We all know how it feels. We’re sitting in a lesson. We’re following what the teacher is saying. But there’s something that we just can’t get our head around. We try to reread what we’ve written in our notes. We think it through and… blank. It’s just not making sense. By the time we focus back on the lesson, the class has moved on.

This is a very common problem, and it’s hard to avoid in a typical classroom setting.                                                       

All of us learn at different speeds and think in different ways. Something that might seem as clear as a bottle of Evian to one person might look as muddy as a puddle of rainwater to someone else. In IGCSEs, where each student studies very different subjects, it’s inevitable that we’ll be faster at picking up some subjects than others.                   

So what can we do about this problem? How can we find the missing pieces?


Keep Track of the Gaps                                                          

The first step to filling in knowledge gaps in a subject is to keep track of each gap. Each time you realise that you’re not quite understanding something or making it stick, make sure you at least remember that it exists. Trust us, we know it’s tempting to just block the difficult things from your memory, but the truth is, you’re only making things worse by doing that.                             

To keep track of the gaps you can:                                                                                    

  • Colour-code your notes and highlight anything you don’t understand.                   
  • Keep a checklist of all these things, and make sure this is accessible and visible!
  • Even better, add them straight to a To-Do list of ‘things I’m going to learn’.
  • Stop thinking of the gaps as things you don’t understand. Instead, think of them as things you’re going to understand!


How to Use Dead Time in Your IGCSEs

Want even more top IGCSE tips? Click here to download our FREE IGCSE Study Skills guide!



Take Time to Fill in the Knowledge                                                                            

Often even when an entire topic feels impossible, there are actually just a few specific things that you don’t understand. As soon as you understand those missing gaps, a lot of it will click! This is especially true in subjects like Maths, where each step of the process builds on previous understanding. The only way to make sure everything is fully understood is to take time to go through the subject outside of the lessons.                            

  • Get a tutor who can help support your studies.
  • Ask a friend or a teacher to explain it to you.
  • Work on the problem by yourself with the textbook (and some chocolate) next to you.


Make sure you set aside extra time as part of your regular schedule so you know that you are always staying on top of the work. Treat each gap in your knowledge as an individual problem and fix them one by one, starting with the simplest thing first. If you have that checklist, go through it and tick it off as you go.