My Revision Tips

Tried and tested revision techniques and advice for high school students

Edexcel combined science

Pearson and CGP are the only available revision guides for 9-1 Combined science. Click on the pictures to go directly to Amazon and buy them. Not sure which one to buy? Read my full reviews below about Pearson or CGP’s revision guides, or jump straight to the bottom for my final comments.

All the front covers are clickable and will take you to Amazon website to buy them

Pearson’s revision guides


What I like:

  • Written by the company that’s writing the actual final exam
  • Tells you what final exam paper the content on that page will be examined in
  • Free online version of the guide so you can use the guide on your computer, phone or tablet.
  • Full of examiners’ tips in yellow boxes on every page
  • Clearly sign-posted ‘Learn it’ equations for those not given to you in the exam
  • Self-evaluation at the top of each page (like what I mentioned in the ‘essential specification use‘ revision techniques
  • Worked examples of real exam questions – this is where the revision guide really shines
  • Exam questions at the bottom of every page and answers at the back of the revision guide
  • Pages well laid out and do not feel ‘cluttered’
  • Synoptic links – comments like ‘you can revise more about this on page xxx
  • Command word definition. For example, what does ‘Explain’ mean in the exam question

What I don’t like:

  • No specification links, although as the exam board writing the exams, I’d be confident it”s all in there
  • Pearson’s own 12-point question difficulty. Logic would have made it out of 9 like the government have set for every GCSE
  • Low use of colour for key words, which is very important especially if you’re just trying to remember the absolute basics.

Revision workbooks:

Each page from the revision guide, has a dedicated set of past exam questions (mark scheme at the back). It saves you trawling through past papers, trying to find relevant content. The other huge bonus of Pearson’s workbooks, is that for the new specification points that haven’t been in the old Science GCSE courses before, they have sample questions – gold dust! They continue to use their 12-point difficulty scale; at least they’re consistent!

CGP’s revision guides


What I like:

  • Free online version of the guide so you can use the guide on your computer, phone or tablet.
  • Layout of each page is easy to follow  in a logical and systematic way
  • Key words are underlined and in a different colour, and different colours used on different parts of the page making it easy to remember the information.
  • Key information is put in its own colourful box
  • Lots of images – look at the mnemonics page for why this is important
  • Worked examples of equations and units to support the maths element of the course
  • Every page has a question at the bottom for you to test your knowledge and understanding
  • Dedicated revision questions at the end of sections that help you decide if you need to spend more time looking over the content.
  • References to other content
  • (page numbers given), making it easier to help revise for those longer answer questions and make synoptic links
  • Core practical methods (and what should happen) are clearly explained with a diagram of the equipment you should have completed in class.

What I don’t like:

  • Is not written by the company writing the actual final exams
  • No specification links – you don’t know what specification points are being covered on that page and relying that the publisher hasn’t missed something
  • Some pages feel a little bit cramped, especially for some of the more complex content
  • Doesn’t have examiner’s comments (often called ‘top tips’ or ‘exam technique’), which let you know the common mistakes or misconceptions that pupils write in the final exams.
  • No information about what grade the content is at (or if it’s only covered in the higher tier).

CGP workbooks:

Lots of past exam questions, although don’t forget to buy the mark scheme book (a bit cheeky I think not to include them!). Questions have a grade (9-1) on them so you know the level of question you’re working at.

CGP textbooks:

CGP have also just released their textbooks, and I’d really recommend buying this just as a day-to-day book to use. It’s only A5 and just shy of an inch thick. It’s a lot more wordy than their revision guides, but it removes all the negative points that I’ve written above. I don’t think it’s useful as a dedicated revision guide, but excellent to use to support your learning and go into a good amount of detail. It’s well worth the money.

Final comments

Both revision guides are really good and you won’t go far wrong as long as you use one of them in conjunction with your exercise book. Pupils generally find the CGP ones easier to use and prefer them, however, if you are planning on doing the higher tier paper, I’d buy the Pearson one, and if you’re doing foundation then I’d buy the CGP one. I’d also invest in the Pearson workbooks over the CGP ones. Click on the front covers below to take you directly to Amazon and buy them.

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