My A-Levels

Since around November, I’ve been really struggling to decide on what subjects I want to do at A-Level. I think I have finally made my decision, but it’s definitely not final.

First, I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to do 3 or 4 subjects, because I couldn’t pick between two subjects that I wanted to do, and also, I was worried that some universities would see Maths and Further Maths as just one grade, which I now know is stupid. I decided that I was going to pick 4 subjects, and drop the one that I was enjoying the least out of them.

Then it was on to picking the subjects. I knew that I wanted to do Maths and Further Maths, because I’ve wanted to be a Maths teacher since I was like eight years old, and I just love the subject overall. I was quite certain that my third subject would be Economics because I thought that the course would be quite interesting at first glance. My fourth subject was a toss-up between Criminology and Sociology. At first, I was leaning more towards Criminology, because it’s 50% controlled assessment and 50% exam, meaning I’d have less exams, which I really liked. Then I realised that my Graphics coursework at GCSE has literally been the bane of my existence for the past year, and I didn’t want to do any more coursework or controlled assessment, like I would have to in the Criminology course. But the content covered in Criminology interested me more than that in Sociology, so I really didn’t know what to do. Over time, I grew uninterested with both subjects, and decided that I didn’t want to do either. For the past like 6 months, I’ve really been enjoying my Chemistry lessons, so was sort of drawn to it as my fourth subject.

Earlier this month, I decided that I didn’t want to do four A-Levels, even though it would’ve only been for a couple of months. I’d lost interest in Economics, and was also worried that I would find it extremely boring, so dropped it entirely.

That’s really where I am at the minute with my A-Levels. Nothing is final yet, but I’m really happy with my choices: Chemistry, Maths and Further Maths.

Also, a quick tip: if you’re feeling stressed and overwhelmed with the amount of revision for all of your subjects, prioritize the subjects that you need to get a specific grade in to get onto the college course. For example, to get into the college I want to go to, I need a 7 in Maths, a 6 in Chemistry, a 5 in English Language, and 2 more 9-4s, so I’m focusing on those subjects. I’m not saying don’t revise for the subjects you don’t need, obviously do, but you definitely don’t need to do as much. Personally, I’m not going to do as much revision for History and Graphics because I’ll probably never benefit from that grade, as long as I pass, I’ll be okay with it.

How to Make Revision Timetables Using Google Calendar

Making a revision timetable can be time consuming, and blocking out the time by hand can be a nightmare. That’s why I decided to try using Google Calendar to make them, as you don’t need to draw anything out yourself, you can have it with you at all times (either on your laptop, computer or phone) and it’s a paperless system, which is amazing. It’s so easy to set up and maintain, so I’m going to show you how, using a new account I set up for the purpose of this post.

Obviously, the first thing you’re going to want to do is go onto your device (I recommend a laptop or computer for this, as it’ll be easier) and open Google Calendar. Once you’ve signed in, this is what you should see:

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Before this screenshot was taken, I did change the day that the week starts on in settings, as it starts on Sunday by default.

Once it’s open, you’ll want to click on the three buttons next to “Add Calender” and click “Create New Calendar”. Here you want to add all of the catergories of activities, for example: school, any extra-curriculars like football, personal, revision, etc. Here is mine:

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The Birthdays, Reminders and Tasks calendars are there by default. If you don’t want them in your calendar, just untick the box. You can also change the colours of the calendars into the colours you prefer.

Now it’s time to schedule in your events. I’m going to start with when I’m at school. Click on “Create” in the top corner and add the title of “School”. Now change the time to whenever you are at school, for me it’s 8:30am to 3pm. Then, click on the drop down menu next to the calendar icon and click “School” so it colour codes accordingly. Finally, click “More Options” and change “Does Not Repeat” to “Every Weekday”, and press save.

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Next I’m going to schedule in my after school intervention sessions I go to, using the same method, just selecting “Weekly on ___” instead of “Every Weekday”.

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Now, schedule any extra-curricular activities you do.

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Next, schedule any personal events in the week. For example, if you’re going to the cinema or a friend’s house.

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Finally, add anything else you need to schedule, for example doctor’s appointments.

And you’re done. Now you can clearly see how much free time you have, so you can revise effectively and efficiently.

I really hope this post has been beneficial, or even just given you the motivation to make a revision timetable. At the end of the day, everyone plans differently. Some people will prefer to have their plan on a piece of paper on line, and some will prefer just winging it and revisingn when they feel like it, rather than at a set time. And that’s completely fine.

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.

The Job Situation

So this week, I came to the realisation that I want a part-time job. I feel like I have enough free time to balance it with football and school, but my parents don’t seem to agree. They think I should focus solely on school, which is fair enough, I am in Year 11, my exams are just around the corner, but I think that a job could be good for me. It’ll help me to relax a bit from the chaos that is homework and revision, but I do struggle to finish work as it is, let alone when I have to spend at least 12 hours a week working. It doesn’t really help that there doesn’t seem to be any jobs near me, they’re all at least half an hour away.

I really want some money to be completely honest. I never have more than £60 pounds in my bank account, which makes me anxious, and more money conscious than I should for 16 years old, in my opinion. I bought my mum’s birthday card this week, it was £4 from Moonpig, but I felt like I was spending an absolute fortune because of the little money I have in my bank account. My parents constantly make fun out of me when I buy something from Amazon, because I also have my grandma’s bank card connected to the account, they say I’m spending all of her money. So I try to use my own money as much as I can, so they can’t do that. But obviously if I have no money I can’t do that.

