10 REVISION TIPS from an A level student

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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.

  1. 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!!!

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UCAS: What I wish I had known

Advice

The UCAS deadline was last Tuesday, and a week on from that deadline I thought I would share my journey applying to university – from choosing the course, choosing the uni’s, the revision and other things to look out for, but before I begin the biggest thing I wish I had known before applying is to look around universities much sooner. I started looking at the end of year 12 but doing this made me realise that perhaps the course wasn’t for me and I had to frantically look around uni’s in the autumn. I would really recommend going to an open day, you really get to sense the ‘vibe’ of the place and see if you could see yourself there. Having in mind where you want to go to university well in advance gives you motivation in your studies too, particularly if you want to do a competitive course or get into a prestigious university. I know some people who had in mind where they wanted to go from year 10, and universities really encourage you visiting from this year too as you can get involved with events they hold or apply to a summer school (which may help make the uni offer you a place).

The courses I have applied for is English Literature and English with politics, the latter is probably my preferred choice as it gives me the flexibility to follow two of my passions but I could only find one university which offered it (Surrey). The other universities I have applied for are…

  • Kings Collage, University of London (I really loved the course and their involvement with The Globe as Shakespeare is the module I love most)
  • Royal Holloway, University of London (Like Surrey, it is just half an hour from London which is close to all the galleries, theatres and buzz – the best of both worlds)
  • Oxford Brookes University (in the heart of a university city, it is easy for me to get home or visit London, the entry requirements are also based on UCAS tariff so there is not as much pressure on me to get a high grade in Biology!)
  • University of Birmingham (I absolutely love the course and they are involved with the RSC, however I have never been to Birmingham and it is much further away)

Initially, in year 12, I aspired to go to the RVC and study Veterinary medicine, however I realised that English was the subject I most loved and enjoyed and that biology and chemistry were subjects that although I enjoyed were not ones I was naturally gifted in.

I don’t know where I will go after (hopefully) completing my degree as there is no obvious route so I’m just going to see where life takes me and continue to do what I love.

My top 5 tips for choosing the right uni:

  • Start looking around as soon as possible
  • go to a summer school
  • Check out the area, this is where you are going to be spending 3 or more years of your life.
  • check the ‘value for money’, check the costs compared to what you are going to get out of your course (for example; whether they offer placements, the number of teaching hours etc)
  • Make sure the course is right for you.

My top 5 tips if you can’t decide what to study:

  • Make an inspiration board / jot down all your passions, interests, what you would like to learn more about, where you want to be in the future, who you want to be etc. (there is a great post about this on lifemoreectrodinary.com)
  • try out MOOC’S and other online courses relating to some areas of interest (future learn is really good or there are a few courses available on the open university website)
  • Try work experience – If there are a couple of career paths you are interested in, try them out and see which one you enjoy most.
  • Talk to friends and family to see if they can give you any ideas about what they can see you doing in the future.
  • Look around universities and talk to subject lecturers, they may enthuse you to want to do a particular course or dissuade you from doing it.

Different universities are looking for different things from you to offer you a place; some are all about the grades only, some are more than happy to except you if you show a real enthusiasm, passion and commitment to your chosen field of study – if the universities you are looking at look for the later then I would recommend really reading around your subject – reading magazines / newspapers, listening to podcasts, watching documentaries, visiting museums, watching plays etc. These are all things you can include in your personal statement to impress your chosen universities.

If you are reading this and thinking about going to uni, feel free to ask about the application process and If you would like to keep updated with more things Uni and study related please sign up to my email list.

Thanks so much for reading :))

A Chat about Resolutions…

Thoughts

To make or not to make resolutions, that is the question!

