NEW FOR 2022 – EXAM ADVANCE INFORMATION

To support students and teachers preparing for GCSE and A-Level exams in 2022, the exam boards are required to provide “advance information” for most subjects.

ABOUT ADVANCE INFORMATION

If you’re taking GCSE or A-Level exams in the summer of 2022, then you need to know about something called ADVANCE INFORMATION. It’s been a really tough time recently for students – particularly the current Year 11s and Year 13s, who have never sat public exams before. So, to help students whose education has been disrupted during the pandemic, the government have told exam boards to provide some special exam guidance to teachers and students for 2022. This guidance is called ADVANCE INFORMATION.

The purpose of Advance Information is to help communicate to students and teachers SOME, but not all of the aspects of the GCSE and A-Level specifications that will be assessed in the 2022 exam papers. And we stress SOME, not ALL. So why is advance information being provided? Well, as it stands, for nearly all GCSE & A-Level exams in 2022, there won’t be any changes, or modifications to the usual structure of the papers. There are a few subjects where there will be changes. But for most, NO CHANGE For example, they’ll be no changes to how many papers you sit, how many questions are set, how many marks for each, and how your answers are assessed! Now, in many ways that’s a good thing – since the exam papers you will sit will look just like the ones that have been using to practice. So, you’ll be able to use past papers really effectively – they’re a great way to get used to the question format AND DEVELOP YOUR EXAM TECHNIQUE.

Instead, Advance Information is intended to help you focus some, BUT NOT ALL your revision on some key topic areas and themes. So, how’s it going to work? Well each exam board will provide Advance Information in different ways, and it will also vary by subject! The exam boards are required to publish the Advance Information for all of your subjects by 7 February 2022. Now this is important! Advance Information is intended to SUPPORT your revision and to help your teachers structure their lessons once the course specification has been completed and your are into revision mode.

Advance Information is NOT DESIGNED to tell you which questions will appear in the exam papers! The exam boards have to make sure that the Advance Information does not allow students to ‘QUESTION SPOT and use pre-prepared and memorized answers! So, WHEN should Advance Information be used? Well, you’ll be able to use it as soon as it is released. Once the information is available, you’ll be able to see, along with your teachers, which parts of your specification are worth the most focus But, don’t forget, Advance Information won’t necessarily be the same. For some of your subjects, you might be told what the topic focus for the high mark or high tariff questions might be. If your subject has quantitative skills, like Economics , Business Psychology or Geography, you might be told which quantitative skills, or which research methods will be examined. The key will be to listen to your teachers and take their advice on how best to respond to the advance information for your subject and exam board And of course all our subject teams will be looking at how we can help you make the most from advance information.

Why is non verbal reasoning important?

Non-Verbal Reasoning is not generally taught in schools. In fact there’s very little to actually teach as it is not an academic subject.

For most parents the 11-Plus, Non-Verbal Reasoning is the stuff of nightmares! The main problem is that children will not have been taught the subject in class time at primary school and it is highly likely that parents have never been taught it either.

Non-Verbal Reasoning tests for the Eleven Plus are akin to intelligent tests and some of the questions presented to the 10-year-olds would be a challenge even to Mensa members.

This type of test is meant to help determine the innate ability of children and thereby assess their suitability for secondary education at a fast pace. The tests are designed to be tutor-proof – a somewhat clumsy term often used in the world of education to imply that it is difficult to prepare children for the type of question they will be faced with.

Non-Verbal reasoning tests were designed to try and differentiate between children from diverse educational backgrounds. To make the point in an extreme way the idea was that the same test could identify potential when given to a child from a very good educational background or a child who has had very little education. The tests deliberately use very little English so no real comprehension ability is needed to understand what to do.

In practice of course no test is perfect and Non-Verbal Reasoning tests are useful in helping to identify potential but are never used exclusively. Schools also want to make sure that children have very solid core Maths and English skills because otherwise they simply cannot progress well at their chosen secondary school.

So Non-Verbal Reasoning is used in combination with other test forms.

What’s included in Non-Verbal Reasoning tests for children

The essence of Non-Verbal Reasoning is that it tests a child’s logic and observational skills by giving them collections of shapes and patterns; they then might need to find the odd one out, or two shapes which are most similar to each other or to find a missing shape in a series from options given. Children need no particular Maths or English skills to answer the questions although an awareness of shapes symmetry and reflection is useful.

One hope for the designers of Non-Verbal reasoning tests was that they could not be coached for. In fact as in all tests some preparation does help, although because there are no core skills to learn (vocabulary or times tables for instance) preparation is of limited use.

