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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A Chat About Shakespeare

Book Club

In the spirit of the new Shakespeare drama written by Ben Elton, starring Branagh, Judi Dench and Ian Mckellen (Also known as the epitome of thespians) called ‘All is true’ which is out today, here is a little chat about the famous bard himself. Shakespeare is a playwright and poet we all know about, some know of ‘Yorrick’s skull’ in Hamlet, or ‘to be or not to be’. Others know of his plays in more depth having studied them at school, and all English speakers use phrases from his plays in everyday life. But the question many ask is of the relevance of his plays today.

At the Globe!

I love Shakespeare’s plays, I revere his craft and the storytelling; the way in which the plays really capture human nature – the ways in which we think, our own hypocrisy, our flaws, our tendencies and the multifaceted sides of all of our personalities. I find that when I watch or read one of the plays, each time you get a new insight into what it means to be human. I think the quote that really sums it up is from Hamlet when Ophelia in her supposed madness says ‘we know who we are, but not what we may be.’

Shakespeare, in my opinion, is often a little bit like marmite – you either love it or you hate it. However, if you are currently one of the haters I urge you to give the plays another try. Go in with an open mind and if it’s a play done by great actors you will understand it.

My personal recommendation is Henry IV as part of The Hollow Crown series of Shakespeare’s histories with Tom Hiddleston as Prince Hal, Jeremy Irons as Henry IV and Simon Russel Beale who plays a brilliant Falstaff, or Branagh’s ‘Much ado about nothing’ with Emma Thompson is very funny and was the film that got me into loving Shakespeare’s plays. (You can find both of these on amazon)

Other favourite performances…

My favourite adaptation of ‘Hamlet’ is Andrew Scotts performance – if you get the chance to watch it, his performance is so clever with little actions really emphasising the themes of the play even if you don’t completely understand the language.

If you ever get the opportunity to go to The Globe, there really is nothing quite like seeing the plays in a replica of what it would have been like watching his plays in the Elizabethan / Jacobean era.

I saw Almeida Theatres Richard II starring Simon Russel Beale a couple of weeks ago, The national theatre often record many of the live performances which makes it so much easier to see theatre in your home town.

Shakespeare with all its old English and metaphor can make it seem completely inaccessible but I urge you to watch some of these adaptations focusing on all the incredible themes focusing on the human capacity to be multiple beings and how he captures human nature. So many scholars have taken Shakespeare over but his plays are something everybody can enjoy.

This new film focuses on Shakespeares later life in his final years and I can’t wait to watch it, I have heard it is quite emotional.

What are your favourite adaptations?

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 :))

Book Club: 2018 in review and 2019 goals

Book Club

At the beginning of this year I set myself the goal to read 7 books (you can read the post here)

I know it is not very many books but In reality when setting this goal I knew it was going to be a little unrealistic as school work does end up getting in the way.

This year I read:

  1. The da Vinci Code
  2. Origin
  3. A Dolls House
  4. A streetcar Named Desire
  5. A Handmaids Tale
  6. Kane and Abel

However half of those books are ones that are compulsory for me to read for my English literature A level so I am a little disappointed I hadn’t read more in my own time (particularly as only one of these were on that list I set myself). Nevertheless I will continue my ambition to read more.

I loved all the books I read, my favourite however was probably either Origin or Kane and Abel as they are both fantastic thrillers and overall much more enjoyable reading. I am a little unsure about The Handmaid’s Tale to be honest, I actually much prefer Nineteen eighty-four.

Here are the books I plan on reading next year (I will set myself the goal of 5, although I imagine I will have more time for reading as I have a longer summer after I have done my A level exams).

  1. Frankenstein By Mary Shelley
  2. To Kill a Mocking Bird by Harper Lee
  3. Weathering Heights by Emily Bronte
  4. The prodigal daughter by Jeffrey Archer (sequel to Kane and Abel)

Then the 5th one I am unsure about because there are some more classics that I would love to read however there are some really great new books I’d love to read to – particularly maybe the A Discovery Of Witches books as I watched the first series of the adaptation and I was hooked. I would also love to read ‘Circe’ or ‘Song of Achilles’ by Madeline Miller as I have heard they are amazing.

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!

 

Reflection of 2018 and What I am Looking Forward to in 2019

Favourites

jolly

Here’s a round up of all of my favourite things from this year….

Films (all released in 2018) that I have seen thus far:

I was going to include Avengers Infinity War to this list because although I did love it, it did end with me just having a lot of questions and i’m not sure that there was much of a plot for me to put it in my favourites of the year. Other notable films are Mamma Mia: Here we go again which had me dancing out of the cinema, it was such a feel good film and Leave No Trace which was a very thought provoking story about civilisation and the way we choose (or don’t choose) to live.

