get the same one that your school uses (good idea) or look on Amazon for textbooks (around £17) that have recently been published. Make sure you get the ones for your son’s exam board. If in doubt about anything, call me on 07989 412 319.

  13. I have a daughter in year 10 who is an a grade student in all subjects apart from maths. Her results are between a c and d and not getting any better. She has always struggled with maths even down to telling the time. The school just say its a problem with her attendance as she has been off a few random days as she has torn her cartlidge in her knee and will be going into hospital within the next 8 weeks t have it operated on. This will mean she has to have 2 weeks off school and I am concerned. They do not seem t want t acknowledge the problem that she simply doesn’t understand it. They have told her t practice at home. She does what she can but as soon as she gets t something she doesn’t understand she is stuck as she has nowhere t go t ask for help. It feels like her maths teacher has washed her out. Is there anything I can ask the school to do to help her or even at home.

    1. Everyone is different – it would pay you to hire a experienced local tutor to sit with her as she does some of the things she gets stuck on. It sounds like the school hasn’t picked up on any problem, so you need a second opinion, in my opinion. You don’t need to commit to a lengthy set of private lessons; just a few can change a student’s level of confidence and motivate her for year 11.

  14. Hi, Mr Foster,
    Our son is in Year 10 and he has C as expected grades for most of subjects, but BFL is B and A,A*. And expected Grades for all is C. He is has B in math and science in the 2nd set. We’re confused by the school data because it looks like identical copy of previous one. We received only autumn report, and school delays with Christmas’s report. My wife went to school in November and asked to see the math and science teacher because we have concerns of our son progression and need some advice in supporting him of GCSE studies. She spoke with Key Stage Co-ordinator who promised to gather all necessary info and will come back to us soon. We asked to make appointment and speak with his teachers. In 2 weeks’ time we received a letter that our son is recognized by school as gifted and talented in ICT. We didn’t ask for this, we know that ICT is his passion; all we wanted to know how we can help him reach his best abilities and the best grades. We are still waiting for appointments with maths and science teachers, time goes by and we are so sorry to waste it. We would like to help our son, who can easily achieve higher grades, if he will have proper guides. We are both able to coach him, but we don’t know what best revision books we have to buy, so many of them and so many editions. The school leaflet recommended getting AQA books, but which ones? We bought Science Chemistry AQA but it’s 2006, however somebody told us it’s too old.
    Our son is good on the web – My Math, Bitesize, Sam Learning( not on his favourite list)and Doctor Brown, but he doesn’t do it systematically and persistently. We will appreciate any of your suggestions.
    Best wishes.

    1. Get an up to date textbook! Published 2010 or later. That’s all you need. Get the books for the correct exam boards. When he’s done all the worked examples, questions and exam-style questions, then use practice papers with their marking schemes. Call me if you’d like some help.

      1. Thank you for your quick response. We will definitely contemplate to ask for your help via Skype/phone later on.
        With kind regards,

  15. Hi Bob,

    I am twenty eight years old and starting night school next week to retake my GCSE Maths and English. I also wish to study science but this is not offered by my local adult education centre or college, my question is is there a way to study this subject independently and enter myself for the exam? I am more than willing to pay for private tuition.

    Kind regards,


  16. Hello
    I’m a mature student tackling the GCSE maths so that I can change my career to teaching.
    Unfortunately I was never good at maths during my school years and I’m still struggling with it. I’ve been told that OCR questions are less wordy and easier to grasp than Edexcel – would you agree.?



    1. No. Differences are very little. Have a look at the specimen papers and judge for yourself, but if you’re intending to get into teaching, you need to be able to understand maths and like it! You won’t do your pupils any favours if you tell them you don’t like the subject. If all you need is a C grade, and you have time to study regularly, you’ll be fine. Let me know if you need any on-line help.

  17. Hi my son got three fs in his science when he goes back in september he will be in year 11 he was meant to get 25 per cent for his science will he have to resit them?

    1. You can retake the exam if you want to – it depends on whether you think he can improve his grades that much. It’s a long way to go from F to C. If he’s doing additional science this year, it’s a separate GCSE so if he works well, he could get a good grade.

  18. Hello Bob,

    I have a 19 year son who wishes to retake maths gcse, and study for physics and possibly chemistry gcse also. He took maths(higher tier) at 16 and got a C and took the science double award at the same time securing a C in this as well. Needless to say he now regrets the almost total lack of effort and wants to move on. Whilst he is confident of being able to study at home for maths, he is unsure about how he will be able to sit the controlled assessment parts of the other subjects or even if it’s at all possible.

    Your advice would be much appreciated.


    1. One simple option is to take iGCSE, the international GCSEs. They don’t require controlled assessments – just papers. They’re accepted as being GCSE equivalent – in fact many independent schools are changing over to them. They are a little more demanding than normal GCSEs, but easy to study at home. That’s why they are the favourite of home-schooled teenagers. Give me a call if you’d like to have a chat about this option. 07989412319.

  19. Hi Bob,

    I wonder if you can offer some advice?

    Our daughter is in the top set for all her core subjects, however in Science this year, all but 8 of the Year 10 students from those the two top sets have been selected for the higher tier paper – something we are concerned about and is currently under investigation.