I feel awful when I have to spend my grandma’s money, but I physically can’t pay for it myself, because I don’t have a constant stream of money coming in, which I would if I had a job.

I’m definitely in two minds with this situation. I want to succeed with my GCSEs, knowing I couldn’t do anymore, but I want more money, and just work experience in general. I feel like it will help me with my anxiety in a way, the time I spend watching TV or playing on my phone makes me feel super anxious, but working would make me feel like I’m doing something productive with my time away from work. But then again, it may make me feel more anxious because I wouldn’t feel like I have enough time to revise and do all my work.

If you have any advice on what I should do, or just want to share your view on it all, feel free to comment or send me a private message on Twitter or Instagram. The links are in the menu side bar.

What I Did in the October Half Term Holiday

Monday 29th:

Today was a stay-at-home, get all our work done day for me and my dad. I did get a lot of work done, but not all of it, and I hadn’t even started on revision for PPEs in December. I don’t think my dad understands that I need to start preparing for these exams now, and I’m struggling to get all my homework done, let alone revise and have fun. Honestly, this week will be rubbish, and ultimately so will year 11. I just want to cry everyday, which SHOULD NOT be happening. School shouldn’t make you feel like this, they should help you thrive, but no, here I am being failed by the education system. I’m not the first, and I certainly won’t be the last.

Tuesday 30th:

My parents and I went to see Venom today and I absolutely loved it. I’ve been a Marvel fan for as long as I can remember, the comics, the films, the characters, everything hooks me about the Marvel Universe. And Venom was no exception. It had a gripping story line, out of this world graphics, and just the right amount of humour that the symbiote seemed frightening, but nice, if that makes sense. I’m so excited for Carnage, like I cannot contain it. Carnage is by far the most superior symbiote, and to me, the best character that Marvel has ever created. The Superior Carnage comic is so good! Honestly, I could rave about Carnage all day long, but I won’t because it’ll get extremely boring very fast.

Wednesday 31st:

Damn, Halloween is my favourite time of the year. I’m not sure what it is, but the last week of October just has a different buzz than the rest of the year, in my opinion. I didn’t even do anything today, I just love the day. I was having really bad period cramps and I was meant to visit my boyfriend, but him being the gem he is let me stay in my bed and came over to my house instead. It’s the little things, honestly, they mean so much to me. He bought me 4 bottles of Body Shop hand cream, which is my absolute favourite hand cream. The smells are so strong and beautiful, and just amazing in general. Apart from the cramps, today was really good.

Thursday 1st:

My dad and I went bowling today. We played five games, and I won three of them. We got the 11 o’clock train into the city, started playing about 12. It was actually really sad how fast it was, like we’d played all five games in less than an hour and a half. Luckily the bowling place had an arcade so we played in there for like an hour, it was so fun. They had a Jurassic Park game where you have to like kill the dinosaurs that’ve escaped and are attacking you and stuff like that. We literally spent like £5 on that game alone, because if one of us died, the other person carried on, so you’d put another pound in so you could play.

After all that, we did a bit of shopping, we went to the Forbidden Planet shop and I had to refrane from buying most of the things in that shop, I love it so much. We bought a keyring each and one for my mum, a Griffindor coaster and talking Groot notebook for my mum as well. The train home was so packed because it was a 17:20 train, so everyone was on their way home from work. I was stood with my face pressed against the train door. It was so uncomfortable and there was nothing to hold onto so I was falling all over the place. It was overall a good day, even though I started crying about school and college again at like 11 that night.

Friday 2nd:

Today was a pretty chill day, we got the train into town at around 2 because my dad booked to get his hair cut at 3, and a pub in the town was showing the WWE pay-per-view Crown Jewel live from 4. We left after about 45 minutes because the pub didn’t have the sound on and we had to ask if they could put it on, so we decided we might as well watch it at home. So we got home and had a change of plan, because I’m away this weekend, I need to get all of my work done before school, so that was the rest of my night sorted. I finished my graphics homework, but I couldn’t face my English homework. Language paper 2 doesn’t fill me with joy, let’s put it that way. Oh, and I had another cry, but not about school for once.

Saturday 3rd:

I played football this morning and we won 6-1 so stoked about that. I’m battered and bruised and exhausted but I’ll live with it, obviously. This afternoon, I went to my boyfriend’s house because his family were hosting a bonfire party that night. Before it started I did some of my English homework because we had some free time. I’m really bad at it so my boyfriend helped me with it. The party itself was loads of fun, and I’m staying over tonight.

Sunday 4th:

Not looking forward to school tomorrow, but is anyone? We went to a local abbey decorated with hand-knitted poppies. It was so beautiful. Because it’s the day of posting, there’s nothing else to say really, as it’s only been half a day. When I get home later I’ll most likely be trying, and failing, to do my English homework… Still. I need extra help or tutoring or something from my teacher but he won’t listen to me, so I’m just stuck here struggling, which is always fun.

The week as a whole has had a lot of ups and downs, but it was infinitely better than being at school. I may do another one of these, during the December half term, but if all I do is revision for the two weeks it’ll get insanely boring, extremely fast.