Revision Buddies Blog

What’s new about Maths?

Colin stobartFor those of you that didn’t know, GCSE Maths has had a bit of a shake up recently and now all students who are studying GCSE Maths are following the new GCSE syllabus which is somewhat bigger than before!

So when the curriculum changes, so does Revision Buddies, and as there has been some confusion about exactly what has changed our maths author Colin Stobart has kindly volunteered to guide you through these updates.

Colin, is it true that I can no longer get an A in Maths?

The first examinations for the new Mathematics GCSE syllabus is June 2017. Grading will be on a number basis, 9-1, with 9 being the highest grade and 1 being the lowest. It is difficult to match previous A*-G alongside this but it is anticipated that grades 4/5 will roughly equate to the D/C grade boundary. There are still Foundation and Higher Tiers, but instead of 2 there will be 3 examinations, 1 non-calculator and 2 with calculator.


But maths is still maths, right?

Not exactly. The content of the syllabus has been changed in two ways. The entire content has been expanded by approximately 20%, requiring generally that schools add an extra 1 hour of mathematics per week for the 2 year course. The syllabus has also been restructured with a new Ratio, Proportion and Rates of Change section being introduced. New content has been added to the Higher Tier, some content that was previously Higher Tier only will be examined at Foundation, some content is new to both tiers and a few topics have been removed from the syllabus altogether.


This sounds like a lot of work! Anything else I should know?

Students will no longer be provided with a formula sheet, with only formula related to spheres and cones being provided within relevant examination questions. Some topics have been removed.


So how has this affected the Revision Buddies GCSE Maths app?

We’ve written two new sections Ratio, Proportion and Rates of Change (Calculator and Non Calculator) and added new content to match the new syllabus, we’ve also taken out content where it is no longer required.


The content of the 5 Sections (content in bold represents content that will be examined on the Higher Tier only) is written below:

Number (Calculator and Non – Calculator):

Ordering integers, decimals and fractions; the four operations; place value; BIDMAS; prime numbers, factors, multiples, HCF, LCM, prime factorisation, systematic listing strategies, the product rule for counting; integer powers and real roots; estimate powers and roots; fractional indices; fractions, surds, and π, simplify surd expressions, rationalise denominators; standard form; terminating decimals; recurring decimals; fractions in ratio; fractions and percentages as operators.


Data Handling – Probability and Statistics (Calculator and Non – Calculator):

Frequency; Randomness, fairness and equality; relative expected frequency; exhaustive and mutually exclusive events; empirical and theoretical probability; sets – tables, grids, Venn and tree diagrams; possibility spaces; independent and combined events; conditional probability using two-way tables, tree and Venn diagrams; populations and samples; frequency tables, bar charts, pie charts, pictograms, vertical line charts, time series diagrams; grouped and continuous data; histograms; cumulative frequency; comparison of distributions; box plots; quartiles and inter-quartile range; determining mode, median and mean; applying statistics; scatter graphs


Algebra (Calculator and Non – Calculator):

Algebraic manipulation; substitution; simplifying algebraic expressions and algebraic fractions; rearranging formulae; use algebra to argue equivalence and proof; functions; inverse functions; inverse functions; coordinates; graphs of straight lines and perpendicular lines; gradient and intercept; the significant points of a quadratic curve; turning point by completing the square; sketch and interpret graphs including exponential and of the trigonometric functions; translations and reflections of functions; gradient and area under a curve; equation of a circle; solve linear equations; solve quadratic equations by factorising, graph, completing the square and quadratic formula; simultaneous equations – linear/linear, linear/quadratic; iteration; derive and solve equations; linear, quadratic inequalities, set notation; arithmetic sequences; triangular, square, cubic, Fibonacci, quadratic and geometric sequences; sequences with surds


Geometry (Calculator and Non – Calculator):

