GCSE Maths Retake Revision

Do you have to retake your GCSE maths exams this year? If so, then you’ve come to right place. We’ve put together the top 5 things you need to know to give you the best chance of passing your GCSE maths retake. We’ve asked top maths teachers and tutors what students need to know and brought it all together for you in this post. If you maintain focus on these 5 points and do plenty of revision, then you can be confident of getting a grade 5 later this year.  

Retaking your GCSE maths exams is tough. The chances are you’ve not done any maths work for at least a few months leading up to results day and you will now be trying to remember your algebra from your trigonometry. Remember not to panic at this point. Take on board the advice of the experts below and take control of your revision to ensure success. 

The 5 things to focus on as you start your work are: 

1. Consistent and Quality Revision

Start your revision early and keep going consistently through to the exam. Don’t cram your work into the last few weeks. Write a revision plan now, ensuring you can go through every key topic by exam day. Stick to your plan and don’t miss any sessions. 

Work in 30-minute revision sessions taking breaks in between to ensure your brain is rested and ready to learn. Quality revision is NOT just reading through your notes. You need to be doing lots of practice questions. If you get stuck then look at your revision notes or online resources to figure out how to solve the problem. This process helps to make connections that will stay in your brain longer and translate into exam success.

2. Confidence in Your Ability

Don’t ever say ‘I can’t do maths’. Teachers hear this said all of the time, but everyone can do maths and everyone can pass GCSE maths with the right level of support and work ethic. 

You can do it! Believe in yourself and do the work you need to be successful. 

3. Personalise Your Approach to the Exam

This sounds unusual, but being successful in GCSE maths exams is about understanding what you need to know and showing the examiner what you can do. Do plenty of practice exam papers under timed conditions and you’ll start to develop a strategy for approaching the exam that works best for you. 

Here is an example of what I mean. Some teachers will tell you to start with the big mark questions and then do the easier ones at the end. Personally, I never liked this approach and instead I always started at the beginning, used the 1 or 2 mark questions to get warmed up and to ease my nerves. I then felt more confident and ready to tackle the more difficult questions. 

This approach won’t be right for everyone. You need to think of an approach that allows you to get the best possible marks. Practicing under timed conditions is the way to do this. You can find links below to the AQA and OCR exam boards’ past papers to get you started.

AQA past papers

OCR past papers

4. Focus on the Key Building Blocks

You need to learn your basics first. It sounds simple, but one of the biggest mistakes our teachers see is when students start by revising the toughest exam topics without a proper understanding of the basics.

Make sure you’re confident with things like fractions, decimals, percentages, basic algebra, shape and area before going any further. 

Try starting with some of our GCSE maths resources from our free learn online page. We’ve put together guides and sets of questions covering all the basics. 

5. Don’t be afraid to ask for help

Ask as many questions as possible. Even with the basics it’s only by asking for help that we can make sure we understand things properly. As a personal tutor I always encourage my students to ask me questions. 

When I was at school I wasn’t very good at this one. I was quite quiet and didn’t like to ask questions in front of a big class. It took me a few years to learn the benefit of asking about and discussing topics with teachers, tutors and fellow students. Try starting by asking a trusted teacher, friend or parent and build up to asking lots of questions in class. 

You can even ask me a question using the comment box below or our contact page

Revising GCSE maths


Don’t panic. It’s disappointing when you get a set back like having to retake your GCSE maths exams, but if you pass next year then you can forget about it and go on to new and exciting things! Focus on the 5 key areas in this post, write your revision plan and stick to it. You can do it!

6 thoughts on “5 strategies to pass your GCSE Maths Retake”

      1. Hi there , I would love to get some help. I failed again this year with a 3 grade, as I had corona virus for 6 month. I’m an adult, so I don’t think I’m allowed to retake the exam now, that my health is much better.

        1. Hi Lorraine, thanks for your comment. We’d be happy to provide some help with one of our expert maths tutors. You can contact us through the website to arrange some initial advice and a first lesson with one of our tutors.

  1. Lucas O'Connor

    Hello, I am sticking to your five points and it’s going well for me with revision for maths resit. This will be the third time I retake maths so I was wondering if you had any advice on time management in the exams ( I struggle with this) but I am getting better.

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