My GCSE Mock Results

Before I tell you my results, there is a few things I want to mention. First thing; I’m sorry that I didn’t post last week. I mentioned it a bit on Twitter, but basically, with it being the first week back at school, I was stressed and exhausted, and I went on holiday with my dad that weekend, so I didn’t have time to write. I do feel upset about it, but I know I can get back to posting now.

Also, I’ve been really sick all week, but I managed to drag myself into school every day, no matter how difficult it was and how miserable I felt.

Finally, before I give you my results, I want to tell you about my new partner. I have partnered with The Exam Coach to offer you The 7 Day Exam Plan. This is seven days of lessons filled with tips and tricks to help you ace your exams and reach your GCSE goals. I tried the product out myself and I absolutely adored it. I would definitely recommend buying this product, and definitely sooner rather than later. The sooner you implement the advice given in the podcasts the better. It will definitely save you a lot of time, resources and heartbreak, especially as exam season draws ever nearer. Here’s the link: The 7 Day Exam Plan

On to the only reason you’re really here, the results. DISCLAIMER: You may think my results are absolutely amazing, you may think they’re a bit rubbish, and that is absolutely fine. Success is individual, and everyone sees it differently. Just because I may be upset with a grade that you think is way above what you can get, doesn’t mean that I think you’re stupid or anything like that, I might have just wanted higher in that subject.

English. You either love it or you hate it. I’m definitely on the latter. The lessons bore me so much, and I just can’t really get my head around it. I felt both literature papers and the language paper 2 all went quite well. And I would’ve been happy with anything above a five. In literature I got a 6-, which is a B, and I was really happy with it. I knew I’d done better on paper one, because I can’t do An Inspector Calls or poetry to save my life. In language, we only did paper 2, because we’d been studying it in class, and the extracts were on like surfboards or something. I got a G7, which is my goal for August, which I’m so happy with. I’m not going to aim for an eight, just a higher mark, because I was only 3 marks into that grade. Overall, I’m proud of my two English grades.

Next is maths, my favourite and most important subject. We did our three papers in November, and we got the results in January. I got a 7, which I know is an amazing grade at this stage, but I was so upset with it. All I wanted was an 8 in maths, just to prove that becoming a maths teacher, and being a good one at that, is actually a plausible thing. After lots of talking to my teacher, I finally got over myself, and she convinced me that she’s certain I’ll easily be able to get an 8, or even a 9, which would be absolutely amazing.

After maths on the list is science. I take triple science, so have three grades, all 6s. When I say I hate science, I mean I hate science. Namely biology and physics. The topics in biology are boring and almost all useless for everyday life. For example, the structure of  a leaf… I don’t need to know about stomata and phloem and xylem. And the physics topics are just confusing and difficult. I kind of like chemistry, it’s more interesting and I love my teacher more. I was really happy with my 6s, because I didn’t think the exams had gone well at all. On the second physics paper, you needed 70% to get a 7, and I got 70%, which I was so proud of! It may have only just been a 7, but it was still a 7.

This is definitely the most controversial of them all. DT: Graphic Products. After the exam, my teacher sat us all down and told us that we’d all failed it, and there was only person who “did well enough to get a decent grade with coursework”. He said who it was, and it wasn’t me. That’s why I got a 5 in my exam, a 6 in my unfinished coursework, and a grade 6 overall. I didn’t fail the exam, and I got a decent combined grade. To say I (a) don’t care about the course, (b) have an incompetent teacher who didn’t teach us any of the theory that was on the exam and, (c) didn’t do any revision for it, I did flipping amazing! I’m not bothered about getting anything above a 6 in August, and I only want a 6 so it blends in with the rest of my results more than if I got a 3, for example. I am, however, upset about my coursework grade. I’ve been told since the beginning that my coursework is perfect, but I only got 71/100. The mark does seem better than the grade, because it is. I was TWO MARKS off a grade 7! There are two classes, one of them has a decent teacher who actually marks their coursework and gives them time to improve on it… then there’s my class. Three weeks or so before the coursework needed to be marked for the exams, the other class were given feedback sheets on sections three and four, so they had time to improve and tweak the pages before marking. My class did not get that feedback. I could’ve easily got a 7 in the coursework with that feedback, and it hurts that I didn’t. I could rant about him for hours, but I won’t.