I believe that it is good to set goals and why not make new ones each year? You can set out your calendar for the new year and plan how you are going to achieve the goals you want to accomplish and how you can better yourself. I don’t, however, believe in the saying New Year, New You. I used to because I used to think it was useful to think of each year like turning over a new leaf, a fresh start but now I have realised that you are the same you – just like when your grandma asked you how it felt to be a new age, there was no immediate difference, no change but as the year began to go on and you got tasked with new responsibilities you began to feel older. That is how I think of the New Year, setting goals and plans in place to better myself because I am still ‘me’ even though the year has changed. I also believe reflection of the past year is good, the end of a year makes sense to use as a way to judge your own personal success on how much you have worked on being the ‘you’ you want to become.

So what are my ‘resolutions’?

  • To learn how to cook (I kinda know the basics but if I am going to university next year, I think I need to live on more than tomato pasta or beans on toast alone)
  • To be more consistent with my blogging – I love that I have got the opportunity to post my opinions on this platform and I would love to make the time to fit writing into my schedule.
  • To revise! I have got A levels this year and I really would love to get the best grades I can to get into the university of my choice.

As a student, and no ‘real’ career plan I’m really just basing my goals on my studies and doing what I love and hoping that that might bring me to where I want to be. I also have my yearly ‘reading goals’ to read more books outside of my lessons.

My top tips when making your goals / resolutions (whatever we are calling them!)

  1. Make a plan of how you are going to stick to it. If you are thinking of giving up smoking, begin by saying, ‘I’ll have 1 cigarette a day for a week’ then the week after that by saying, ‘i’ll have one every other day’, then ‘one a week’ etc. If you make a plan you are more likely to achieve your goal.
  2. Be realistic about what you can achieve in that year – if you have never really read for pleasure before and set yourself the goal of reading 20 books you are unlikely to achieve it (but set long term, so called ‘unrealistic’, plans too as Walt Disney once said, ‘If your dreams don’t scare you, they are not big enough!’)
  3. Reward yourself. Every time you reach a milestone, no matter how small, be proud of yourself and give yourself a reward – perhaps your favourite food, or a break somewhere.

I asked some friends and family about what they thought about resolutions…

They consensus was that it is stupid to think that that a new year is the only time that you can change things in your life, if you can’t achieve them any other time of the year why will you now? Many feel fed up of making resolutions only to give them all up mid January.

Thank you so much for reading, I hope you have an amazing new year and that you achieve all your goals! Spend New Year’s Eve happy about what you have achieved thus far, be proud of yourself!

See you for my 2018 review and what I am looking forward to next year up at midnight tonight!

 

10 Gift Ideas For Any Occasion

Beauty, Fashion, Favourites

With Christmas just around the corner you’re probably thinking about what to get for the special people in your life. It can be difficult buying presents for people for any occasion particularly if you are under a tight budget. Here are a couple of my favourite unique finds…

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For the Tavel lover – Scratch Map

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They can scratch off the places they’ve been on the map and plan trips they hope to go to. The idea is that they will try to scratch off as many places as they can. I have one of these my self and I love it.

If they are a student there are loads of gap year and bucket list books by lonely planet that you can get on amazon or any good book store.

For the book worm – Book cover locket

I think these are so unique, they do a variety of book covers so you could find their favourite classic novel to put on to the locket.

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For the film lover – popcorn machine and bags

I mean it is their own cinema at home!

or for the person who wants to get into movies… a scratch off 100 bucket list movies poster 

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(photo from amazons website linked above) 

For the music lover – (if they have vinyls) a vinyl frame, new earphones or portable speaker. For the person who I into hearing all the classics there is also a scratch off 100 albums bucket list poster.

For anyone – books

I don’t think anyone can go wrong with a book, it can be about anything they are interested in from gardening to traveling. There are loads of thoughtful books on Urban outfitters if you need some ideas.

 For the fashion aficionado – The new fashion rules by Victoria Magrath

I have followed Victoria’s blog for a long time now and she has the most amazing style and knowledge of fashion – definitely something a fashion lover would love to delve into.

For the Make up addict – Makeup storage or a set from their favourite brand. ASOS do some great ones by a variety of brands or if you want to go more upmarket SpaceNK do some beautiful sets as well from bath and body to lipstick and eyeshadows.