Non-Verbal Reasoning preparation overview

The best results are delivered by doing some work to understand the different question types and then doing some example questions and papers. The largest improvement can be made by improving speed and accuracy, understanding what is required is the easy part. Most tests differentiate children through the sheer number of questions they ask rather than the difficulty level. Most families find that their children can score very highly in rapid time. However families also find their children reach a plateau which is difficult to overcome.

Here’s an example of a easy question:

Shapes:

Which shape is most unlike the others?

 Answer D – In all the other figures the black shape is in front of the white shape

Counting:

When trying to spot patterns one of the things I recommend is to count the number of sides, lines or shapes presented to see if there’s a link.

2) Look at how the first two figures are changed, and then work out which option would look like the third figure if you changed it in the same way:

NVR Counting

Answer C – The number of sides of the white shape becomes the number of points on the black shape. The number of small lines becomes the number of sides of the white shape.

Pointing:

If a question has arrows in it the first thing I would recommend is to look for a pattern in the direction that they are pointing.

3) Which shape is most unlike the others? 

D – because the arrow is pointing away from the circle. All the other shapes the arrow is pointing towards from the circle

Shading & Line types:

Always look for a pattern in how the lines and shading may change.

4) Look at how the first two figures are changed, and then work out which option would look like the third figure if you changed it in the same way:

Answer D – The large and small shapes swap shadings. The outline of the large shape becomes dashed.

Order & Position:

Check to see how a shape is positioned in relation to the other shapes.

5) Look at how the first two figures are changed, and then work out which option would look like the third figure if you changed it in the same way:

Answer D – The shape at the back moves to the front and the shape at the front moves to the back. The two shapes at the top swap shading.

Rotation:

It will make life easier if you know what a 45 degree and 90 degree rotation looks like. Also, when a shape is rotated, check the direction, whether it’s been rotated clockwise or anti-clockwise could be the key to the correct answer. The direction is irrelevant for a 180 degree rotation.

 6) Work out which option would look like the figure on the left if it was rotated:

Answer A – The figure is rotated 180 degrees. Option B has been rotated and reflected. In option C, two of the arrows are the wrong length. In option D, the diamond is missing and two of the arrowheads are wrong.

Reflection:

Imagine placing a mirror where the line (mirror line) is drawn. What would the object look like when peering into the mirror? Initially, you could use a small mirror when working on reflections as a learning aid.

7) Work out which option would like the figure on the left if it was reflected over the vertical line. 

Answer A – Option D looks almost identical, but the white rectangle is smaller than the original shape. Option B the black arrow has moved to the front of the rectangle and in option C, the black arrow is in the original position and has not been reflected.

Layering

This relates to the position of shapes either in front of or behind another shape.

8) The first figure below is changed in some way to become the second. Choose the figure on the right that relates to the third figure in the same way that the second relates to the first. 

B – The top and bottom shapes disappear leaving the middle circle. The stripes from the top shape move to the bottom and the checks from the bottom shape move to the top.

Elimination

You can see with a glance that option A cannot be a rotation of the shape on the left, therefore, eliminate it and I would recommend crossing it out. When pressed for time, and believe me they will be, it’s easy for the brain to become frazzled and confused when confronted with several options. So, cross out the options that are incorrect so that there’s less to consider and you won’t have to give it a second glance or five! 

9) Work out which option would look like the figure on the left if it was rotated:

Answer C – Option D is a reflection.

What’s our approach to NVR?

There’s no need to reinvent the wheel, which is  why we use the following method:

  • We take time to demonstrate what they should be looking for. For example, shapes, counting, rotations, pointing, elimination, etc. 
  • Students will then practise this skill before moving onto the next.
  • Once this process is complete we will then practise questions that are a combination of the areas below, as they are now in a stronger position to answer these correctly.  

13 Reasons Why Online Tutoring is the Best

13 Great Reasons To Invest in Online Tutoring

Even though the COVID pandemic played a major role in the prolific rise of the virtual classroom phenomenon, we are not unfamiliar with the fact that edtech has always had the potential to boom beyond limits.  

So when the coronavirus was crippling the education system all over the world, putting the future of students in a fix, online tutoring emerged as a silver lining, with many students, teachers, and parents placing their trust in the virtual tutoring setup. 

After more than a year of pandemic and students, parents, teachers and schools turning to digital learning, research done by CoSN in 2021 found that digitally prepared districts were able to leverage teacher collaboration during pandemic and were able to better support student learning needs while minimizing the learning gaps. Across the globe a huge percentage of schools and universities turned to digital learning last year and are continuing to use blended learning as an opportunity rather than a necessity borne of crisis.

