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Bad AS results to great A2/A-levels results - success stories? Watch

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    (Original post by Ehawks)
    Hey everyone,

    I remember reading these when I was in some of your positions and now I'm pleased that I can not only be one of the success stories, but hopefully motivate everyone.

    At AS, I got CEE in Geography, Economics and Philosophy and I managed to pull these grades up to AAB and hold an unconditional confirmed place starting next year!

    It is therefore definitely possible for anybody, especially given that my AS results were a wake up call, as I have been notoriously lazy, so for anybody willing to work hard, it is certainly possible. I'd suggest working smartly rather than hard. By this, I mean don't overdo it. I completely burned out during my exams and I panicked as a result and was finding it hard to revise.

    Revision tips

    You've probably heard them all before, but I finally took the advice and it paid off in the end.

    - Identify what type of learner you are - it will be counterproductive making revision cards if you're not suited to this type of revision.

    - Keep it simple - I burned out because I overcomplicated it and got muddled. Some people can just listen to recordings of themselves reading notes, while others like to draw mind maps and paragraphs. I personally thought I learn best by revision cards and mind maps, but I spent too much time making it look pretty and not getting anything out of it. My revision in the end, consisted of typed up notes, which I would scribble down from memory and then would write them down again really randomly, as well as past papers, examiner's reports and mark schemes. It didn't look pretty by the end, but it scruffy writing on lined pads seemed to work in the end. I'd therefore sample some revision methods now.

    - Ask questions where you're not sure. I think my teachers are sick of me now exams are over, but it was useful because some things you don't understand might just be your grade changing questions. They may also have sample answers and other useful resources. They can also mark your papers harshly and identify where you need to improve. If you're in the position of self-teaching or teachers you don't like, start or find a thread on student room and discuss it with people and also help them out - it really helps.

    - Don't just do past papers - read examiner's reports. They are essentially a guide to what the examiner wants and there's no point doing past papers and continuously making mark-costing errors. You'll notice in examiner's reports whiny comments, saying 'Students continuously make this error' - don't be that person. I found it useful highlighting and making my own aims and comments aside these. Additionally, the examining boards are likely to test on where students keep making errors, so it helps you prepare more for exams when doing last minute revision. I accurately predicted most of the questions, but don't swear by this, as they might throw a spanner in the works. Reports are probably why I went from an E on a couple of papers to A*s.

    - Focus on what you don't understand - going over something you know inside out will not gain you anymore marks. Sort out what you don't know and you will gain marks.

    - Learn mark schemes - you'll know how to structure and will be able to identify themes and patterns. I also wrote a brief mark scheme in my exams and ticked off once I had covered aspects. It keeps it simple for the examiner to read.

    - Super foods - I binged on bananas, blueberries and apples and noticed a difference in concentration. Also, keep hydrated.

    - Gum - chewing gum during revision and during the exam seemed to help me concentrate.

    - Make a realistic timetable - if you're not going to revise for 8 hours a day solidly, then don't put it down. You'll feel like you're underachieving, behind on revision and panic as a result, meaning you still can't take all of that information in. There's no point in me saying 'revise for 20 minutes, break, 20 minutes' or 'revise for 2 hours per subject'. Everybody is different - sample and see what works best for you. It's not a competition to see who can do the most revision. I revised about 2 papers a day maximum and would only do the groundwork up to about 40 minutes per session, followed by a 20 minute break, where I would go for a walk. I would spend mornings on one paper and afternoons on the other. Past papers obviously took longer. Also, if you start getting tired and not taking anymore information in, it's time to put the books down.

    - Lastly, be strong but give yourself rewards - if you're doing it right and don't find yourself in a blind panic, I highly recommend a day of two off each week, but not next to each other (Wednesday and a Saturday), as you might become lazy, and use those days to let your hair down. There is nothing better than going out with friends on the weekends knowing you're on top of your revision. In the same breath, don't overdo it in regards to social life. If your friends are constantly nagging you to go out and you know that you need to revise, then say no. At the end of the day, this is your future, not their's and real friends will respect that and on results day, when you log on to UCAS and see a place is confirmed at your dream university, you know that saying no to excessive partying during exams was truly worth it! A few weeks versus the rest of your life - you choose!

    Hope this helps and feel free to PM me if you want anymore advice, particularly regarding personal statements, applications and revision!
    Thanks so much for posting this! I got ACCDE at AS and am now continuing to A2 and hoping bring up that E to a C by taking some resits, this really makes me think I can do it! XD

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    (Original post by lozasaurus99)
    I saw someone on LinkedIn who went from reading uni to do a postgraduate Uni of Oxford..don't be such a snob

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    Seems like an anomaly to me.
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    (Original post by Ehawks)
    Hey everyone,

    I remember reading these when I was in some of your positions and now I'm pleased that I can not only be one of the success stories, but hopefully motivate everyone.