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For the foodie – something for the kitchen or you can get books of the best places to eat in different cities.

For the sentimental – A photo book

I recommend Snapfish as I have used them before – the quality is really good and they are the cheapest company I can find that do them. I did one for my Dad documenting all the places we had travelled to and adventures we had been on. You can customise the pages yourself, adding text, changing the layout of the pictures and the background.

For anyone – Candles or bath things

Everyone likes gifts that they can use to relax. My favourite bath oils are from Aromatherapy – they can be a bit pricy but smell amazing.

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I hope this little guide helps! Do you have any go to or unique gift ideas that you love? Tell me in the comments 🙂

Thank you so much for reading!

What To Wear In The Colder Days Leading Up To Spring

Fashion

Spring is just around the corner which means injecting more colour into your wardrobe and maybe a few more florals however its still a little too chilly to dump the coats and embrace spring and the warmer weather it brings.

With that in mind, here a few items and outfits I am wearing in the transition from winter to spring, to still feel like spring is coming whilst not being absolutely freezing…

Denim jackets. These are perfect in the transition because you’ve still got an extra layer to keep warm but it’s more lightweight and not as bulky as a winter coat. It can also be worn with pretty spring dresses and skirts.

Light-weight Jackets. This is a military style jacket from Zara but there are many other forms of lightweight jackets such as longline blazers and trench coats.

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Adding pops of colour. It can be a colourful accessory, bright jumper or some quirky jeans… the choice is up to you.

Trousers. The statement trouser has been really popular in the last few months and I imagine it will stay that way into spring. They are great for spring because they are a little more lightweight and come in so many styles and colours.

Sweatshirts. Maybe dump off the chunky winter knits and opt for something lighter. This spacey one is from H&M and I love it.

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Thanks so much for reading 🙂 What do you like to wear in the transition from winter to spring? xxx

Has Feminism Gone Too Far

Thoughts

I am a feminist. I believe that both sexes should be treated equally and that all people should feel empowered by their peers.

I don’t think that women are better than men, I think that we are all individuals with different strengths and weaknesses no matter what our gender or sex is. And that is the great thing about humans; our variation, how each person is unique, not identical to any other person. I think it would be crazy to make such a statement whether it be ‘men are better than women’ or ‘women are better than men’ or making comparisons between any group of people because we are all completely different in some way or another to other people. Not all women are the same, some are interested in science, some are sporty, some are arty. Each individual is unique. Not all men are the same. Some like sport, some don’t, some are academic, some aren’t. It would be crazy to make such a statement because we would then be labelling a particular group of people based on one aspect of who they are. Each person is unique.

Which is why I titled this post ‘has feminism gone too far’ – are some trying to turn it less into equality for all and more into women are more powerful? Yes I think that we should try and empower other women because women have been seen to be the weaker sex throughout history. I walked into Waterstones the other day and saw that they had done a table of children’s books that are all about incredible female protagonists and showing children that women can be strong and can do anything. And I thought that this is how the stereotype of women will be eradicated, the stereotype is all down to society and that is difficult to change when we have all had these stereotypes drilled into us in our childhood with phrases like ‘run like a girl’ ‘cry like a girl’ ‘ladylike’ etc.  But now I wonder if this ideal had gone far, forgetting about equality altogether.

People will always try and find something to comment on about someone else, as humans we seem to always be comparing, always judging. Pointing out something different about a particular group of people; weather that be sex, skin colour, body size, religion or even hair colour.

Have other issues gone too far? For example racism, Now white people are almost discriminated against with phrases like ‘such a white girl’ or ‘thats so white’. Whilst campaigning for equality for races the other side has been discriminated against. But its different all over the world, for many parts of America there is still significant segregation whilst in others it’s going the other way.