Standard compass constructions; angles at a point, on a straight line, vertically opposite angles, angles within parallel lines; angles in and types and properties of triangles; properties of special types of quadrilaterals; congruence; similarity; transformations including enlargement with fractional and negative scale factors; combinations of transformations; circle vocabulary; circle theorems; plans and elevations; maps, scale drawing and bearings; areas of 2D shapes; volume and surface area of 3D objects; similarity between length, area and volume; Pythagoras and trigonometric ratios in 2 and 3 dimensions; know the exact cos/sin/tan values of a range of angles; sine and cosine rules for angle and side length; sine rule for area; vectors; use vectors in geometrical proof


Ratio, proportion and rates of change (Calculator and Non – Calculator):

Scale factors, diagrams and maps; ration notation and simplest form; divide quantities into parts; multiplicative relationships; percentages, fractions and decimals; compare percentages; percentage change; simple and compound interest; Speed, rates of pay, density and pressure; ratio applied to length, area and volume; direct and inverse proportion; instantaneous change on a graph; growth and decay and iterative processes


Topics that have been removed completely are:

Trial and improvement, tessellations, isometric grids, Imperial units of measure, questionnaires, 3D coordinates, and the rotation and enlargement of functions.

Techniques for GCSE Revision – with Cleverstore and Revision Buddies

We found this excellent blog post written by our friends at CleverTouch and thought it was definitely worth sharing here. See the original blog post here.

Teachers with students gearing up for mock GCSEs and their final exams in the summer know just how challenging revising can be. To minimise pressure and stress, students need to revise smarter using a range of techniques, which help to improve their working memory and concentration.

We all know that rest, physical exercise and a balanced diet plays a huge part in getting youngsters into the right frame of mind for revision. Furthermore, evidence suggests that students who revise in a quiet location retain more information than those listening to loud music while they study. But what else can be done to help important information filter through and stay put?

Students should aim to space out their revision of key subjects into short concentrated sessions over a period of two weeks to commit that information to memory. It’s a well-researched fact that testing yourself is one of the best ways to improve memory recall and identify areas for improvement.

At Clevertouch, our secondary school apps help students to do just that. All UK secondary schools with Clevertouch Plus get a free one year Revision Buddies School Licence, which normally costs £999. With a Revision Buddies School Licence, students have free access to all the Revision Buddies apps on their home devices.

With 1000s of multiple choice questions, split into each topic of the relevant syllabus, Revision Buddies apps test students’ knowledge, helps them to find gaps in their learning and tracks their progress over time. Each question within the app has an in-depth explanation and signposts external resources, such as past papers and mark schemes, so that students can prepare themselves for exams.

And, there’s no reason teachers can’t get in on the act using the Revision Buddies Teacher Dashboard, which allows them to set work for students to do on their devices and review their results to help target learning areas that need extra focus.

With a five-star rating from the Educational App Store, all content in the Revision Buddies apps has been written and produced in accordance with the relevant syllabus criteria by teachers, examiners and qualified academics.

So, if you want to give students a head start and combat exam pressure choose Clevertouch Plus.

If you already have Clevertouch Plus then you can register your school for the free one year Revision Buddies School Licence here.

It’s revision time and we’re here to help!

