Results Day 2018 (+ A Level recap!)

Right. I’ve already written this post out TWICE but somehow managed to lose the drafts?? (WordPress is CLEARLY conspiring against me!!!!!!!!). So now I’m handwriting it up in a notebook to type up later because I don’t trust technology anymore!!

As it was A Level results day last week, I thought I’d take some time to reflect on the past two years now that this chapter in my education has come to a close. I don’t know if this will be interesting but I like reflecting on things and can’t really believe A Levels are over???

For context, in the UK after you finish secondary school at 15/16, it is compulsory to staying education until you are 18 and one pathway you can choose to go down is studying A Levels and that is what I’ve been doing for the past two years. After having a bit of difficulty trying to narrow down which 3 (or 4) subjects I wanted to study, I finally settled on geography, history and French as these had been the subjects I enjoyed most at GCSE. I did contemplate taking law as well but decided to drop it on enrolment day as I wasn’t really interested in it. Even though the college tried to force me to take four A Levels due to my GCSE results claiming I’d “get better results” if I did four as it would “make me work harder” (I ranted about this here lol), I was happy with the three I chose.

I think it took me the best of September to December of Year 12 to settle in at college. Everything was new to me. I had to take an hour bus journey instead of a short walk, my timetable was very different with lots of free time that I had to learn to manage effectively, the workload was very demanding and I was surrounded my so many new people. However, all of these new experiences have really helped me to become a lot more independent and confident.

If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you’ve probably read my various rants about my different A Level subjects (perhaps I’ll link some of my A Level related posts at the bottom of this one in case they’re useful to someone??). I think when you study subjects in such a level of depth as you do at A level, you soon discover what you’re most interested in and best at. Although I loved geography at GCSE, the A Level really was an uphill battle. I definitely enjoyed most of what we were learning and the broader perspective it gave me on global issues, however the scientific and geological aspects really weren’t my strong points, not to mention the maths! I probably did the most independent work for geography as well as it just took me forever to get my head around things. At the end of Year 12, I kind of wished I could drop geography as I didn’t know how I would cope with another year of it, but I persevered and I’m so glad I did. In my exam recap, I explained how badly I thought the geography exams went. I feel like I never really understood how to do the geography exams?? Or answer the questions?? I think my brain just works differently to how a geographers brain should, and it didn’t help that my teacher didn’t really understand what the examiners wanted from us and didn’t like marking our work. Either way, geography was definitely my hardest subject. I’m just so glad I spent so many hours writing and re-writing my coursework because my results last week confirmed that the exams didn’t go too well, especially Paper 1 and 2, so my coursework really saved me there! (And thank goodness for low grade boundaries!!!!!!!).

As for history, I didn’t really enjoy the course as much as I’d hoped. History had always been my favourite subject and I was sure I wanted to study it at uni but I just?? I don’t know what it was but I just didn’t love it that much. It’s not that the content wasn’t interesting as I did like the paper about changing democracy in Britain in the 20th century and the coursework on the origins of the Holocaust,  I think I just realised it wasn’t for me anymore and I wanted to broaden my mind and knowledge in other ways. I still worked really hard for history though, and the exams went really well so the hard work really paid off!!

French was the subject I was most apprehensive about because back in Year 11 when I chose my A Levels, I was very quiet and wouldn’t contribute in class, so I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to do a subject that depended so heavily on speaking and having confidence. However taking French has been the best thing I’ve ever done. It really has changed me and I have so much more confidence now!! Languages are so rewarding to study and out of all of my subjects, I made the most progress in French across the two years. I barely knew French grammar or could string more than a sentence together when I started, and somehow I managed to do a 20 minute speaking exam, write essays on a book and film and complete translations with decent accuracy???? I was just SO SHOCKED when I opened my results because I couldn’t believe how much progress I’d made??? It’s so hard to maintain a constant grade in languages as it really depends on the paper and what comes up. Literally the week before my final French exam – the literature/film essays – we did a mock and I got a D which really threw my confidence as I’d been getting As and Bs all year, but I worked so, so hard after that and managed to write the best essays I’ve ever written in the final exam??? I just CAN’T believe that I did it and got the grade that I wanted????!!?! AHHHH.

