Over the past 8 days I have been publishing poems relating to the crises around Lockdown, the pandemic and the protests. Today’s poem was written pre lockdown- a reminder that crisis is not an exceptional event but a daily one as we constantly strive for a better world.
Revision sometimes can feel like a huge mountain to climb as you look at the piles of notes you’ve made throughout the year (hopefully!) and wonder where on earth to begin. Here are a few of my tips I have acquired from years of revising for GCSE and A level that hopefully may help you take the first steps to tackling that mountain.
- Download a free app to help you focus and not get distracted from the notifications pinging up or your own temptation to have a “little” scroll on your instagram feed! – One of my favourites which I recently discovered from a friend is Flora, an app which you can set the time you want to spend revising and will block any notifications from coming on your phone. You are also ‘growing’ a tree whilst you focus, if you break your target focus time the tree will die – you can even put money on it as extra motivation for you not to break focus! It’s even great for the environment because the money you loose goes to planting real trees around the world. This app is also great because you are creating a competition with yourself, the more you focus the more trees you will ‘grow’ and the further you can ‘travel’ around the world. Perhaps not the best of descriptions but download the app for free and you can discover for yourself what I mean.
2. Start with the subject/topic you are WORST at. Tackle the most difficult topics first by making summaries, drawing diagrams if it is a difficult concept or creating mind maps that you can plaster all over your wall. If you aren’t sure which topics to begin with do a whole bunch of practice questions then mark it yourself to see where there are areas you aren’t picking up the marks and make a list with a tally beside it – often you may see a pattern begin to form, the one with the highest tally is the topic to start with!
3. Snacks. You need fuel when revising so choose a snack of choice (like peanuts, fruit or these incredible Biscuiteers biscuits which my Mum Kindly gave me to wish me good luck (a great gift if you know someone going through exams in the near future)). Obviously, healthier snacks are better for your brain but lets be honest, when slaving away over your revision notes fruit and veg isn’t often the snack thats going to keep us going is it? Sometimes id even use food as a work and reward system – so I’d set maybe 40 minutes on my timer (refer to my first tip), then once I had completed it reward myself with a slice of cake or a biscuit – I didn’t do this all the time but sometimes when you really need a motivational boost this would really help. Similarly id do this with other things I love like revise for 5 hours then id allow myself to watch a film or go to the cinema. Try out whatever works for you and motivates you to keep going!
4. Keep your big WHY in your mind at all times.
Maybe create a vision board for you to look at to remind you exactly WHY you are putting yourself through this. Your ‘BIG WHY’ can be anything from a dream career, or to get into your dream university or simply to give you more options in your life. Collect images of everything you love or want from your future and stick them in a notebook or on a big piece of paper and figure out exactly what you want from your life – this doesn’t mean you have to have your whole life figured out! Who knows where we are going to be in 5, 10, 20 years time – we don’t know where life will take us or what we will want then, but we can figure out what we love now and have a few ideas of things we might want then. For me, I would gather pictures of travelling, of books (because I want to study English literature) of art, of films and writers, of inspiring quotes, of the sky (because it makes me feel calm), of clothes I wish I could afford, of places I would dream of living in etc. We are all different and have different things that drive us to do the things we do – do you want to be wealthy, do you want to lead a creative life, do you want to lead a stress-free life, do you want to own your own business, do you want to make a change? There are so many questions to ask yourself about what YOU want from life. And the answers to these questions will help you figure out your ‘why’ and this should help motivate you to keep going through your studies.
5. Test yourself frequently.
This may sound obvious but often this is the step we forget, we end up bogged down by all our revision notes that we don’t really know what we know and we don’t. What I did was revise a topic, make notes on a mind map, watch a ‘Snaprevise video’ then sit with a blank piece of paper and my spec and write out all that I can remember. Where there are areas I know I have forgotten i’d put a line or write in a different colour ‘something about….’ then go back to it at the end saying the pieces of information over and over in my head and rewriting it out. Its also a good idea to do past paper questions so that you can think like the examiner and feel more prepared, Snap revise is really good for this too because after going over a topic they will guide you through some potential past paper questions showing how they got to their answer and how to approach different kinds of questions. (I only used Snaprevise for Biology though, so I wouldn’t be able to say how useful it is for any other subject – I chose not to use it for English Lit because English is more of an ‘opinion forming’ subject, as in there is no definitive answer.
