Study smarter – don’t get lost, use a mind map!

No matter what course you’re studying, whether it is Geography or English, you can find the sheer amount of new information overwhelming at times – this is where mind maps can help. That old adage stands – sometimes, you can’t see the wood for the trees.

Mind maps are a perfect way to draw out all the new concepts so that you can see the shape of a topic and how its various parts interlink. It’s also amazing for memory recall and can prove invaluable if you have examinations that determine your final course results.

What’s a mind map?

Mind map

A mind map is a kind of spider diagram that you use to draw out a concept and all its various aspects. Make it as colourful as you can to help it stick in your memory. You can even add pictures if they fit with the ideas (now your diagram is a rich picture), which will make it even easier to remember as the human brain recalls images more readily than words.

The amazing thing about mind maps is that they can help you to see interconnections between different theories or topics that you wouldn’t have found otherwise. Mind maps offer a birds-eye-view of what you are studying allowing our brains, which are very good pattern-recognition machines, to find new links and relationships. And, you can even find many apps and programs free online, which allow you to map out your subject without masses of paper spread over your desk.

See how much further you can go with the help of a mind map.

Study smarter – speed reading

Reading is something we learn as a child. Difficult to begin with, but you soon learn to follow along each line, understanding each word, each sentence, each paragraph until you have built up an understanding of the whole story.

But that isn’t always the most efficient way to read academic texts. You won’t be able to memorise each set textbook for your exam, so you have to find a way to condense that knowledge into something you hold in your mind.

Don’t believe any of those myths about reading, like you have to laboriously read every word; the quicker you read the less you understand; don’t skip sections or read out of sequence; and you only need to read something once. Science has shown these all to be false. So, break free of all those misconceptions and increase the speed and efficiency of your reading, stop feeling like you are overwhelmed by the texts. And look out for the many tools and apps that you can use to test your reading speed and make a game of getting even faster.

If you pick up any textbook or course booklet, you will see that a lot has been done to make it easier to use. You have unit and chapter headings and many subheadings that lead you through the various topics, as well as bold and highlighted words.

Here are some tips for easily assimilating your course text, so that you can make the most of your reading:

  1. Skim the surface before you dive in – get an idea of the shape of the course by reading the index pages and then flicking through the whole book, page by page, so that you see how it all fits together. This will act as a map so that you can make a picture of all that you are learning to piece the concepts into a cohesive whole.
  2. Questions aid comprehension – note down any questions that are raised by the text. They will indicate areas that you might need to investigate further and also help to make the material more memorable.
  3. Look for bold or highlighted text – these indicate the key concepts you will be required to recognise and know for examination or assessments.
  4. Test yourself – after reading a section, ask yourself what it was about. Try to recall the important ideas and how they fit into the wider framework of the course.
  5. Refresh and review – reread chapter introductions and summaries from time to time, to refresh the content you’ve learned and help it to stay in your memory.

Totum student discount card


Studying with us here at Absorb Online Learning doesn’t just further your knowledge and opportunities –it also allows you to take advantage of several benefits. We all know that students at university or college can take advantage of a number of student discounts – so why not those learning from home? Replacing the old NUS Extra card comes the new TOTUM PRO card, a way for our online students to enjoy the 100’s of discounts in the UK alone through our online learning courses. Read on for how you can sign up for this card, and the many savings it will bring you.

With all the great discounts you’ve come to love, the new TOTUM card gives you the same savings, but with new additional features and functionality all rolled into the TOTUM app. The pair allow you to access more local deals, exciting financial features and act as a proof of ID. If you have an NUS card this will still be valid for all of its old features, to gain the full benefit of these new updates you’ll have to sign up for the new card as soon as your old one expires. To qualify for the TOTUM card, however, you will have to be a student completing a course that leads to an Ofqual regulated qualification. Here at Absorb Online Learning, we only run online Ofqual courses that validate you for the TOTUM Card – GCSEs and A-Levels.


Much like the old application process for the NUS card, applying for TOTUM is simple.

Following your payment (£14.99 for 1 year, £22 for 2 years), your card will be delivered within 7 working days, and you can start saving with over 200 UK discounts.


The TOTUM Pro card offers a huge range of discounts from 10% off Macs and ASOS to 15% off Dell and 20% off EE phone contracts – all designed to make studying that little bit easier. The card is £14.99 for 1 year but TOTUM do have an amazing offer on at the moment. TOTUM PRO Price Promotion – members can buy a two-year membership card and TOTUM will chuck in an extra year FOR FREE. That means that you can buy a TOTUM PRO 3-year membership for just £24.99, that’s a saving of a tenner over RRP. There are no voucher codes involved, simply sign-in as usual and the new price is reflected on the website.