    At AS, I got CEE in Geography, Economics and Philosophy and I managed to pull these grades up to AAB and hold an unconditional confirmed place starting next year!

    It is therefore definitely possible for anybody, especially given that my AS results were a wake up call, as I have been notoriously lazy, so for anybody willing to work hard, it is certainly possible. I'd suggest working smartly rather than hard. By this, I mean don't overdo it. I completely burned out during my exams and I panicked as a result and was finding it hard to revise.

    Revision tips

    You've probably heard them all before, but I finally took the advice and it paid off in the end.

    - Identify what type of learner you are - it will be counterproductive making revision cards if you're not suited to this type of revision.

    - Keep it simple - I burned out because I overcomplicated it and got muddled. Some people can just listen to recordings of themselves reading notes, while others like to draw mind maps and paragraphs. I personally thought I learn best by revision cards and mind maps, but I spent too much time making it look pretty and not getting anything out of it. My revision in the end, consisted of typed up notes, which I would scribble down from memory and then would write them down again really randomly, as well as past papers, examiner's reports and mark schemes. It didn't look pretty by the end, but it scruffy writing on lined pads seemed to work in the end. I'd therefore sample some revision methods now.

    - Ask questions where you're not sure. I think my teachers are sick of me now exams are over, but it was useful because some things you don't understand might just be your grade changing questions. They may also have sample answers and other useful resources. They can also mark your papers harshly and identify where you need to improve. If you're in the position of self-teaching or teachers you don't like, start or find a thread on student room and discuss it with people and also help them out - it really helps.

    - Don't just do past papers - read examiner's reports. They are essentially a guide to what the examiner wants and there's no point doing past papers and continuously making mark-costing errors. You'll notice in examiner's reports whiny comments, saying 'Students continuously make this error' - don't be that person. I found it useful highlighting and making my own aims and comments aside these. Additionally, the examining boards are likely to test on where students keep making errors, so it helps you prepare more for exams when doing last minute revision. I accurately predicted most of the questions, but don't swear by this, as they might throw a spanner in the works. Reports are probably why I went from an E on a couple of papers to A*s.

    - Focus on what you don't understand - going over something you know inside out will not gain you anymore marks. Sort out what you don't know and you will gain marks.

    - Learn mark schemes - you'll know how to structure and will be able to identify themes and patterns. I also wrote a brief mark scheme in my exams and ticked off once I had covered aspects. It keeps it simple for the examiner to read.

    - Super foods - I binged on bananas, blueberries and apples and noticed a difference in concentration. Also, keep hydrated.

    - Gum - chewing gum during revision and during the exam seemed to help me concentrate.

    - Make a realistic timetable - if you're not going to revise for 8 hours a day solidly, then don't put it down. You'll feel like you're underachieving, behind on revision and panic as a result, meaning you still can't take all of that information in. There's no point in me saying 'revise for 20 minutes, break, 20 minutes' or 'revise for 2 hours per subject'. Everybody is different - sample and see what works best for you. It's not a competition to see who can do the most revision. I revised about 2 papers a day maximum and would only do the groundwork up to about 40 minutes per session, followed by a 20 minute break, where I would go for a walk. I would spend mornings on one paper and afternoons on the other. Past papers obviously took longer. Also, if you start getting tired and not taking anymore information in, it's time to put the books down.

    - Lastly, be strong but give yourself rewards - if you're doing it right and don't find yourself in a blind panic, I highly recommend a day of two off each week, but not next to each other (Wednesday and a Saturday), as you might become lazy, and use those days to let your hair down. There is nothing better than going out with friends on the weekends knowing you're on top of your revision. In the same breath, don't overdo it in regards to social life. If your friends are constantly nagging you to go out and you know that you need to revise, then say no. At the end of the day, this is your future, not their's and real friends will respect that and on results day, when you log on to UCAS and see a place is confirmed at your dream university, you know that saying no to excessive partying during exams was truly worth it! A few weeks versus the rest of your life - you choose!

    Hope this helps and feel free to PM me if you want anymore advice, particularly regarding personal statements, applications and revision!
    Thanks!

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    (Original post by Itsmonique)
    I'm going to retake my English language to get a B overall, as the majority of universities want a B in English and Maths GCSE for the course that I am applying for. The exam officer then went on to say how even getting the B in English won't increase my chances in getting an offer at university! With the course that I want to apply for at least ABB-AAB. Then he went on to say how unis won't give me an offer because of my AS grades (BBBC). I was so upset but I am glad that my head of sixth form was there to witness this. Apparently I should only apply to universities that want applicants to have BBB-CCC.