Another research report released by Center for Public Research and Leadership at Columbia University in July 2021 proves that students learning is equally effective and engaged in an online environment as it is face to face in a school classroom. But the underlying assumption is that students receive access to excellent quality instructions and have support from parents or caregivers.

So, it is fair to say that online tutoring is here to stay and so let’s take a look at some of the key benefits that students, teachers and parents can get out of online learning.

1. It helps bridge the learning and skill gaps

Think about times when you missed a school day due to sickness or other personal reasons or in other scenarios when you had to deal with summer learning loss and fear entering the class with low confidence.

Online tutoring can help in bridging the gaps and allow students to review concepts from the past year, current school year and feel confident going into the class again. No matter whether you’re heading back into the classroom, starting a new topic in school, or trying to make up for a missed class, online tutoring can help you along the way.

2. Provides guidance with school homework and college assignments

Up until 2019, pre covid time, our education system primarily involved the following three key participants in the process of teaching and learning – the students, the teachers, and the teaching material. 

But this mix, suddenly after the pandemic, had a new and dominant  player – the parents. 

But were they ready for it?

Of course there is no one answer to this question but there were multiple research studies released last year which showcased how overwhelmed and helpless parents felt when it came to education and learning for their children. For working parents who have demanding job roles and are busy with meetings and work related deadlines, added pressure of helping children with their learning needs caused unneeded pressure and stress.

Home work helpers and online tutoring provided a lot of benefits to parents and families. Anything from short informational summaries to providing full step – by -step solutions to students helped the student get the correct guidance, gain confidence, look good in class but also at a personal level can help build a stronger parent-child relationship leading to overall happiness and mental satisfaction.

3. Leads to better retention and engagement

Although hard to believe, it’s now proven by multiple researchers that lessons conducted through video delivers high engagement with students leading to improved levels of information retention when compared to the traditional classroom lectures.

In April 2018, The Journal of Cognitive Research published a study showcasing the results of an experiment that was conducted on high school seniors on a complex subject like biology. The experiment included teaching the students through a variety of teaching styles including videos and lectures and post each teaching session the students were required to take a test on the information just taught in the class.

The results of the experiment showcased that video lessons proved to be the most helpful for students when measured in terms of content retention and engagement. 

Most of the online tutoring companies offer a variety of video learning resources which students can use for learning and gaining clarity of complex concepts. Online tutors are available 24/7 and students can subscribe to a video resource anytime.

4. Indulges students in an active learning process

Each student is different, their knowledge levels, style of learning etc are all different and it is very critical to understand these subtle differences and offer right guidance in early childhood to encourage brain development.

Education consultants who have worked on the topic of dealing with early childhood education and concepts of brain development and she believes that, a correct mentoring and quality instructions can help a child play a crucial role in first making the child feel safe and supported and then once the child is out of the operating defensive or out of fear mode he or she can think from a calm mind. By using a calm mind a child can then start to use the top part of the brain and indulge in an active learning process with the mentor, tutor or coach.

5. Boosts a child’s confidence and morale.

A few simple ways through online tutoring can help build the self esteem in a child are:

  1. Providing a platform and personalized setting for the child to feel heard and safe. In no way they should feel that taking after school help or guidance is any indication on their ability to learn or be as soon as their peers.
  2. Online tutoring platforms can help break the school curriculum into smaller milestones & goals based on their knowledge levels, make a plan to achieve those milestones and celebrate small and big achievements to give the experience of success rather than failure. 

Because in the end there is nothing more important or meaningful than bringing up emotionally balanced, healthy and happy minds.

6. Results in improved test scores for students

Test scores are not just mere numbers; they indicate a lot of what might be going right or wrong. Bad test scores could be an indication that your child is probably falling behind in class and needs guidance and mentoring.

All the above five things discussed in the article so far work together to deliver on the test reports. If your child has no learning gaps, she/he understands the homework questions and solutions in detail, has been learning actively and feeling emotionally supported then there is nothing that can come in between your child and the A+ grades.

7. Highlight a child’s strengths and weaknesses

Each child is unique and one must appreciate each child as an individual. This means that the way they learn and process information is also going to be slightly different. In school, teachers are limited by the time and curriculum and hence need to teach in a particular style and at a particular pace. School teachers can’t give the attention and focus to each student in class for the same reasons.

That’s where the after school online tutoring programs can be helpful. Not only will the child be able to get one-on-one attention but they can raise their hands without any hesitation. Online tutoring platforms like Heatherharries.com also provide learning style and knowledge assessments to check the skill level of a student which can highlight if your student needs additional support.

