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21 Responses

  1. Hi Bob,
    First can I say I’ve been reading your comments with relief – at last someone can explain the new maths GCSE system without over-complicating it! I have a daughter, now in Year 8, who is dyslexic. She has slow processing time and a weak memory for tables, number facts and formulas, so it takes her longer to learn, but she can learn well. At the moment she’s about a L5c, 5b on a good day. She is in sets which predict a max in Maths and given her future goals lie in the arts that should be OK. However, she isn’t struggling enough at school to warrant extra help so classwork and assessments are always challenging; she misunderstands a lot of information till I rephrase it at home, we look at BBC bitesize or something and then it goes in. That’s not a practical way of working everyday, though, because it takes too long and she doesn’t always ask for my help with a given unit until after an assessment and it’s gone wrong. Although motivated to work hard, she is beginning to pull away from my help. Her school appears to use the 3 year teaching model for GCSE, so she’d start next September. So, my question is, would regular tuition help and how often? Need to make sure she gets a C. Thanks for your time!

    1. I can’t say whether tuition will help in a particular case, although it usually does help, often in unexpected ways. It’s something you have to try for a couple of sessions and get decent feedback. Happy to help.

  2. Hi I am 25 years old and had a really tough time in school. I was confused about what I was doing. At my school they offered foundation, integrated and traditional. My friends went for foundation so I just followed along. I only got to take 5 GCSEs and I didn’t know I couldn’t get more than a C. So I ended up getting E’s for English and Maths.

    I want to retake English and Maths but I am self studying from the very bottom. I’m not really sure of the difference between these exam boards. Do I just pick one and study their past papers? What would be the benefit educationally of achieving B-A’s in these subjects? Obviously I’m too old to do apprenticeships or traineeships. I already did a level 3 Btec but would I need to do A levels?

    Kind regards

    1. You haven’t said what it is that you want to achieve. You can take whatever exams you want to. If you’re learning at home, then the iGCSE courses from Edexcel are the easiest as they don’t involved coursework or lab work. But there are lots of other other courses out there that you can find out about at your local college. Some are academic, like maths and English and some are geared towards learning work skills. But it all depends on where you want to end up!

      1. Thanks for the reply. I have decided that I am going to get a C in English and Maths. I think going for anything more would take up a lot of time and energy. I’m already struggling with basic maths. At the moment I’m learning how to do basic multiplication, subtraction and division again.

        I don’t know what I want to do in my life yet but having better GCSEs will help me there, I hope.

        1. OK – Lots of good books and videos available. Decide on an exam board, e.g. AQA, and get the appropriate textbook. is good for workbooks and exam papers. YouTube is full of decent videos.

          1. What’s the difference between AQA and Edexcel for maths? I took Edexcel for Maths and AQA for English at aschool. Thanks.

  3. Please can you help. My daughter has additional needs and attends a specialist school. She is in year10 and we have chosen double science ( had there been an option biology on its own I feel we stood a chance of getting a C). For science the school is registered with OCR. In May my daughter will sit foundation level but all 3 science subjects!!! And she will do B1-3, P1-3 and C1-3. Crazy in my opinion given that these kids struggle. Her twin who attends mainstream will sit AQA also in May but she has chosen triple science, she will only be doing B1-3 and the remaining subjects next year.
    My question- what other routes could the specialist school have chosen as OCR content compared to AQA seems complex. Could she have just done biology?
    My daughters friend is in mainstream but has learning difficulties is also sitting AQA will only sit core biology in May. This seem a much better option allowing a child to just focus on one subject, gain confidence and feel as though they stand a chance.
    All 3 sciences is too much and she just doesn’t get Physics. I have a meeting with the school this Wednesday to ask them to explain their rationale and discuss if we can just focus on 1-3 GCSE’s next year as she can’t cope with all the revision, HW.
    I’ve. done some research on Edexcel BTEC but not sure which would be best for children with learning difficulties.
    Sorry to waffle on. Thank you

    1. Hi – your daughter is not doing more than her twin. OCR and AQA have different ways of describing their courses. Both do Core, Additional and Further Additional for each science. AQA call their core science B1, C1 and P1 – simple. OCR divide each of their Core sciences into three modules called 1, 2 and 3. So, for example, B1, B2 and B3 together are the same in OCR as B1 is for AQA. OCE additional science consists of B4, B5, B6, C4, C5, C6, and P4, P5, P6. That completes what you might call ‘double science’ (Core and Additional).