Overall, in an ideal world we would all empower each other and stop judging and comparing others so much. We are all unique and individual so cannot label people in the way we are beginning too. In an ideal world we would all respect the fact that we are all individual and unique. In an ideal world our biology wouldn’t change how others treat us.

Can we create this ideal world?

Why it is important to believe in yourself

Advice

Believing in yourself is so important and I never really realised that until recently when I realised that my self doubt was getting in the way of achieving my goals and aspirations. Being your biggest critic can be a good thing when you want to improve yourself however it can make you doubt yourself and discourage you away from your ambitions. I realised I was beginning to let a fear of failure get in the way of moving forward.
Its strange because my parents would often tell me how confident and presumptuous I would be as a child, that I would say I could do everything – hurdles? Yep I could do that. Learn the piano? Easy.
Recently its been the complete opposite.
So after this epiphany, I am going to start believing in myself again. My own self doubt can no longer be the wall between me and my goals.

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Self belief is the most important thing ‘If you don’t believe in yourself no one else is going to believe in you’. There is not a single person who has succeeded in their aspirations who haven’t believed in themselves. With each set back it is their self belief that brings them over that hurdle and get back up again. Don’t believe me? Here are a handful of celebrities stories: (this is all information I found online, in other posts and in interviews)

Ed Sheeran is one example. He wasn’t the singer he is now when he was younger but he believed he could do better and had the passion for music that he became the artist he is today. He was also homeless for a while and was busking on the street but continued to believe that one day his aspirations and dreams would be a reality.

I recently watched an interview with Taron Egerton about how if he hadn’t believed in himself he wouldn’t be an actor. He didn’t get into drama school the first time round but this didn’t knock him back, he still believed he could be an actor and tried out the second year. And GUESS WHAT? He got in. His film “Eddie the eagle” also seems to focus on the topic of believing in yourself and proving everyone wrong. There are many other films, too, that focus ambiguously on self belief such as La La Land and Bridget Jones to name a few.

More Celebrities who believed in themselves and never gave up including J K Rowling and Emily Blunt:

https://www.themuse.com/advice/9-famous-people-who-will-inspire-you-to-never-give-up

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Saying I will start believing in myself is one thing but actually believing in myself is much more difficult. So I’ve looked up a few ways that can help you to stop self-doubting and helping you to believe in yourself.

  1. One way is to write down all of you achievements. Write down everything from the smallest accomplishments to the larger ones.

2. To talk to yourself like you have won, like you are the best, to say to yourself all the time that ‘you are going to succeed’ ‘you are the best’ etc. The same goes if you have issues with loving yourself to say stuff like ‘I look beautiful’ ‘I look great today’ etc.

3. Create a vision board; put everything on it that you want to achieve, everything that you want your life to be like and use it as a constant reminder that that is what you are going to achieve and the you can achieve that. One way to do this online is through Pinterest, you could pin photos of things that inspire you from motivational quotes to photos of places you want to travel to things you want to be able to achieve.

4. People can stop believing in them selves when they start comparing themselves to others. I am guilty of doing this sometimes but then I have to remind myself that my achievements are personal to me and cannot be compared to someone else’s. ‘IntheFrow’ has done a really lovely post about why it’s not worth comparing yourself that you can read here.

For some more ways to believe in yourself visit these useful posts:

http://jackcanfield.com/blog/how-to-believe-in-yourself/ 

https://www.wikihow.com/Believe-in-Yourself

A few quotes to think about:

“Doubt kills more dreams than Failure ever will”

“Be fearless when it comes to life and Be Careless when it comes to what people say and think about you’

“Prove them wrong”

“I can’t think of any better representation of beauty than someone who is unafraid to be herself” – Emma Stone

“the future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams” – Eleanor Roosevelt

‘Believe you can and you’re halfway there’

Thank you for reading! I really hope that this post has helped you in same way, please remember that you can do anything you set your mind to, believe you can and you will be able to achieve it. Never let self doubt had you captive, believe in yourself and break free from your own limitations. Dare to be you. Believe in you.