How To Use College Transition Day Effectively

Over the next couple of weeks, most colleges will be holding transition days, where you go to the school for the day, and participate in lessons of your choosing. You will meet subject teachers, meet people who may be in your classes from September, and get a general feel of what it is like to go to that college / sixth form. In this post, I will give you a few ways that you can use these days to make your final decision about which school to go to, decide what A-Levels you want to take, and which note taking method may be best for you during lessons.

How to make your college decision:

These days are your first real experience of college life. I think they are so vital because each school offers completely different things, and some will be better for you than others. Use transition day wisely; pay full attention to your teacher, and the structure of the lesson, because even though you may not have that specific teacher, the likelihood is the lesson structure will be similar, if not identical throughout the faculty. For example, College X may have a more time specific structure – you have 5 minutes to complete this task – where as College Y may have more of a “take as much time as you need” structure. I know that I prefer to have a specific amount of time to complete a task, so I’m leaning more towards College X, because I prefer the structure, and I feel I will learn more effectively in that manner.

Not only are lessons structured differently, but the school day as a whole may be as well. You will most likely be at the school from 9am to 3pm, and will be escorted throughout the campus to your various lessons, so you will also get a feel of the grounds, and how busy it will be, as thousands of you move all move at once. You may feel more at ease in one school than another, and that will factor into which you choose in the end. Try to make note of even the littlest of things, because they may end up being the deciding factor.

Deciding what subjects to take:

You will try out three subjects on transition day, and they will be the subjects you put on your application. If you’ve changed your mind then on the day, go to a help desk if they have one and see if it is possible for you to participate in a different lesson. Even if you can’t, don’t panic, you will be able to change your subjects on enrolment day.

You will essentially be taught your first lesson of each subject on the day, and it will allow you to get a sense of the curriculum and lesson style, so you can really see if you think you will enjoy a certain course. I think it’s best that you do some of your own research on the subject before choosing it though, and not just go off one lesson you had. Take a look at the syllabus and also at YouTube, as people will have videos about their experience and opinion on the subject. For example, I didn’t know a lot about economics so I looked up the kind of things you learn during the course and stuff like that, and I think that it will be something I enjoy, as I enjoy finance and applications in the real world, which is basically what economics is.

At one of the transition days I’m attending, I couldn’t change one of my choices from sociology to chemistry, so if I can’t change on the day, I will take the sociology and I may love it, and decide to take it over chemistry in the end.

Overall, just go in with an open mindset, and actively take part in the lesson, so you can get the most out of it. Think that each lesson you have in the certain subject is going to be similar to this one, just with different content, but I definitely recommend doing some of your own research into any course you’re thinking about choosing.

How to find a good note-taking method:

So, you’re in three 60-90 minute lessons, which gives you 3 opportunities to experiment with note taking methods. For each lesson, use a different method, and at the end of they day, look over the notes you have made, and see which one you prefer.

Obviously, this isn’t a definitive method, as you need to use a note taking style consistently to really know if it works or not, but it will give you an initial idea of what to try at first, rather than going in on your first day completely blind.

Good luck to everyone on your transition days and results day, I hope you all get the grades you want and get into your first choice college!

Emptiness

12 years. I’ve spent the last 12 years, at school, 8-3, every weekday.

Now I’ve finished. Now there is nothing. I have all of the free time in the world (unless I get a job but honestly it’s not looking good for me) and I have no idea what to do with myself.

It’s weird how you get so comfortable doing the same things in the same places every day for the majority of your life, and then all of a sudden… it’s just gone, and there is literally nothing you can do about it.

I’m acting like things will never be the same again, but it’s only like 2 and a half months until I start school again, and almost everything will be exactly the same as it has been for so long.I think I am slowly getting used to it, and I’m sure that this time next week it’ll be like I was never at school in the first place.

I was thinking earlier about seeing if I can go volunteer at the local library some days, just to get out of the house and give me something to do rather than just sitting at home mindlessly watching Netflix.

That’s really the only advise I have for anyone feeling the same. Get a job or volunteer somewhere just to get you out of the house and interacting with other people. But make sure you do give yourself time to rest and relax because we’ve all earned this long break from school.

GCSEs

With my exams starting in just over a week, and my Spanish Speaking exam on Wednesday, my blog has been the least of my worries.

Every time I would sit down to write, I would instead revise, or watch Netflix, but never actually write. And I’m not upset about it. My exams are my priority right now, because I know I will never be able to make a good, sustainable living from this blog, it’ll only ever be a hobby. My GCSEs help sculpt my future, and I need them more than a regular post schedule on my small blog.

I finish my final exam on the 14th of June. From then all I will be completely free to do whatever I wish. I’m going to try to travel, read a lot more, and maybe get a job (I’ll have to sort out my CV first though, it’s a mess). I’ll be able to brainstorm ideas more easily, be happier, and consequently more creative. I’ll try my best to keep to a regular schedule, but my school work will always come first, so it may not happen.

I’ll also have more of social media presence, posting more on both Instagram and Twitter.

Just hold onto until June. The best is yet to come.

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.

How To Choose Your College

Being in the middle of college interviews, many students will be starting to get stressed, not knowing which college to go to. Even though, the decision doesn’t have to be made until Result’s Day, it’s nice to know that it’s all sorted, so you can focus on getting the best out of these exams.

The first thing to think of is, of course, the courses that they offer and the teachers there. Open Evenings were/are the best way to grasp this. I know that most of them have already been and gone, but a select few still have one or two in the coming months. If you haven’t talked to the subject teachers, and you have an opportunity to, highly recommend that you go and speak to them. One of the most important things on my criteria for picking the right college for me is the subject teachers, it’s essential that you are supported with teachers that will help you and support you if you don’t understand something in class or in your homework.

You also need to look at the facilities that they have at the colleges you’re thinking about enrolling at. For example, if you want to do Chemistry, you’d want to attend a college that have modern labs, as they’ll be an essential part of your course for practicals. You don’t want to go to a college that has facilities might restrict you and your performance as they don’t have what you need.

Another important thing for me is ease of travel. It’d obviously different for other people, but I don’t want to spend 45 minutes travelling to school and 45 minutes travelling home, because it’s wasting valuable time that could be spent revising or anything except travelling. Some people could use the long travelling time to get some work done, but I get easily motion sick, so it’s just not an option for me. Obviously, some time is going to have to be spent travelling, as most people don’t live practically next door to a sixth form or college. In my opinion, most of the time, it’s not going to be worth travelling for hours to and from school every day, especially if there’s an easier option.

At the end of the day, everyone has different needs and wants when it comes to a college, I’m just giving some of the things I looked for in the colleges I liked, which helped me to decide on the college I wanted to go to. Don’t get too stressed about it if you haven’t chosen somewhere yet, you have until the end of August to decide.

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