      BTEC is not very good and has been downgraded in importance. If your daughter takes just one science, then she has to take the whole subject in one sitting – that’s core, additional and further additional all in one go. If she were home schooled, she could take the international GCSE in an individual science, which has no practical exam.

      Hope that helps.

  4. Hi,
    My son is in year 11. He failed his maths and physics exams in year 10. In his mock exams recently he achieved grade F for both subjects. what can I do to help him achieve a minimum grade C in these subjects?
    Any advice would be greatly appreciated

    1. My advice will depend on why he did badly. Is F his predicted grade? Did he do any revision? Does he normally do better? What do his teachers think? Does he work on his own at home? And so on…
      Happy to advise if I have a bit more information – feel free to call me.

  5. Hello Bob,
    I am 55 years of age and determined to pursue a degree course in Mental Health Nursing . Among the admission requirements are credit in Maths, English and Science. Apart from the fact that I performed poorly in English and Maths at that time O levels, I have lost my certificate acquired in Africa since 1975. Bob, what advice can you offer me to rewrite these subjects, to enable me gett admission for the course I desire to pursue? I already have Bachelor in Business Administration.


    1. Hi Henry,
      The first thing is to find out exactly what they mean by a credit. If it’s a pass (grade C or above) at GCSE, then you’ll really have to go with taking the International GCSE (iGCSE) in those subjects. The reason is that they don’t involved coursework or practicals, so you just have to read the textbooks and take the exams. I have a number of students taking these exams. On this website there are details of the science course .
      Edexcel iGCSE website is at


  6. Hello. I am 20 years old wanting to retake my maths gcse. My past exam I got a E grade for maths. I honestly find maths to be challenging but I am determined to get a good grade this time of round. Is there anything you can advise me on like how this works and how long it wil take for me to be prepared and take the exam and also the cost ?

    1. Taking maths privately is quite simple as there is no coursework. So all you have to do is get an up-to-date textbook and you can learn everything from that. Of course, there are other resources that you can use as well – videos, workbooks, revise guides, past papers and specimen papers, all of which are useful. Tuition costs £25 per hour, but you might not need much is you are motivated. You’ll need to find a local exam centre and enter the exam for next June – deadline usually late February. Let me know if I can help with the tuition.

  7. Hi my son took his year 10 science exam he had his results back on thursday he got 3 fs 25 per cent of the exam goes towards his year 11 science so will he have to take his science again?He done the foundation science papers.

  8. Hi Bob…….

    Thanks for your quick response. As I thought….he would end up having to retake all three which again puts a a lot of pressure on an already big year, which yr 11 will surely be! I did contact the school today but I was too late catching the exam officer so I will try and speak with him tomorrow.
    My son will be doing the Additional Science so hopefully the grade we want will be achieved.

    Many thanks for responding.

  9. Hi Bob

    My son recently took the Foundation Tier F Science (yr 10) and received his result today scoring an overall D. He had worked very hard and was disappointed to have got this mark. The breakdown was a “c” in chem, “c” in physics, “e” in biology and “d” in the ISA. My question is, is he able to take just the biology as a re-sit to bump up the overall grade from a D to a C? I worry that if all three subjects have to be re-taken this could jeapodise the good “c” grades he achieved for chem and physics.
    Also would the re-sit be taken in November or January?

    I hope this makes sense!! Many thanks


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