Some Helpful Hints for Creating Your GCSE Revision Planner

Got exams this year and don’t know where to start? Don’t panic! Revising is actually not that difficult, you just need to organise yourself and manage your time, so we’ve put together a few simple steps to get you on your way to create the perfect revision timetable – your recipe for success!
Your revision timetable will be your saviour, your lifeblood, and help you to make sure that you have got it all covered, from start to finish. The key is to work out what you need to revise and in how much detail, you can then plan how much time you need and plot it out. Most importantly though, make sure it is manageable and that you approach your revision in a way that you find engaging. Being prepared will help you feel ready for when the exams come round so you can take them all in your stride!  
1.Getting organised. Stock up on things that you will need so you’re ready to go, like…Highlighters, Pens, Revision Cards, Post it notes, Paper and why don’t you download some Revision Buddies apps, just to shake it up a bit! Make sure that you have a quiet, calm area for studying, with no distractions.         
2.Split out key topics within each subject..
Remember, you can’t eat an elephant! Making a revision plan requires breaking things down into manageable chunks. Split your subjects into key topics that you know you need to cover for each exam – If you’re struggling here, have a look at a Revision Buddies app where we show you how this is done.
Don’t forget that some topics will be longer than others, and there will be some that you feel you know already – make a separate list for each subject with its topics, you can then cross them off once you’ve covered them. Hurray!        
3.Creating the planner: It’s up to you to decide what works for you – start by looking at how many weeks you have, and then break it down into weekly chunks – we’ve made this nice and simple, just download Revision Buddies’ weekly revision planner and fill it in!
You can download a printable pdf here: 
Or an editable word doc here that you can save to your computer:
Starting early is important, your brain will not be able to recall as well if you cram all of your revision into a space or 2 weeks of all day revising.    
4. Mix it up! It’s tempting sometimes to stick to learning the things you like to learn about or find easiest, but make sure that you give plenty of time to topics that you find hard or enjoy less – you won’t be able to escape them in the exam!
It’s a good idea to balance the subjects that you enjoy with those that you might not want to do so much – maybe to two sessions a day that you will like, and one or two that you might not. Remember to revisit topics that you find challenging regularly so that they get fixed in your brain – you can also use our apps to test your knowledge for certain topics once completing them – just to check that you know all that you need for the exam.
5. How long should I revise for at a time? Your brain can’t concentrate all day long, you need to take breaks and make sure that you are not doing the same thing all the time – our planner is made so that you can divide up your time into half hour slots if you like – do whatever works for you, but remember to plan in some breaks!
6.Try to plan to work at times that are best for you Some people concentrate best in the morning, others better in the afternoon – you need to choose what works for you and plan accordingly. If you lose concentration in the afternoon, do more in the morning so you have a productive day.  
7. Give yourself a break from time to time – plan in downtime Downtime is crucial to a happy and productive brain! You need to give your mind a chance to process all you’re learning, and also to have fun whilst you are revising so that you don’t get too bogged down and stressed out. Make sure you include breaks in your plan, but also factor in your evening treats, the odd morning off or maybe something to take your mind off things over the weekend.
8. Build in a variation of revision / practice questions / creating essay plans / mindmapping / revise with a friend Varying your revision techniques can also be a way to make things seem less formulaic and boring. There might be days you want to read textbooks and make summary notes, there might be days where you have practice questions / example essays you can do too – fit these into the timetable where you think this might be a nice way to round up / finish off a topic or would like a bit of a change of pace.
We include past papers and mark schemes in our apps as this helps you to focus, understand the format of your exam and will also help you with planning your timing of questions. You could also try mind mapping – this is like a spider diagram of all the information you have on a topic. You can also revise with friends, this can help to share information and talk through topics – if they’re not nearby you could use our apps to upload your results of each topic to facebook and twitter.
9. Be flexible! When you make your timetable, don’t be overly ambitious with what you think you can achieve because sometimes, especially after a day of good revision, we find that our brains just aren’t working and we need to take some time out. Don’t worry, this is normal – there will be times when you really don’t fancy revising at all. You can always swap this slot with one of your planned mornings off and add in the sessions you had planned into another day. There will also be times when you’ll be absorbed in a subject and want to continue with it instead of breaking your train of thought – if so, just rejig accordingly too. You might well end up rewriting your planner out a few times, but that’s fine – it’s got to be a timetable that works for you. Make sure you know what you’d like to achieve on a weekly basis but don’t make it too rigid, otherwise it will just freak you out rather than help you with your organisation.
11. Colour codes Colour coding can be very useful – this is up to you as to what works best but you could do this subject by subject perhaps or by what type of revision technique you’re going to use. This will also brighten up what could be quite a black and white timetable – try and make it look in some way appealing – it will help just to look at it!
12. Getting your exam timetable Once you have your exam timetable – put it in your planner. This will give you a good idea of how long you have left until your exam dates. It will also help you to know  what you’ll need to concentrate on nearer the time for any final revision, and you will have the end date in sight so you can start making a plan and looking forward to your free time!
13. Share your plans! Once you’ve made your plan, share it with your family so that they can support you and they know when they can and can’t disturb you. Good luck, making your plan is the half of it, once you’ve done that you can be stress free, knowing you’ve given yourself enough time to get everything covered!
14. Last but not least.. Remember to plan in some time using our GCSE revision apps. Time away from your desk no longer needs to be written off as time that you can’t revise, so if you have any car or bus journeys coming up remember to mark them in on your planner as revision app time!
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Raising the grades – GCSE History