8. Help parents & teachers be better tuned on child’s progress

Based on an initial assessment tutors at HeatherHarries set goals with the student and tailor the pace of teaching based on the student’s needs. At each milestone, the teachers take time to tak to the parents informing them about their child’s progress. This way parents aren’t just better informed about the value of online tutoring for their child but they can take this information and communicate with the school teachers more confidently and help prove any resources needed to improve their child’s grades in class.

Therefore setting predefined goals before starting regular online tutoring and checking your progress from time to time can be instrumental in delivering impactful results.

9. Provides more time for extra curricula’s & personality development

Another benefit of online tutoring is that it helps you save time. First, the student is not struggling to fight the homework battles alone or spending time looking for free online unreliable resources. Second is that online classes can be attended within the comfort of your home. Not only does one escape the hassle of commuting but online tutoring also can be used by students as per their schedule and requirements. In fact, with the help of online tutoring platforms, teaching can happen anywhere and anytime. What a productive way of gathering knowledge on the go!

The coolest thing is that it is so flexible. It doesn’t matter if you are an early bird or a night owl. Just schedule a session when you are ready to learn.

Schedule a session at your convenience since e-learning allows you to manage your calendar. It can help you handle your workload while prioritizing your time. Opening up more space for extra curricular activities and play time which is essential for a healthy brain development.

10. Reduces the risk of dropping out from school or college

In the United States, the overall dropout rate for undergraduate college students is anywhere between 35-40%. A large portion of the dropouts comes from college freshmen dropping out before their sophomore year. Therefore it is important to understand things that can help avoid this from happening.

When all of the above things start to happen and a child starts to see the results of the investment then it’s not just about scoring good grades then the child starts to fall in love with the process of learning and hence the chances of dropping out from school or college reduce significantly.

11. Motivate you to learn more & advance your skill set

According to Madelyn Swift’s book, Getting it Right with Children, the basic psychological needs are to feel lovable and to feel capable. Once students start to feel that they are capable then automatically they are pushed to the state of being “self-motivated” to study and get good grades. This reduces the stress on parents that now they don’t have to constantly push their children to study and understand its importance.

Also young ones these days are tech-geeks. You might find the conventional way of studying a tad bit boring. But edtech has revived and renewed the way a student learns. The newer methods keep them motivated and intrigued to learn more. You will not want to run away from your studies. Instead, you sit to study with full zeal and curiosity.

12. Be the foundation for a successful career after college

Last on our list but one of the most important factors is to be able to live a happy life which means one needs to know how to own his/her life, make correct choices and respond to situations appropriately, and to avoid becoming victims by own lack of knowledge, skills or understanding.

After college, one tends to spend half of his/her life in an office or at work which means that a happy life is very closely related to a job and career. Assuming that a student makes it to a dream college or university and goes on to find employment in the field of their study then the chance of job satisfaction is higher. 

13. Not all teachers are born equal.

You don’t get to choose your classroom teacher, but with online tutition you can choose the teacher that really suits you, at Heatherharries.com we match you with the perfect teacher for your learning needs and then go one step further to find one that is a great match for your personality, this means that you will actively look forward to yoour lessons and this positive mindset will influence the way that you learn – positively.

Therefore investing in an excellent online tutoring platform that supports a child from the early childhood time and can deliver life long results in different forms at different stages in life. By now, we hope our readers are convinced that these 12 reasons are good enough to believe that online tutoring is the best.

Exams are back!

OFQUAL has announced the return of exams, how ready are your students.

Ofqual’s plans for GCSEs and A levels in 2022

1. Grades will be lower than in 2020, but higher than 2019

Ofqual announced today that grade distributions will be pitched at a midway point between pre-pandemic levels of 2019 and results in 2021.

They will be lower than both years when teacher assessment was used in 2020 and 2021 following the cancellation of exams, but higher than those for the 2019 cohort.

2. Ofqual aims to get back to pre-pandemic grading levels in two steps

Chief regulator Jo Saxton said Ofqual’s “aim is to return to a pre-pandemic grade profile”.

But she adds that “we don’t think it would be fair on 2022’s students to do it all in one go, given the disruption they have experienced”.

“We will aim, therefore, to return in broadly two steps.”

Dr Saxton says exam boards will use prior attainment data as a starting point to align subject standards, as in any other year, and that these will be based on an average of the 2019 and 2021 results for each subject.

3. No new top grade in 2023

Ofqual said there would be no new top grade at A level in 2023, with the aim instead to return grading distributions to pre-pandemic levels at this point.

Ofqual said there will be no grading scale changes in 2023. 

4. Exam mitigations for 2022

If exams do go ahead as planned, GCSE English literature, history, ancient history and geography students will have a choice of topics in their exam.