A few Subject Specific tips…
I studied English Literature, Biology and Art at A level, three very different subjects I know, and each required very different revision methods.
For English I found it useful watching adaptations for the plays, the more the better particularly as for our exam board we got marked for our wider reading, and also summary videos (the best ones I found were by Crash Course literature on YouTube – they also gave you critical opinions which were really useful). My second tip would be to talk to some of your classmates, talking to other people about the books you are studying means you can share ideas and gain some you hadn’t though of or be able to argue their opinion – a line of argument you could potentially use in your exam. My third and final tip would be to do as many past paper questions as you can, even if you just do essay plans, just so you can get to grips with quickly forming ideas and a line of argument.
For Biology, Its all about ensuring you really understand and remember the content and that you are able to know exactly what the examiner wants from the questions in your answers. For me, my best friend was Snaprevise as they went through example questions and really quickly summarised all the topics linking them to all the other topics at the same time. I also went to a SnapRevise course in London at Imperial Collage earlier this year for some extra revision – they were really long days but I do feel that it was real helpful although it wasn’t exam board specific like the videos so occasionally I did find myself thinking ‘Do I need to know this? I don’t think I’ve heard of that before’ so I did have to clarify a few things with my teacher after.
Art is mostly coursework so the biggest piece of advice I have is to keep on top of it – i’m a fairly fast worker so for me it was mostly about keeping up a certain standard of quality in my work but so many others struggled with the sheer volume of work to do.
So that is my top 5 tips (with a few extra!), I hope they were helpful, if you have any specific questions then feel free to leave them in the comments below 🙂
And if you are doing exams or are expecting results this summer – Good Luck!!!
Scrolling through Twitter earlier this month I saw this tweet from Stig Abell which Comedian Ricky Gervais replied to, and after having seen the video of the ‘nazi’ comments being shouted at to one of our MP’s, It really got me thinking about freedom of speech. Gervais, in this scenario, seems to be an advocate for this freedom whereas Abell does not. And this situation with this MP certainly does add to the argument of the latter, as it is awful that someone can be bombarded with such insults on live TV or on Social media.
This is a topic which is widely debated, freedom of speech means that we are free to make any comments we like without there being any sort of punishment if we go against the consensus; in short, it allows us to openly share our opinions.
So do we have Freedom of Speech now?
I don’t think we do. Yes, we have this freedom to a certain extent, however, increasingly there are campaigns for certain topics or phrases to be banned. Such as talking about ‘Hitler’ as Abell mentioned or racist words, parts of history that we can reflect on and learn from the past.
Should we have freedom of Speech?
I think we should. Being able to express our own individual opinions is part of it and weather we think someones opinion is right or wrong it is completely subjective and so we can either have the freedom or not have the freedom. Personally, I cannot think of a world worse than one in which we cannot express what we think.
In my opinion, banning words and phrases – even if they have negative connotations should never be banned as otherwise we are banning certain aspects of history, it is a respect which we should be trying to cultivate so that this kind of bullying does not occur. For example with the Hitler comments, there will always be other ways to insult somebody – if talking about Hitler and Nazi regime is banned then there will only be another person that they will be compared to. In other words, it should not be freedom of speech which is restricted but freedom of individuality which needs to be accepted.
One of the campaigns I have seen recently is to get phrases like ‘Bringing home the bacon’ banned – a vegan perspective that meat should not be used in our language like this. But these kinds of phrases have been used for such a long time, they should not be simply banned with people needing to consciously remember which common phrases are not allowed to be used anymore. And this particular phrase is not hurting anybody. To me, when I hear of these kinds of campaigns, It makes me think of ‘Newspeak’ in Orwell’s ‘Nineteen Eighty-four’ which was used by ‘the party’ to constrict peoples thoughts by making it impossible for people to have the words to articulate their thoughts and feelings.
By banning parts of our language we are essentially restricting it, yes, many phrases are offensive to people – no matter who you are, we all often experience bullying, whether that is for your race, your gender, your hair colour or anything else, unless we are all identical bullying is likely to always exist – bullies pick the part of you that makes you unique and different and spin that quality on its head. Bullying is difficult to prevent, it has always been around and restricting our language will only make it worse.
People come up with new phrases all the time to express something they want to say, sometimes it’s a different meaning of a word, sometimes it’s a new word entirely – expanding language is an amazing thing, if Shakespeare never made up all those new words and phrases, imagine how different our world would be now, Restricting language is restricting our freedom.