Next is history. It was one of my favourite subjects before I realised how content heavy it is, and how much work it is. I do still enjoy learning it, but applying it to exam questions and having to revise it isn’t my jam. We had two of the three exams: Medicine Through Time, 1250 – Present, and Weimar and Nazi Germany. I thought both papers went okay, but I did better on the Germany paper. I was right. I got 7s on both papers, but they were low 7s, so my overall grade was a 6. I’m also really happy with my 6, because I struggle to remember all of the content in History, because there is just so much of it. I’m not bothered about getting anything higher than a 6 in August because I’m not going to really ever need something higher than a 6.

Last but not least is Spanish. I like Spanish, I’ve been doing it since I was in Year 2 (in an after school club), and I’d like to think I’ve always been quite good at it. I wanted an 8, but I got a 7. I’m not really upset about it because it’s still a really good grade, especially in another language. It means that by August I should be able to get my 8, which I’d be really happy with. Having a second language GCSE can be so useful when going to job interviews, or just generally if your travelling in a country that speaks it.

And that’s all of them. Overall, I’m really happy with them and I know that with proper revision I can get even better. I wish I’d heard about The 7 Day Exam Plan earlier, before I did my mocks, so I could have done better, but I have all of the information now, which is what counts. I really do recommend buying it and trying it out, it’ll work wonders for your exams. Here’s the link again: The 7 Day Exam Plan

Mock Exams

Monday, I started my mock GCSE exams. We’d already done the three Maths papers and the one English Language paper that we were doing, so I have all of my other exams now.

I’ve been quite stressed over them, mostly because I’ve had hardly any time to revise, it definitely didn’t help that my Graphics teacher wanted six pieces of homework due in over the last weekend, which I did not have enough time to do, as I was playing football in the morning and watching football in the afternoon on Saturday.

First this week, I had English Literature Paper 1. The texts that we are doing are Macbeth and Jekyll and Hyde. I was a lot more confident before the exam, and as soon as I read the Macbeth question it just plummeted, I was so shocked. And I think that the Jekyll and Hyde question was good.

I didn’t have any exams on Tuesday, but Wednesday I had my Spanish Listening and Reading, which I weren’t too confident going in to, and I don’t feel like I performed too great in them either. When I got to the translation at the end, I genuinely felt like I was going to cry, in the exam hall. I’d had a banging headache for over an hour and I felt like I’d done so bad, and there was still this rock hard translation to do. I pulled myself semi-together, had a vague guess at the words and phrases in the translation and called it a day with about 20-25 minutes left.

That was my last exam of the week. Hopefully, I’ll be getting my maths grade on Monday, and I’ll be tweeting about it, so be sure to follow me if you’re interested in that. My next exams are on Tuesday and they’re Physics Paper 1 and History Paper 1, and I’m dreading both of them. I’ve been prioritising Physics over History, and I’m not really sure why, because I think History is by far the more interesting of the two. There’s just a part of me that wants to do well in all of my sciences, maybe because they’re difficult, and I want to feel that achievement, or just because I feel like it. I’m really not sure.

Apps and Resources I Use for Revision

With the ever increasing use of mobile phones, tablets, etc, I feel it’s vital to know about the resources available to you in the palm of your hand, no matter where you are. I think that there are so many apps at our fingertips, you just need to access them.

Duolingo

No matter what language you’re learning, no matter what your native tongue is. Duolingo is, in my opinion, the best language learning app there is. It’s so cleanly structured, and can be a lot of fun.

When I complete a section, there’s a real rewarding feeling. Also, I’ve noticed, using other language learning apps, that Duolingo don’t restrict you much with the free version. You can pay a subscription to DuolingoPlus, but you don’t have to. You can still access all of the lessons and resources, unlike apps like Memrise which only gives you the very basics of the content.

Quizlet

This one’s pretty obvious. Quizlet is another free website and app that you can make and use flashcards to learn key words, content and vocab. I use it mostly for equations in maths and physics, and important chemical formulas in Chemistry (e.g. HCl is hydrochloric acid). My favourite feature is the Classes feature. Because you can share your sets with anyone in that class. For example, I’m in a class with my friends and we share all of our sets together, as we take almost all the same subjects. I also love the range of learning activities you can use to learn your flashcards, including little games. I mostly use the Learn activity, but Match and Gravity are fun too.