I can remember in first year being very nervous before our fortnightly speaking sessions or before reading passages in class, even translations were scary when we first started doing them and now they’ve become something that I love. I’m so, so glad that I’ve had such a good teacher over the past two years and supportive classmates. Some of my best memories from college come from French and I’d love to do it all over again.

As you can probably tell, I am most happy about my French result because I just fell in love with subject and when you do well at something you love, it’s such an amazing feeling. I am proud of my other results too though. I know I could’ve gotten better results in different circumstances but there’s always more work you can do but that doesn’t mean you need to (this me is attempting to deal with perfectionist part of my brain lol). I still can’t believe my friends and I have made it through A Levels and are now going on to the next stages of our lives. It’s a very surreal feeling.

I know this has been a bit rambly, but as you can probably tell I’m just a liiiiittle bit emotional after results day. I’m so happy with what I achieved and it feels SO STRANGE that I never have to do A Levels again?? I’m a bit sad about finishing college in a way because although it had it’s fair share of drama, stress and tears, I feel like the struggle of A Levels really has shaped me as a person. I can’t quite put my finger on it but reading back through some of my posts from Year 12 and 13 just feels so weird?? Like, I can’t believe how much my friends and I have changed. I will definitely cherish the good memories!! I didn’t miss secondary school after I left, but I will definitely miss college.

I sincerely hope that everyone who received A Level results last week got the grades that they needed to progress onto their next step. You should be so proud of yourselves for making it through and I hope you can look back on A Levels with some good memories in spite of the all the stress!! Good luck to anyone collecting GCSE results this week too 🙂

I’ve linked some previous posts about A Levels from the past two years in case they might be helpful! This will be the last post I ever write about A Levels so from now on you are free from my rants haha 😂

A Level study/revision tips  (this is from Year 12 so by Year 13 I’d developed a few new ways of studying but these tips may still be useful!!)

A big thread of A Level advice

My French journey including thoughts about A Level French!!

My experience of Year 12 and what going to college is like

Summer between Year 12 and 13 study goals

Tips for starting sixth form

Sixth form stationary haul

The School Routine Tag

Study with me: Year 13 revision edition

Study with me: Easter revision edition

Exam season thoughts 2018

A Levels are over!! Exam recap

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Exam Season Thoughts!!

Hello! As a lot of you will know (and as I keep going on about), it’s currently exam season here in the UK. I thought I’d take some time to check-in and share some thoughts with you I guess!

Exam season so far has been a bit of a mess for me. Firstly, I was ill for almost three weeks with a flu type thing. I’ve only just been feeling better this past week, which was lucky as I had my first exam on Wednesday (French speaking) and it would have been an absolute disaster if I still couldn’t speak properly. Being ill in exam time is really inconvenient. I had to take time off from college and revision and I felt really overwhelmed because I’d got so behind on work. Then once I started getting better, the stress hit me like a tonne of bricks and I found myself having almost daily breakdowns because everything was overwhelming and I just couldn’t cope.

However, I’ve managed to pick myself back up again and I’ve learnt a lot about the importance of finding a balance between studying and looking after my health. So I guess I feel like sharing it in case it helps anyone else – or my future self – out.

Personally, I have always been very organised when it comes to exam season, as in, I like to have my revision completely planned out so I know what I should be doing when and I’d make revision timetables months in advance. However this year, I’ve probably made about six different revision timetables and just haven’t been able to stick to a schedule. I’d end up missing revision one day because I was too tired or had other commitments then found myself constantly trying to catch up with all the stuff I’d missed as well as get all the stuff I’d scheduled for that day finished and quite frankly it just didn’t work and made me way more stressed out than I needed to be.

My teacher said to me a while ago that the secret to good revision is to stop planning and start doing, and I’m only know realising how right he was because I’d spend hours trying to figure out a revision timetable that worked, in the mean time getting frustrated and stressed about the amount of work I had to do and lack of time, then I’d be too worked up to actually do any work and before I knew it the day would be over and I hadn’t achieved anything. Now I’ve decided that revision timetables just don’t work for me anymore or with the demands of my A Level subjects, so I’ve developed a new, much better system.