Obviously with the current pandemic, where people are being told to stay at home, TOTUM PRO members have very different needs and wants. TOTUM are quickly responding to this change in circumstances and are onboarding new offers for products and services that use home delivery or the internet. The essentials category which includes lots of the offers that members are currently using – whether that’s stocking up on home delivered beer at Beer52 or Flavourly, getting their SMOL washing capsules delivered direct to their door, 15% off Samsung tech or getting their 10% discount on a Co-op essentials shopping trip. There are still lots of great savings to be had with a TOTUM PRO membership.Some of the discount partners:

•Beauty – Look Fantastic, Braun, Superdrug, Bulldog Skincare •Eating Out – Pizza Express, Café Rouge, Las Iguanas, Barburrito •Entertainment – Alton Towers, Legoland, Go Ape, Sealife •Fashion – Asos, Forever 21, Blue INC, Fat Face •Finance – Financial Times, The Economist •Health and Fitness – The Gym, Vision Express, Myprotein, Go Nutrition •Music and Technology – Apple, Microsoft, Amazon Prime •Supermarkets – Bunches, Co-op •Travel – Railcards, Airparks, Megabus, RED Driving School •Uni Essentials – Firebox, WH Smith, UniBulkBuy, Stuff4Students

When you apply for a TOTUM card, you are also entitled to a free International Student Identity Card for 1-year. The ISIC allows you to take your savings abroad, as it is the only internationally accepted proof of a certified student status. With the ISIC, you can travel to over 130 countries and take advantage of over 42,000 international discounts, as well as a number of UK discounts. There is also the option to expand your TOTUM card by signing up to the Gourmet Society. This offers you 2-for-1 meals or up to 50% discounts at a number of leading restaurants, such as Bella Italia, La Tasca and Strada – plus thousands of local deals. For more on the courses we offer here at Absorb Online Learning, take a look at our online learning courses page here. If you have a question and would like to speak to one of our team, head over to our contact page.

Online GCSE maths or IGCSE Maths

learning GCSE Maths online
We make studying Online GCSE maths easy

If you have been browsing through our website, you may have noticed that we mention both GCSE AND IGCSE.

So, we have two maths courses at GCSE level. Why?

Well, first of all, let’s clear up something. Both the GCSE and IGCSE Qualifications that you can take with Absorb Online Learning are treated in the exact same way by all Universities, colleges and employers across the UK.

So why do we have two types of Online GCSE Course?

The courses are virtually identical with some minor exceptions. These are:

  • GCSE Maths is examined by 3 papers
  • IGCSE Maths is examined by 2 papers
  • GCSE Maths has a non-calculator paper (you need to perform maths questions without a calculator ie. long-division.)
  • IGCSE Maths allows the use of a calculator in both papers.
  • GCSE Maths is examined in November and May/June
  • IGCSE Maths is examined in January and May/June
  • IGCSE Maths has a small section on calculus (It’s easy)

So, you can choose which course suits your needs best. In most cases this will be based on if you are wanting to sit the maths exam in November or January. With our online courses, you are the one who gets to decide what works best for you.

If you are not sure about which of our Maths Courses to take, you can enroll on one and get the second course for only an additional £29. Talk to us if you want to do that.

What to do if you don’t get the GCSE grades you need

GCSE Grades Too Low?

For most sixth forms or Further Education colleges you will need specific grades to be accepted on the courses you applied for.

If you just miss out on a grade, you can speak to the sixth form or Further Education college to see if they will still accept you with the lower grades, or they may offer you a place but on a different subject or course.

What to do if you just miss out on a grade

It’s always best to collect your own GCSE results from your school on the day, as that’s when teachers will be around to give you advice if you don’t get your desired results.

If you have just missed out on a grade, or you don’t think the grade you achieved reflects your ability, you can ask for your paper to be remarked.

Your school will be able to help you arrange this, but you will have to pay a fee which is only reimbursed if examiners change your grade.


If you have failed and you’re worried that you’ve really blown it, don’t worry, there is a second chance.

Retakes for Maths are available in November. For English and all Science IGCSEs you can take the exam in January. Sadly you will have to wait until next June if you have to resit other subjects.

Apply to another Further Education college or sixth form

If the college you had in mind won’t accept your lower grades, it’s worth speaking to other colleges offering the same or similar courses and find out what their entry requirements are.

They may accept the grades you’ve got and offer you an opportunity to re-sit and improve your English and maths grades.

If I don’t get into sixth form or college, what else can I do?


Apprenticeships offer an opportunity to gain paid employment and work experience whilst studying for a qualification. There are many schemes on offer and you may find that practical hands-on learning suits you. There is also the added benefit of having a money in your pocket each month.

There are a wealth of opportunities to explore, and some schemes will offer a starting salary of £14,000.


If you don’t have the skills for an apprenticeship, that’s not an issue.

Traineeships are available to anyone aged 16 to 24 and provide the essential work preparation training that is necessary to secure an apprenticeship or employment in the future.

Private Candidate

You don’t need to attend school or college to sit exams. You can enter at exam centres as a private candidate. If you are following this route, and many thousands do every year, then it is best to follow a structured programme of study with tutorial support.

This is something provided here at Absorb.

You can see our courses for GCSE at:

GCSE Courses

And our A levels at:

A Level Courses