I would recommend Quizlet to anyone who’s in school. It’s so versatile and you can learn almost anything. Even if you’re too lazy to make your own sets, you can search what you’re looking for and it shows hundreds of existing sets related to your search. It’s another free app with the option to buy QuizletPlus, which gives you offline learning as well as many other features, but it’s DEFINITELY not necessary.

Hegarty Maths

This resource is new into my school, and it’s been a bit controversial. The concept is brilliant, but some of the videos are wrong.

Basically, for every topic in maths, there are videos and related questions you use to test yourself and revise. First, you watch the video, making any notes you think necessary, then attempt the questions. If you get a question wrong, the system makes a record of it, and you ca attempt a “Fix-Up Five” which is five questions based on what you’ve got wrong in the past. I, personally, love the program, I think that it’s well thought out and you can easily achieve top grades if you use it constantly. However, most of my friends don’t agree, I’m not too sure why, but each to their own.

Your school has to purchase this system for you to use it, but I would definitely recommend asking your maths teacher if your school can look into buying it, as it’s suitable for everyone, primary age to high school, and is a valuable resource, in my opinion.

GCSEPod

This one is a strange one. I don’t think it’s available to just anyone, I think your school has to buy it then roll it out to you. I’m not sure.

Anyway, if your school has access to this program, I highly recommend using it. It gives you less than 5 minute videos, full to the brim of all the key bits of information for that topic. I know that I definitely struggle with what the key points to remember are, so having them presented to me so easily and straight-forward is a big help. You can also download any of the videos to listen to when you’re offline, so it’s always accessible.

Photoshop

Photoshop definitely isn’t needed for most people, but if you’re doing a graphic design course, it may be useful, especially if you’re behind on your coursework. I downloaded a free trial of Photoshop a couple of days ago, because I only have 5 lessons a fortnight when I can work on my coursework, and I wanted to be able to access it from home. Even though it’s only a seven-day trial, it’s still better than not being able to work on it at all.

With the free trial, you get all the same benefits you would if you paid, just only for a limited amount of time, obviously. It’s definitely been a big help to me these past couple days, and could be for you as well.

How to Write a Personal Statement

As I mentioned in a previous post, I’ve been writing my college applications and within that, my personal statement. I’ve picked up some tips and tricks along the way to sculpt a near perfect personal statement if executed correctly.

The first thing I did was bullet point all of the things I wanted to talk about, or that may be important to include. You’ll definitely find it easier to write pages about yourself if you have some sort of plan of action.

Once you have all your points, prioritise them. But your most important factors first, because schools will receive thousands of applications, so will most likely skim read most of your personal statement. They’ll focus mostly on your first couple paragraphs, so you want those to be your best attributes. My first two paragraphs were about my attendance, punctuality and aspirations, to show the colleges that I will be a valued member of their school with some idea of future goals and steps needed to reach them. One of the colleges I’m applying to has a women’s football academy that I want to join, so I made sure that I mentioned my footballing achievements  near the beginning as well.

Probably my most important bit of advice is to try to be as non-repetitive as possible, if it sounds like you’re reading off a list, then assessors will get bored and stop reading. Also, make sure your grammar is impeccable, you don’t want it to seem like you have any weaknesses, basically.

Finally, I know it’s an odd feeling making yourself sound amazing, especially if you feel like you aren’t, but everyone probably feels the same way as you. It’s something you have to do, so there’s no point putting it off, hoping you’ll magically be capable of writing one eventually. If you’re really struggling, ask your parents or your teachers to help you and give you feedback on what you’ve written already. I asked my dad to read mine for me, and he made a couple of adjustments, rewording some parts, adding details I’d missed out, etc. It was super beneficial, and he didn’t mind doing it at all.

Anyway, if you make a really good personal now, you’ll only have to add to it and tweak it a bit to apply for jobs or universities. So while it is a challenging task, it is extremely rewarding for your future, and your future self will be grateful for it.

Year 11 vs Years 7-10

It’s no secret that as you get older, you get more homework, and the expectation for the quality of the homework increases as well.