What is the simplest way of raising the GCSE pass of your History students by one grade?

It is frustrating when you see a student who you know could get a grade C at GCSE instead dropping to a D. You know that with just a little more work and a little more revision that student could have gone up one, or even two, grades.

The same is true with the A student who could have got an A*. Just a bit more work, and it all could have been so different.

But it is even worse when the student claims that he or she really did revise. You know the student probably did revise – but clearly not with the right amount of focus and not on exactly the right subjects.

So what can be done?

The answer is almost certainly twofold. First, most students need help in seeing exactly what does need to be revised. And they need to test themselves rather than just “read through.” That much is obvious and usually recognised.

But second, the student needs to be encouraged to revise in short, meaningful bursts, paying full attention to the work all the way through.

However, since revision takes place outside of the focus of school, it can be hard to achieve this. Or at least until now.

For now, there is a different approach – an approach which takes the student’s everyday preferences and works with them to create a learning environment with which the student feels completely at ease.

This approach involves providing the student with a complete set of interactive revision materials for GCSE History which can be viewed and used on mobile phones and tablets. Materials which can be used whether the device has a connection to the internet or not.

In this way the student can work in short, sharp bursts, travelling to and from school, at home, during lunch breaks, etc, no matter where he or she is.

Better still, we are now offering the app which provides this facility, and schools can now purchase student licences. The student just needs to log on and then the app will be fully enabled. The Revision Buddies GCSE History app costs under £3 per student – surely the lowest cost revision guide that there is.

To find out more and see the details of the syllabuses covered by the app, please do take a look at our website, or if you have any questions please email us (

Girls at all girls schools achieve better GCSE results

Does it matter to students whether they revise using a book, a mobile, or a tablet?

We’re conducting some research about how students use mobile phones and tablets to revise and we’re sending out the following message to teachers in the UK. If you are a teacher and you’d like to contribute then please take a look at the short questionnaire…


There is a body of opinion that holds the view that one of the factors that can reduce a student’s willingness to revise is that the revision may well involve a textbook or set of notes.

The reasoning is that because the student’s everyday life is focussed on digital devices, such as tablets and mobile phones, this makes it less likely that they will revise during the journey to and from school, during the lunch break, or indeed when at home unless they can do so on their tablet or mobile.

Further it is argued that if revision material were to be available on digital devices it is likely that some of the more revision-averse students could be drawn into doing a bit more homework.

We’d very much like to know your views on the subject, and so we’ve set up a short questionnaire and would appreciate if you could complete it.

There are only five questions and it really will only take one minute to answer them. Your answers will be very helpful in directing the way revision materials are developed for students in the future.

Please click here to take part in the survey.

If you would like to know our findings please send us an email request, and we’ll let you know in a few weeks.

George Webb

Revision Buddies

The fight for your civil right

Have you ever considered what it might have been like to live as a black person in the deep south of America during the 20th century?

Revision Buddies have put together this quiz to help you understand the fight for equality and civil rights during this time, take a look and see how much you know!

Want to learn more? Try our GCSE History app, which covers US race and relations, as well as lots of other topics that will help you to improve your knowledge, deepen your understanding and help you on your way to acing that GCSE exam!

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Edtech – the solution for overworked, underpaid teachers?

Teachers are in need of more support, they aren’t going to get it from working parents, and the government will just increase its burden of bureaucracy. Perhaps technology is the answer.