What do you think? Should we have freedom of speech? Do you feel as though you have freedom of speech? Are the issues we are talking about with freedom of speech actually about bullying in general?
It’s April and teachers are counting down the days till your first exam currently it’s standing at 4 weeks to go. Our school even provides us with an Easter break revision goal of 50 hours… ahhhh help!
Here are a couple of ways that I motivate myself to revise and how I do it but there are many days I don’t stick to schedule- let’s face it revision is boring and a chore.
Before I revise I always have the vision of why I have to do this revision. For me it’s to have the grades to be able to do my dream job of becoming a vet, so for you it could be a career plan your thinking of or maybe if you haven’t got a job in mind, the goal is just to not close the gates on any opportunities in your future.
The other thing I keep in mind is the long summer after!y friends and I have made sure to fill the summer with as many plans as possible and we always talk about how amazing it will be.
I also keep a study schedule of what I’m going to study each day; I keep this specific so I know exactly what I need to do. For example; say I was studying Romeo and Juliet I would also write down ‘make mindmaps of the characters’. This helps me keep motivated because it’s really satisfying ticking all the sessions off when you’ve done them and it means I know what I have to do in advance.
Many people say new stationary helps them to stay motivated which works for a lot of people but for me it doesn’t work that well a few highlighters and paper are all I actually need to use to revise.
I hope these tips help you stay motivated to revise for the dreaded exam season, if you have any other tips I would love to hear them! Just leave a comment below
Whilst in New York it would have been criminal not to do a little bit of shopping as it is near christmas after all…
The first place I was really looking forward to shopping was Bath and Body works, and it did not disappoint. There was an overwhelming number of scents but in the end i went for:
The ‘winter’ candle which smells exactly like the winter candle from the white company (but a hell of a lot cheaper) which basically has ints of pine, orange and a few spices- smells like christmas to me.
The ‘autumn sky’ candle, which is more musky than than the other candles although very fresh at the same time. It says it has fragrance notes of ‘Crisp Autumn Air, Chilled Mandarin,Crushed Thyme, Amberwood and Black Pepper’.
I also got a few room sprays and hand gels for friends in christmassy scents. If you spent $30 the you also got a free goodie bag worth over $80 so I gave that as a gift to my sister haha. At the moment I am really impressed with the candles as they burn really well and still smell absolutely divine. My friend had got me a candle from there as well called ‘leaves’ which also smells amazing.
Also on the theme of beauty, I went to Sephora (another shop we don’t have in the UK). I got a first aid beauty gift set which had 2 pots go their ultra repair moisturiser (one scented with vanilla and one not) my skin is quite sensitive so i don’t usually opt for the scented products but this set was practically the same price as it was for one pot so it was a no-brainer to get this set which also included 2 lip balms (one in clear and one with a rosy tint). I have tried the lip balms out and they are super moisturising and last for about 8 hours!
On to a bit of Fashion; I then went to gap, which is so much better than the Gap in England and it really surprised me that I found this gorgeous cozy sweater. Its incredibly soft with a roll neck- my perfect jumper!
I also got a blue shirt from Abercrombie and Fitch, it feels like amazing quality and is really comfortable to wear. My favourite part is the gold A and F on the collar as it adds somethings little different to it.
Hello October, i love autumn; when the leaves begin to fall, the time when you can cozy up in the thickest jumpers, light the spicy candles and go on crisp walks.
(images from google)
Because of my love for the season i thought i would share some of my favourites fro last month and generally what I’ve been loving recently.
the first has to be cozy pyjama bottoms, they look adorable with little foxes and are so comfortable- i pretty much wear them as joggers around the house!
although this actually came out at the beginning of October this year, i still thought id give it a mention; Estée Lalonde’s Bloom book. Its so interesting I love her style of writing and her personality.
Bath and body works ‘leaves candle’, i only managed to get my hands on this when my friend very kindly got it for me from her trip to America earlier this year. It smells as amazing as everyone says; the perfect sweet to spice combination and truly is the scent that makes you think of autumn. the packaging is beautiful as well with its gold leaf lid.
Music wise, i am quite into alternative usually. I have got 5 songs i really love at the moment, constantly listening to them on repeat; Tom odell with true colours, Emelie Sandé with hurts- a really powerful song, James arthurs new song- don’t let go and the new version of ‘where is the love?’- i really love the message of the song.
I hope you have a great October- soon to be halloween! have you got any plans or costume ideas?