10 REVISION TIPS from an A level student

accaliasmith.com

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!!!

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!

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.

No Rain No Flowers

Lifestyle, Thoughts, Travel

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Hello, Hope you are all okay!

So yesterday was world mental health day so I thought I would discuss some ways I deal with any anxieties and about why it’s so good to talk to each other about how we feel and be open about it. Mental health shouldn’t be a taboo topic as it is so common and talking about it is one of the best ways to help people with mental illnesses.

So one of the best ways to make yourself happier is to surround yourself with positive motivational people who support you and are always there for you. Make an effort to speak to these people often; with good friends you don’t need therapists.

Another way to feel less anxious is to look after yourself! Make sure you get enough sleep, eat a balanced diet and make enough time for things you like doing. Exercise is also good for relieving stress; even just a small walk around the block can really help.


I have always been quite an anxious person, I wouldn’t say I have anxiety but I’ve always worried too much about things I shouldn’t have to worry about. And through those times I tend to use an app called ‘calm’ and it really does help. Having calming music or having something to basically remind you to breathe really helps. So if ever feeling a bit panicky I would I highly recommend using it.

Life is tough. It’s stressful. It’s annoying. It can be overwhelming. There are times we all get a bit down and anxious and even if you don’t have a diagnosed mental illness it’s still good to do these sorts of things or whatever works for you and makes you feel calm and happy.

So I’ve titled this post ‘No Rain, No Flowers’. this phrase is so true, without some negatives, some failures and some unhappy moments there wont be anything good, you wont be happy and succeed. Its good to remember that in the difficult times because you know you won’t be unhappy forever; there will be flowers.

Failure is something I’ve had to battle and continue to, its something I’ve had such a massive fear of when in reality the little failures we make make us who we are, help us to grow and better ourselves.

 

Overall love yourself! You are always enough because there is no one else like you and if you’re ever feeling down or anxious about anything talk to friends and family or anyone that makes you feel loved.

I hope you liked this chatty post about mental health and happiness. Please fell free to leave a comment and please like and follow to read future posts! 🙂

(All photos are from a walk around Kingston lacy)

(What I’m wearing: topshop teal crop top, vintage striped blazer (you can find similar on ASOS), topshop Jamie jeans, vans)

The next step

Lifestyle, Thoughts

So I now have just started sixth form! I realize that I never actually seemed to do a post on the end of GCSE’s or what the exam season was like for me but i’ll include it in this post (better late than never, right?).

Year 11, for me, was really just like any other year up to that point just a lot more boring and a little more revision. Boring because you don’t really learn anything new and its pretty much recap than a whole load of exams. However I didn’t find it stressful; I just went through the year thinking my whole school life I’ve been doing exams – why should I treat this any differently? I just made sure I did as much revision as I could fit in, then I know that that is the best I can do. If you have just started year 11 then my biggest piece of advise to you would be to keep calm and stay organised. Treat yourself after a few hours of revision and make sure to keep emergency snacks of choice at hand!

Our school gave us a meal plan of the best foods to eat during exam season for ‘optimum revision and focus’ but lets be honest we need something to get us through and I definitely was not planning to have a salad after revising all day. Pizza and chocolate were my go to’s and they definitely helped 🙂

If you are anxious or stressed read this blog post on a few of the ways that work for me to relax and unwind. The biggest thing is to try and have a balance between revision and doing other things you want to do like meeting up with friends or going on a walk. To read this post click hereeeeeeee.

And to view my posts on studying and a couple of revision tips click hereeeee and hereee

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Results day- oh what a joyful word haha. To be honest, results day is actually okay, everyone is in the same boat and has different expectations of themselves, My tips to remember on results day are:

  1. remember you have your own expectations of what you can do. Some people are happy simply to pass others will not be happy unless they get straight As. Everyone is aiming for something different,
  2. On that note also remember to not compare yourself to anyone else! I knew a few people with pretty much straight A* s but that’s fine, I was really pleased for them and I was also okay with my own grades because I  knew I had done the best I could do.

So now its A levels! Already I know that they are such a big step up from GCSE. Most people told me that A levels will be the most difficult 2 years in terms of education and exams, even more of a step up than university.

I am taking chemistry, Biology, art and English literature.

I chose 2 sciences because at the moment i am thinking of studying veterinary medicine at university but I am torn between doing something in science or doing something more creative so there is no way I wouldn’t do art. And I think i’ll drop English lit at the end of the year.

AFTER GCSE you have the choice to go to a sixth form, college or do an apprenticeship as you have to stay in education until the age of 18. I chose sixth form because I know that they normally get better grades. The sixth form is also a part of the same school as my secondary school so i already know most of the teachers and where i will have to go etc. its not a massive change to get used to like going to a whole new school will be.

whereas in college you get a lot more independence but that can sometimes mean that a lot of people there might not care about what grades they get and that’s fine too. Its also great because everyone there has a chance of a fresh start. Its all down to personal preference.

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So A levels… i have been studying my subjects for around 4 weeks and i do have to admit it is so much work! everyone told me that the step up from GCSE  to A levels would be really difficult and they were right. Particularly as at our sixth form you have to study 4 subjects in the first year whereas it seems in many other schools now you only have to study 3. They don’t do AS level anymore either so it feels like we are doing a lot of hard work for nothing! Hopefully ill get used do all the work  soon aha

Have you just gone back to school/ sixth form / uni? if so how you finding it? x

I really hoped you enjoyed this post, just a little update of my student life haha, please like and subscribe! Id also love it if you have any suggestions for future posts,  just let me know in the comments 🙂