For other subjects where optionality is not available, students will have advance notice of exam topics to focus their revision by no later than 7 February 2022. In the event of further disruption to schooling caused by the pandemic, this information could be released earlier.

In GCSE maths, students will be provided with formulae sheets, and they will be able to use equation sheets in GCSE physics and combined science. 

The same adaptations will be available for GCSE maths and English language in the autumn series next year.

For students sitting the autumn series 2021, the grading standard will mirror the results profile of this summer. 

5. Teachers should think about 2019 results when predicting Ucas grades

Teachers are advised to use the 2019 grading profile when predicting Ucas university admissions grades this year – but to bump up borderline students to the higher grade.

“Teachers this term will be predicting the grades their students will receive in summer 2022 for use on their higher education applications,” Dr Saxton said.

6. Results days are back to normal

Results days will be held over two weeks as usual, with A-level results released on 18 August and GCSEs on 25 August. 

This year both set of exams results were announced in the space of three days in the same week.

Why do students find maths difficult?

If you do a poll of students about difficult subjects not surprisingly, mathematics comes out on top of the difficulty chart. So what is it about math that makes it difficult? Have you ever wondered?

The thing that makes math difficult for many students is that it takes patience and persistence. For many students, math is not something that comes intuitively or automatically – it takes plenty of effort. It is a subject that sometimes requires students to devote lots and lots of time and energy.

This means, for many, the problem has little to do with brainpower; it is mostly a matter of staying power. And since students don’t make their own timelines when it comes to “getting it,” they can run out of time as the teacher moves on to the next topic.

Math and Brain Types

But there is also an element of brain-style in the big picture, according to many scientists. There will always be opposing views on any topic, and the process of human learning is subject to ongoing debate, just like any other topic. But many theorists believe that people are wired with different math comprehension skills.

According to some brain science scholars, logical, left brain thinkers tend to understand things in sequential bits, while artistic, intuitive, right-brainers are more global. They take in a lot of information at one time and let it “sink in.” So left-brain dominant students may grasp concepts quickly while right-brain dominant students don’t. To the right brain dominant student, that time-lapse can make them feel confused and behind.

Math as a Cumulative Discipline

Math know-how is cumulative, which means it works much like a stack of building blocks. You have to gain understanding in one area before you can effectively go on to “build upon” another area. Our first mathematical building blocks are established in primary school when we learn rules for addition and multiplication, and those first concepts comprise our foundation. The first stumbling block for many students starts here as maths transforms from visual to theoretical and for many the actual understanding of the value of number is still not consolidated.

The next building blocks come in middle school when students first learn about formulas and operations. This information has to sink in and become “firm” before students can move on to enlarge this framework of knowledge.

The big problem starts to appear sometime between middle school and high school because students very often move on to a new grade or new subject before they’re really ready. Students who earn a “C” in middle school have absorbed and understood about half of what they should, but they move on anyway. They move on or are moved on, because

  1. They think a C is good enough.
  2. Parents don’t realize that moving on without a full understanding poses a big problem for high school and college.
  3. Teachers don’t have time and energy enough to ensure that every single student understands every single concept.

So students move to the next level with a really shaky foundation. The outcome of any shaky foundation is that there will be a serious limitation when it comes to building and real potential for complete failure at some point.

The lesson here? Any student who receives a C in a math class should review heavily to make sure to pick up concepts they’ll need later. In fact, it is smart to hire a tutor to help you review any time you find that you’ve struggled in a math class!

Making Math Less Difficult

We have established a few things when it comes to math and difficulty:

  • Math seems difficult because it takes time and energy.
  • Many people don’t experience sufficient time to “get” math lessons, and they fall behind as the teacher moves on.
  • Many move on to study more complex concepts with a shaky foundation.
  • We often end up with a weak structure that is doomed to collapse at some point.

Although this may sound like bad news, it is really good news. The fix is pretty easy if we’re patient enough!

No matter where you are in your maths you can excel if you backtrack far enough to reinforce your foundation. You must fill in the holes with a deep understanding of the basic concepts you encountered in middle school math.

  • If you’re in middle school right now, do not attempt to move on until you understand pre-algebra concepts fully. Get a tutor if necessary.
  • If you’re in high school and struggling with math, download a middle school math syllabus or hire a tutor. Make sure you understand every single concept and activity that is covered in middle grades.
  • If you’re in college, backtrack all the way to basic math and work forward. This won’t take as long as it sounds. You can work forward through years of math in a week or two.

No matter where you start and where you struggle, you must make sure you acknowledge any weak spots in your foundation and fill the holes with practice and understanding!