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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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 🙂

 

 

Happy New Year!

Advice

2016 has been a great year despite the many losses of amazing celebrities. But now its time to welcome in a hopefully incredible 2017! as the saying goes; tomorrow is the first page of a 365 day book, write a good one!

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Photo taken in New York

Most of us make resolutions to make the year even better and to create an even better ‘you’ but we also are not likely to actually keep these resolutions and I am definitely guilty of this! So here are a few ways we can stick to our goals:

First, I am investing in a planner! This is probably something everyone does to be able to schedule and keep up with important plans throughout the year. But I particularly want to get a bigger planner this year that I will actually use so that I can manage my time more effectively. I have never been good at time management but with my exams in the summer of 2017, mapping out my time is going to be very important; I don’t want to be stressed out with the fact ‘I haven’t scheduled enough revision’ or ‘I haven’t written a blog post’ or any of the above. The planner I have got this year is the ‘gold marble diary’ on Oliver Bonus that I got in the sale (money saving may be a resolution haha) -which you can get here.

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Another resolution I’m going to try and achieve next year is to have fitness routine that I am actually going to stick to. I know that a lot of peoples’ goals are to ‘lose weight’ or ‘to drop a dress size’ and a lot of people don’t keep up with this goal by the time May rolls around, a way I’m going to try to actually stick to a routine as by scheduling when I will have time for a workout in my planner and by doing a form of exercise I  enjoy doing so i am more motivated. At the moment I do exercise but it’s more in occasional bursts rather than sticking to a routine so that I really feel the results of feeling healthier, stronger and more flexible. So I will do exercise such as yoga, dance cardio and cycling because this is what I enjoy whilst being challenging enough and potentially giving me the results I need. You can tick off those days that you’ve done any form of exercise in the yearly overview section of your planner, this way you can look back at the end and realise how much effort you are putting in and how much you can improve and weather you need to mix up your routine.

Also if one of your goals is to lose weight (although I am by no means a fitness expert) you need to break down that goal so that you know HOW you are going to achieve that goal. Break it down into you food plan; Are you having a balance diet? Are you eating too much etc. and plan out how you will improve your eating because that is an important part of achieving that goal. Than break it down into exercise; How much do you do now? How much time do you have to do exercise etc. Make sure you do research on those goals too so you can really achieve it and more.

I hope you all have an amazing 2017 and a new post will be up in the new year! I really want to work on my blog next year, what kind of posts do you want to see?

Happy New Year!!!!

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Photos taken with a GoPro and iPhone 7…

Link to Boxing Day blog here…

 

 

practice interviews?

Advice, Lifestyle

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if you live in the uk you will probably have to do a practice interview at some point, its not something all schools do but it was in hindsight a great experience so that you can get feedback and know what an interview is like before doing it ‘for real’. I know a lot of people (including myself) get anxious coming to to an interview even if it is ‘just a practice’. Here are my life lessons (haha) from having a practice interview and other advise I’ve been told from employers:

  1. first, breathe! if you’re anxious and this counts for any situation, breathing is always the best way to calm yourself down. For me if i know am overly nervous i know that i am more likely to go blank if they ask me a question and i won’t think clearly so breathing really helps to get out of that mindset.
  2. act confident, interviewers like to see that you turn up with a smile on your face, good posture, a firm handshake and seem like you know what you’re talking about.
  3. I speak really quickly so a definite tip to my future self is to take it a little slower next time!
  4. Have a career\ life goal in mind. The most my practice interviewer wanted to know was what I am planning to do with my life, that i can set goals for myself and how i am going to achieve those goals.
  5. If you a student really take all the opportunities you can, i know that there are so many people who come to having an interview and have nothing to say for what they had done at school and what responsibilities that had taken on. This could be work experience, volunteering, helping out the school in some way or generally getting involved in anything your interested in

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I am by no means an expert in career advise, i have only done a practice interview but this may help those who are about to have there interviews.

For our school we had to find a smart outfit to wear so all the boys wore suits and girls wore dresses or suits. It was a good experience as my interviewer gave me advise at the end and thoroughly went through my cv as to what was good and what i could add or remove.

what advise do you have for interviews?

have you ever had a bad interview experience?

Studying…

Advice, Lifestyle

As a student, studying seems to take up most of your time. Its so important to keep rehearsing and revising information so that you are more likely to remember it in your exam. There are many different methods of studying, some will work best for some people others revise better through other methods. Here are a couple of ways that work best for me:

First, the way I remember information best is simply going over your class notes or a textbook and highlighting all of the important information; the key words, key terms, important statistics or equations. Highlighting helps me visualise the information better.

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After that I will probably make a mind map. This also helps with visualising the information. It is the best way for me because I can imagine what the mind map looks like and find the information I need in the exam that way, It gives a structure to the information as well which helps with understanding.

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An alternative is using cue cards. I mostly write these for key words or equations, for example for maths or chemistry, but I have friends who use larger cue cards to write down a whole section of a topic (like Ethics & philosophy) and that works really well for them. This makes it easier for you to test how much you know.

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Recently I have found a website, theorganisedstudent, that does helpful free printables. I use the study schedule, study plan and topics to study sheet, this will make sure I am managing my time effectively and that I know what and how I am going to revise and at what time.

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There are useful websites too, memrise and quizlet are the ones I use most often for either french or psychology.

Tips:

  • Take breaks. After about 2 hours or less, take a little break- do some exercise and relax for a bit. Take longer breaks too, to meet up with friends or do a hobby.
  • Reward yourself. After you’ve revised a topic, eat some of your favourite food to reward yourself or go and do something you love doing.
  • Invest in some stationary. I love stationary, it not only does making your notes colourful and pretty but helps you with visualising too and it can make study sessions more enjoyable.

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  • Try out different methods and see which one you like best, people learn differently: either visually, through sound or by being physically involved. Try making up a song to help you remember or by going somewhere like Stratford-upon-avon if you’re studying Shakespeare.

Good luck with your studying and I hope some of this information helps!

If you find you are getting stressed coming up to your exams, try  reading this post to see if it helps.

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