    However, as parents are we able to insist that she sits the higher paper for the remaining 2 exams? A friend of ours is the Head of Science in another local school, she suggested we can; however when I raised this with my daughters school, they implied that it was soley at the discretion of the teacher and that all decisions were based on her professional judgement alone.

    We will of course continue to pursue our argument, but wondered if, as parents, we had any real clout to overturn her decision?

    To help prepare her for the next exams we have decided to pay for private tutition – will this help our case?

    I look forward to hearing from you,


    1. As far as I know you don’t have a right in law, but in my experience if parents cause enough fuss, the school will eventually give in. It doesn’t surprise me that a teacher will not want to be swayed – all parents want their children to get the best grades possible, and teachers are paid to make these types of judgement. Showing them that you – and the student – are serious, may help, so telling them that you have a plan, including private tuition, may help.

      What is your child’s predicted grade? If it is less than a C, or borderline C/D then I understand the teachers point of view. However, if they fully expect a C, then it makes sense that a bit of extra effort / tuition can boost the grade up to a B or beyond.
      So, if you’re confident that your daughter can get a B or more, keep pressing. State your argument to the head of science and exams officer as well as the teacher(s) in question.

      Let me know what happens.

      1. Hi Bob,

        Thanks for your speedy response.

        Part of our frustration is that she was predicted a B, with the possibility of achieving an A if she applied a tad more effort!

        I understand that the foundation paper caps the grades at a C, but that she can reach an overall C grade if her controlled assessments are of a high standard.

        Our issue is that in Year 9 she was showing potential and now all of a sudden, despite being an able student in the top set, she’s not?

        Most of the problem seems to stem from topics not being covered in class, an obvious lack of feedback & the mock papers that were given to act as a revision tool, had not been marked adequately to indicate which answers were correct/incorrect.

        It is for these reasons we have totally lost faith in the teacher, her judgement and capability to get our daughter to where she wants to be. We have since purchased a revision guide, a copy of the workbook she uses in class and now the extra tuition.

        We hope that with all of this, we can get her to that place; but that does mean they will have to support her wish to sit the higher paper.

        I will let you know how we get on!

        Thanks again,


  20. Hi Bob,

    I have a question. My daughter is currently in year 10 and is doing core science. She recently sat higher tier Chemistry, and foundation Physics and Biology.exam papers. Can she get higher than a C if doing a combination of tiers. I think the exam board was WJEC. She did Biology back in May. Chemistry was 12 June and Physics 15 June I think.

    Many Thanks

    1. Hi Clare,

      Yes, you can get more than a C with a combination of higher and foundation papers. Of course, it depends on the marks in the foundation papers – and she’ll have to get a good mark in the higher papers. Each module can be taken again once, so the Biology and Physics marks could be improved if she feels confident of resitting.

      If in doubt about these things, talk to your school’s exams officer or phone the exam board. I often call the boards – they are very helpful.

      I’ll be preparing some science resources – basically how to learn science – over the summer, so keep in touch. Subscribe to my newsletter if you haven’t already.

  21. Hello, I stumbled across your website when I was looking for understanding the GCSE numerious ‘paths’ it really is confusing. Thank you for much needed info!
    My son will be sitting his GCSE Science (AQA unit 1) this june 2012. The problem is he has been put in the foundation tier for his science, is it possible for me to convince
    his teacher to let him ‘try’ the higher tier? But he has also not covered what the ‘higher tier’ students have covered. can we try and do those topics at home?
    How do I find out the topics he needs to study in Chemistry, Physics and Biology?

    Thank you ever so much in advance.

    1. There is actually very little difference between foundation and higher as far as topics are concerned. And most of the difference is in chemistry. It’s quite different from Maths in that regard. However, the questions are more challanging in higher tier.

      Your son should have a course textbook, and in it the higher tier topics will be marked – probably with a colour code – so it should be easy to revise those parts.

      In theory, your school should be able to change the tier this close to the exams, but they are often reluctant to do so. It’s entirely up to your powers of persuasion!

      An option is to ask to resit the exams text year at the higher level in January (possibley november? – not sure).

      Don’t forget that Additional Science in year 11 is a separate GCSE and if he takes the higher tier then, he’ll have the chance to get at least one high Science grade.

      I hope that helps,


  22. Hi Bob,
    I’m a GCSE student currently working towards that dreadful exam week. I’ve taken the easter holidays as an incentive to begin revising for my science modules (seperate sciences, higher tier) I’m predicted an A* but I find it hard to fit everything in within the space of two weeks. Memorising/timetable help?

    1. If you’re predicted an A*, then i assume you know most of the stuff, so the focus must be on testing yourself. Specimen or past papers with marking schemes are best – get hold of any examiners reports from the exam board website if you can – they’re really useful to point out common mistakes. workbooks and exam papers are good. BBC bitezise tests are good. Any collection of questions is good as long as you have answers. Looking through the glossary in your textbook is also a good idea – you need to know all the definitions.
      I wouldn’t worry too much about setting up timetables at this stage – your life is on hold right now – it revolves around getting ready for the exams – so the key is to be able to pace yourself. Test yourself for a short period, then break and relax. Find your best routine.
      Let me know if I’ve missed the point entirely!

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