Music:

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There has been a lot of great music out this year and I have been building up my record collection but after much consideration these are my top 5 songs and albums…

  1. Jubilee Road – Tom Odell
  2. 73 – Rationale
  3. Nothing’s Changed – Isaac Waddington
  4. I know how to speak – Manchester Orchestra
  5. Ziggy Alberts –  laps around the sun

However, this year I have mostly been discovering and rediscovering older music that I have loved listening to including the soulful Teskey Brothers which remind me of great 60’s R&B/soul artists like The Drifters and Sam Cooke. Then listening to my usual old favourites like David Bowie, Queen and Stereophonics (the latter I saw at RiZe Festival and they were incredible).

Beauty:

Admittedly, I am not much of a beauty enthusiast – I much prefer skincare to make-up and I hardly ever purchase any – i’m pretty sure I’ve got make up in my draw that are years old and I tend never to really mix it up a bit. Nevertheless these are a couple of my holy grails.

– Origins Clear improvement face mask

Okay… so I may have only just received this for Christmas but I had to share because after using it a couple of times already my skin feels so much softer and smoother and it smells Devine!

Here’s me rocking my best look in this charcoal, golden colour face mask for your viewing pleasure aha

– Charlotte Tilbury Magic Foundation

I use the shade 3.5 pale. I apply it with the bare minerals full flawless face brush.

Doucce maxlash volumizer mascara

I discovered this last Christmas when my sister gave it to me from her advent calendar and I haven’t stopped using it since.

Moments:

– Pub in the park festival in Bath at the front dancing and singing along to Tom Odell.

– RiZe Festival with my gals, arms around each other screaming our hearts out to Bastille.

– Trip to Paris and Bordeaux with my family (my favourite part was a much anticipated (brief) visit to The Louvre, where I finally got to see the Mona Lisa and other Da Vinci works)

Screenshot the photo below and let me know your 2018 favourites!

What I am looking forward to next year:

New film releases…

– The Favourite

– Captain Marvel

– Star Wars

New Book releases…

– the Testaments by Margaret Atwood

– The path made clear by Oprah Winfrey

Moments…

– Finishing A levels

– Going to University (Hopefully – fingers crossed! – depending on how well the above goes!)

– Whatever else life brings and unexpected last minute plans

I hope you have an incredible New year and that 2018 brings you lots of happiness and that you achieve your own personal goals! I’ll be back in early January with my first issue of DARE magazine – so stay tuned!

HAPPY NEW YEAR! ❤ 🥳

 

 

 

Winter Clothing Staples

Fashion, Style

What to wear in the winter can sometimes be tricky, particularly as in England at the moment it is not that cold – here a few of my all time favourite things to wear in the winter and a few new additions to the wardrobe that I absolutely love and I predict will become my staples.

The most important thing I think when it comes to my winter wardrobe is LAYERS, Layers, layers. The huge chunky jumpers can be super cosy but difficult to layer so you can end up being rather hot or too cold. Solution? Chunky cardigans…

This one from And Other Stories (quickly becoming a new favourite store although many of the items are slightly out of my price range), is so cosy and easy to layer as I brought it in a medium so I can layer and it is not that chunky so I can still fit a coat over the top. My relationship with cardigans is not always a great one – I find it difficult to find ones in a style that suits me as I can end up looking completely drowned in huge long cardigans or looking like a grandma in others but so many friends look amazing in them – so you may be one of those people but if you aren’t, like me, do check And Other Stories out; I think they also do one in this style in a few other colours too.

Jeans are often a go-to in winter, they are so easy to wear with all the jumpers! However if, like me, you get a little bored with wearing the same thing everyday I would urge you to give trousers a go. These flared, legging, corduroy material ones from Stradivarius were really inexpensive at £19 and since buying them I haven’t stopped wearing them, they are so comfortable yet look really stylish for any occasion.

On the other hand, if you are on the look-out for a new pair of jeans I love this 80’s mom-style from Weekday, I brought them from ASOS as they are often putting them in the sale. Mine are a bit loose so I always wear them with a belt so if you are thinking of buying a pair maybe try going down a size. But they are SO comfortable, the denim is really soft and the light wash colour means they will be perfect to wear all year round.

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Turtlenecks – I love a turtleneck. You can layer them with jumpers over the top or for warmer days with just a coat like I am in the photo above which was taken down Carnaby Street in London. I am a huge queen fan and I loved the themed lights – It is still open if you want to go see them! The striped one is from Brandy Melville and the grey is one I brought from Primark probably 5 years ago – I tend not to shop there any more because everything is mass produced and unethical to those who make it (I talk in more detail about this issue with fast fashion here).

(The coat is from Zara last winter for those interested)

In summary my top 5 winter staples are…

  1. Thin Jumpers (Cashmere is probably the best but not a cheap choice)
  2. This And Other Stories Cardi
  3. A good pair of Jeans (which you can put tights underneath for extra warmth)
  4. Trousers (to mix things up a bit)
  5. Turtlenecks (you can’t go wrong)

But layering and a great coat is key.

I hope you had a fantastic Christmas and I wish you all the best of luck for the new year, there will be the usual 2018 summary post going up on the 31st and one to start the new year with a little chat about resolutions so ill be back soon!

Thank you so much for reading – it means the world for you all to read and follow my blog!

With love & stuff

Accalia