Basically, I just write out a list of everything I need to do in the near future to feel confident for each of my exam papers, then each week/weekend I’ll choose the paper that I feel most concerned about at that moment and will focus on getting as far through the list as possible that week/weekend. That way, I’m not stressing myself out by saying I need to write so many essays on this day, instead I just get on with it and actually do some work. I can be a lot more productive if I’m not telling myself I will fail if I don’t get through a certain amount of work each day, and I feel like I’m learning and remembering a lot more because I’m less stressed. Revision is actually becoming a bit more enjoyable.

I know different revision techniques work better for different people, but I thought I’d found my ‘revision style’ after going through two GCSE exam seasons, but I guess they in which we study best changes when we grow and learn more. So the lesson I’ve learnt from this is that I should be more open-minded to shaking-up my revision and studying a bit and to not stress myself out by setting unrealistic goals!

Good luck to everyone doing exams at the moment, make sure you take time to take care of yourself too. 🙂

Study With Me: Easter Edition!!!

Hello! Although I – uncharacteristically – have lots of inspiration for blog  posts at the moment (namely philosophical musings about life inspired by public transport and weather and all sorts of other not-very-exciting-things-which-keep-leading-me-to-consider-deeper-meanings), I’ve decided to do another study with me, because I don’t have enough time to do any of these thoughts justice, but I still wanted to write a little update. Hope you enjoy 🙂

8:30 – Wake up (to the annoying sound of my alarm because otherwise I’d sleep until 10am lol). I had some breakfast, got ready and made my to-do list for the day.
Sticky note reading: USA flashcards and quizlet, geography coursework, la famille vocab and la famille speaking mock
I’m actually a day ahead with revision, because I did all of today’s scheduled revision yesterday, so I decided to do tomorrow’s today.

10:00-11:00 – History flashcards

I managed to get through half of the unit I’d planned to make flashcards on because it took a lot longer than expected, but that’s okay because I’ll finish them off tomorrow.

Flashcards
11:00-11:20 – History Quizlet

I typed up the key polices, dates and statistics from my history flashcards into Quizlet – which is quickly become one of my favourite revision resources. It basically allows you to create a virtual set of flashcards which you can complete various activities and games with to help you learn them, it’s particularly useful for language vocab but works for history too!

11:20-1:00 – Geography coursework

My coursework dealdine is in 8 days, so I’m trying to use any non-revision time to work on editing it. Somehow my word count keeps increasing even though I’m trying to make it shorter?? I’m already over the 4000 word limit so it’s going to take a lot of time to get it below that.

4:45-6:00 – French speaking practice

I had a bit of a break in revision for lunch then I had to go to town to do some shopping and visit the bank. When I got home I was so tired I had a nap (#studentstruggles). But! Once I started French revision I got a lot done. I went through all the vocab for “La Famille” unit on Quizlet, then read through all the key facts/statistics and responses to “unpredictable” questions for that unit. After that I did a mock exam using a speaking card like the one’s we are given in the first part of our exam. We get five minutes to prepare (hence my scruffy handwriting pictured below) then have to give our responses and answer a few unpredictable questions for a total of 6 minutes. I recorded myself speaking as well (although in hindsight this wasn’t a great idea – listening back to yourself trying to speak a foreign language is the worst thing ever).

French revision guide with annotations
6:45-8:15 – Geography coursework

After dinner I went back to my coursework and tried to make some progress. I did a bit of editing but mainly sorted out my bibliography and positioning of photos (because aesthetics are important clearly). In the end I was too tired and kept going round in circles so I gave up for revision for the day and did a bit of yoga to wind down.
Thank for reading and, as always, hope you are well! 🙂

How To Have A Productive Day!