Over recent years governments have tossed and turned their national curriculum, teaching methods and the school system, desperate to rescue the British education system from constant criticism of lagging league tables and from fierce competition abroad. However, despite these changes, the funding required to implement them have been diminishing and the question lies in how any effective changes can be made when this crucial factor is removed.
A good education system needs support – not just financially from the government, but also from the parents that send their children to be educated. But when that support isn’t there – when there is no parent reading to their children at night, when no one is helping to test for a spelling test, and the government strips back funding but continues to add to the box ticking and ofsted inspections, what then?


If there has been one thing increasingly lacking in the support network for teachers, there has also been another that has quietly been taking the world by storm. For a generation not taught with computers, it is hard to adapt to the new age of thinking, however, little by little we are creating a world of educational technology that can support teachers, and ultimately students in their day to day learning, filling the gap that is being missed by parents and the government and relieving time pressure on teachers.


We built Revision Buddies apps because we realised that not everybody has a pushy parent (sorry mum), nor the environment where learning is encouraged, but there seemed to be one thing that was catching young people’s attention: their phones.  We wanted to develop something that would give everyone the opportunity to interact with their revision – to be able to take it with them wherever they went. We all need to be congratulated when we’re doing well and encouraged when we’re not – we also need to know when we are and aren’t doing well and to be shown where our learning gaps lie. With teachers over stretched, parents out at work, and students increasingly using the internet in their spare time, what better way to engage them with revision than through the avenues that they use the most?




But it wasn’t just about the students. We also wanted to give teachers more time to use in their classroom, so that they can help teach students to apply their knowledge, rather than using their revision sessions to run over the basic facts. Flipped classroom learning can really work with the right tools and we look to take on the job of making sure that students have the knowledge they need, and to help both them and their teachers to identify areas or topics that need more attention. This in turn allows teachers the time in the classroom to make sure that their teaching is effective with no opportunity for anyone to be left struggling quietly in the corner.


Technology in education carries a heavy head. Previously clunky, lacking in clear functionality and often dubious in its content, it is a no wonder that schools have been slow to take up the edtech revolution that is occurring. When we joined the CleverTouch CleverStore, they told us that one of their main challenges had been to find genuinely good educational apps. With so much on offer, filtering those that were created by someone looking to make a quick buck and those that are meticulously developed to ensure that teachers can rely on them and students can have confidence in them is a serious issue. As far as we’re aware, before the Cleverstore, the only educational platforms available seemed to promote those that paid them the most money and this is where the CleverStore differs. Each app that has been selected for the Cleverstore has been sought out and rigorously tested (not only in terms of functionality, but also for its relevance with regard to the National Curriculum) by the Sahara team to bring to the classroom the apps that they believe will be most effective for classroom learning, and useful resources for students and teachers alike.


It is with the smart, integrated system that the CleverTouch is able to transform the classroom environment, removing the faff and allowing seamless educational technology that actually works and is relevant. It is only once we build this confidence in technology, that we can start to see the benefits of the flipped classroom, to develop student’s skills for the modern world and get the government to turn its attention to developing its core subjects for the future, such as integrating coding at GCSE, rather than arguing whether John Steinbeck or Jane Austen would be the better set text of an antiquated system of the past.


Revision Buddies if available on the CleverStore, GooglePlay and the AppStore – read all about us here:

Learn more about the flipped classroom here:

Women, know your rights!

Annie_Kenney_and_Christabel_PankhurstFound all that hard work and exams exhausting?

Did you know that if you were a girl living 100 years ago, you would have been unlikely to even have been at school. Your aim would have been to find a good husband, with your role to look after the children and home. Take a look at this quiz to learn about the women’s rights – those who fought for your rights to be educated, to work on equal pay to vote and to be able to divorce your husband. See how hard people sought to fight for their rights and get inspired to make a change to your future!

Your knowledge not quite up to scratch? Use the Revision Buddies History app to learn more about the changing role of women during the 1st and 2nd world wars.