But with year 11, it’s completely different. The amount of homework increases and so does the pressure of revision. It seems so contradictory to me, that schools expect you to revise when they give you so much homework there’s no time left in the day to get out your textbooks for extra revision. I understand that this year is the most important and all, but your life shouldn’t have to stop because of it. My friends and I are no longer scheduling meet ups and days together, because we simply do not have the time because of the workload.

I don’t know whether this happened at all schools or just mine, but through years 7-10 we had three lessons of core PE a fortnight, but now we only have two, because they’ve taken lessons and replaced them with extra English lessons. It used to be eight English lessons and eight maths lessons throughout the two week timetable, but now it’s 10 and 8, which I despise, really, because I absolutely adore maths, whereas English I just don’t. Most people I’ve spoken to have preferred maths over English, because you have to think a certain way to succeed at English, and maths is just “this is how you do it”, very straight-forward.

Year 11 sucks all of the fun out of school. I know that not everyone enjoys it, or enjoyed school like I do, but even so you still had at least some fun in lessons. But not anymore. All of your attention needs to be on the work, or you’ll fall behind, which is never good, because you get so much work without missing deadlines or finishing worksheets in lessons.

Of course, it’s stressful. It’s only October and I’m already dreading the exams in May. I don’t feel like I have enough time, because of all of the homework I get, and how little energy I have when I get home. Every day feels like a marathon to me, I’m glad when they’re over, and dreading the next day.

Anyways, here’s some tips for anyone at high school:

  • Enjoy years 7-9, have fun, but still try hard in all your lessons.
  • When you pick your GCSE options, make sure you pick for yourself rather than others. You should pick subjects you enjoy, not what your friends are picking.
  • Make sure your choices make sure you have a wide range of GCSEs so you have the ability to change career paths if you don’t enjoy what you’re doing in that moment.
  • Use Year 10 to make revision resources for everything you cover in that year. You don’t want to be in the position I’m in, where you have hardly any revision material for all of the content you covered in the first year.
  • When you have an end of unit test coming up, revise for those tests, you’ll more accurately see the gaps in your knowledge than if you don’t revise for them at all.

College Applications

So about a month ago my school introduced us to the wonderful world that is choosing your college. Every college near me offers basically the same courses and everyone says that theirs is the best, making choosing the few to apply to almost impossible.

I’m currently torn between maths, further maths, statistics, economics and criminology. They’re all fascinating and interesting to me, but I know that I can’t do them all. Apparently there’s a lot of overlap between maths and further maths so i might as well only do maths, that’s all I know.

There’s way too many things we have to do and focus on in year 11. There’s college applications that need to be sent before the end of term in December, there’s PPEs in November/December which we need to revise for. We get more homework than there is time to do it. We have the actual GCSEs looming in May, and prom in June or July. So much to do, so little time. There’ll be a post coming about year 11 and how different and more challenging it is compared to other years in the near future.

We get told that we need to balance school and hobbies and everything else but that’s extremely difficult given the sheer volume of work we get given each week, but I’ll talk more about workload in another post.

An integral part of our applications is personal statements, which should seem easy enough to do. You talk about the things you’ve done, things you’ve learnt, skills, etc. But talking about yourself in a promotional way is actually quite difficult. You don’t want to be too repetitive with your qualities; for example “I am hardworking, I’m organised, I work well with others”. And you have to explain how these qualities help you in day to day life and why having these qualities make you better than everyone else. It’s so unnatural to most people, including myself. I think the only positive from having to make one now is that you can keep it for use on university or job applications in the future as well, you’d just adapt it and add to it to keep it up to date and you’re sorted.

I believe that most people think that which college you go to makes a huge difference to your success at A-Level but I don’t really agree. As long as it’s somewhere with a high standard of teaching, with good support systems in place, and somewhere you feel happy and comfortable in than they’re all much of the same. But of course that may just be me, and everyone has their own motives and opinions. I know that there’s one particular college in my area that everyone wants to go to because last year they got a 98.9% pass rate on average, but that doesn’t mean that every other college is inferior to that one. There’s a college not ten minutes away from that one that only does BTEC and vocational courses, it’s not necessarily a worse college, it just offers different things, so has completely different statistics and successes.

In summary, the process of picking your top three or four colleges is challenging and long-winded, and you’ll more than likely regret your choices at some point, but you just have to live with that. And if you end up disliking the college you go to, you’re only there for two years, so you can live with it really.