Hello! Lately I’ve had to learn to manage my time and be productive as exams are drawing nearer and my workload just keeps growing. Since we had two snow days the week before last, I’ve spent more time at home than at college, so I’ve been trying to maximise my time and be as productive as possible. I thought I’d share a few tips with you to help you be productive too. 🙂

To-do lists

The first thing I do after I’ve woken up, had breakfast and got ready is to write a to-do list. With A-Levels there tends to always be hundreds of things you need to get done and deadlines all over the place, so I find writing down what I need to get done that day/over the weekend a good way to structure my day.

If I’ve got loads of work and the thought of tackling it is stressing me out, I’ll make my to-do list into a table with four boxes to help me prioritise what needs to be done now and what could be done another day if I run out of time. Otherwise I just take a sticky note or piece of paper and make a standard list.

It’s so satisfying to cross thing off of a to-do list when you’ve completed them, and it also makes sure you don’t forget to do something you need to do.

Countdown timer

Something I’ve been starting to do recently is set a timer when I’m doing revision/homework. My lessons at college last for 1 hour 30 minutes with 15 minute breaks in between so I’ve started adopting the same structure for my studying at home. I’ll set a timer for 1 hour 30 minutes using this website, take a 15 minute break then set another timer. I aim to get through 2-3 lesson-length chunks of work each day, because I don’t want to exhaust myself. It really does help to give some structure to your revision and stop you from procrastinating as you know you’ll have a 15 minute break at some point.

Taking breaks from studying helps your brain to stay focused and ensure you don’t burn yourself out, so it’s really important if you want to have a productive day. I’m writing this post in one of my 15 minute breaks, for example, just to give my brain a break from the French revision I was doing! Breaks are also a good time to get a drink and a snack, take a walk around the room and stretch out.

No distractions!

Let’s face it, we all get fed up of our parents and teachers nagging us to put our phones away and work, but we all know that it’s for the best. For many of us phone = procrastination so if we want to be productive, we need to put our phones and other technology out of sight.

If you can, study in your room and make sure you’re away from TVs and computers (unless you really need your computer to do your work), switch your phone off and put it in another room. Even better, try studying in your local public or school/college library – the atmosphere will motivate you to work as everyone around you is doing so.

You’ll find you can be so much more productive when you’re not checking Twitter every five minutes.

Music

I could go on about the benefits of studying whilst listening to music forever – it is honestly so helpful for motivating you to study and giving a “rythym” (I have no idea if I spelt that right) to your work. Of course sometimes it can be a distraction if you find yourself singing and dancing along, that’s why you have to be selective about what music you listen to and when.

If I’m doing work that doesn’t taken much concentration like writing up notes I’ll have BBC Radio 1 on in the background as it doesn’t matter so much if I lose focus a bit. Also listening to music you enjoy can help motivate you to tackle tedious tasks.

However if I’m answering exam questions or doing difficult homework, I need something a bit less distracting so I’ll listen to French radio stations such as Radio Nostalgie or Radio NRJ because I can’t understand what they’re saying unless I make a conscious effort so they tend to be less distracting.

Time management

I don’t know about you but I feel like a lot of my time is wasted during the day by things such as travelling to and from college (Google maps gladly informed me I spent over 40 hours travelling on buses last month!) or waiting for meals. For example, often I won’t bother doing any work between 5pm and 6pm, because I know I’ll have dinner sometime during that space so it’s not worth starting any work. However, I have recently made a list of “short” activities I could do to fill that time instead of just surfing the internet – things such as practising French vocab on Quizlet, planning exam questions and essays for Geography and History and testing myself on flashcards. These things only take around 5-10 minutes and they are really useful to make sure you are constantly refreshing and testing yourself on things you are revising to input them into your long-term memory. If you commute to school or college like me, you could make a list of things you could do on public transport – Quizlet for example has a mobile app so you can take your flashcard apps anywhere and study on the go. Or if you do languages like me, you could listen to a foreign radio station on your phone whilst travelling to practice listening skills. Being productive is all about using your time wisely!

So that concludes my tips on how to spend each day productively. I hope you’ve found some of these tips useful, and as always share any tips of your own in the comments!

Good luck!