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    Don't listen to exam officers, they seriously have a bad reputation for trying their best to make students lives harder. First of all, you've got the grades to get predicted at least AAA, and maybe with a few retakes, you can go for the A*s. Work hard and apply for the Unis you believe you have a strong chance of going for, and with those predicted grades- Im pretty sure you can get into the Russell Groups. If your exam officer decides to speak to you and tell you that nonsense, laugh at him. Being condescending to a professional when you're in the right is the best way to be insulting! Work hard and prove them wrong! What a levels are you doing?


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    (Original post by ShafTJB)
    Don't listen to exam officers, they seriously have a bad reputation for trying their best to make students lives harder. First of all, you've got the grades to get predicted at least AAA, and maybe with a few retakes, you can go for the A*s. Work hard and apply for the Unis you believe you have a strong chance of going for, and with those predicted grades- Im pretty sure you can get into the Russell Groups. If your exam officer decides to speak to you and tell you that nonsense, laugh at him. Being condescending to a professional when you're in the right is the best way to be insulting! Work hard and prove them wrong! What a levels are you doing?


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    Thank you for the advice. I spoke to an ex student who told me that people would put her down because she was applying to Cambridge. She needed A*AA but ended up with A*AB instead, got rejected from Cambridge on results day but she called them up and eventually got a place to study law. She starts her third year on Thursday. This gives me hope that I just have to work hard to get the grades that I need.
    My subjects are Maths, Chemistry and Psychology. I'll admit I didn't get the best grades at GCSE! ABBBBCCCCC
    But I'm determined to prove them wrong. My head of sixth form complained, so the assistant head teacher said that the school will pay for my English retake. Which is really nice of them. I'm proud of my AS results because I worked so hard for them, whilst most people in my sixth form just messed about. I was surprised because in assembly yesterday my head of sixth form said that in my year group there were 80 U grades, the majority of them from sciences, which was shocking as we have two chemistry teachers who really know their stuff when it comes to chemistry. I'm planning to retake 3 exams overall, gonna aim for A/A* in chemistry


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    Didnt go to sixth form/college because of a family crisis, decided to just buy textbooks for sociology and RS and self teach them the following year. Sat AS and A2 in 1 year, found out I got A* and an A this August, so decided to go to college this year. Doing History and English lit, and applying to Cambridge (with extenuating circumstances)
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    (Original post by Itsmonique)
    Thank you for the advice. I spoke to an ex student who told me that people would put her down because she was applying to Cambridge. She needed A*AA but ended up with A*AB instead, got rejected from Cambridge on results day but she called them up and eventually got a place to study law. She starts her third year on Thursday. This gives me hope that I just have to work hard to get the grades that I need.
    My subjects are Maths, Chemistry and Psychology. I'll admit I didn't get the best grades at GCSE! ABBBBCCCCC
    But I'm determined to prove them wrong. My head of sixth form complained, so the assistant head teacher said that the school will pay for my English retake. Which is really nice of them. I'm proud of my AS results because I worked so hard for them, whilst most people in my sixth form just messed about. I was surprised because in assembly yesterday my head of sixth form said that in my year group there were 80 U grades, the majority of them from sciences, which was shocking as we have two chemistry teachers who really know their stuff when it comes to chemistry. I'm planning to retake 3 exams overall, gonna aim for A/A* in chemistry


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    You have a very good attitude. Yeah seriously work your ass off. I come from a really disadvantaged school, who aim really low. I did my Alevels a year early, first time round I got BCCC but then worked a little harder and came out of A2s with AAB. I'm now on a gap year teaching myself further maths A2. Work pays off, it really does, just make sure you know your specification for your modules back to front like everything is riding on it! Once you do, you should be sorted to getting them grades. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.


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    (Original post by Ehawks)
    Sure. I did Geography, Economics and Philosophy! You doing any of those?
    no


    How did you manage to balance both A2 and AS? Also how many exams did you take?
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    (Original post by ShafTJB)
    You have a very good attitude. Yeah seriously work your ass off. I come from a really disadvantaged school, who aim really low. I did my Alevels a year early, first time round I got BCCC but then worked a little harder and came out of A2s with AAB. I'm now on a gap year teaching myself further maths A2. Work pays off, it really does, just make sure you know your specification for your modules back to front like everything is riding on it! Once you do, you should be sorted to getting them grades. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.


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    I am in a similar position you were at AS. I really need As at A2 for all 3 of my subjects. I am planning to take a gap year and maybe study extra stuff and work with some volunteering.

    How did you turn those C's into A's?
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    (Original post by rakib567)
    I am in a similar position you were at AS. I really need As at A2 for all 3 of my subjects. I am planning to take a gap year and maybe study extra stuff and work with some volunteering.

    How did you turn those C's into A's?
    I retook all my AS modules, which wasn't really hard seeing as A2s were an extension of AS, so there was little need to stress about revising for the AS when the content came up in A2 anyway. AS becomes really simple after A2 too. In order to smash my A2 units, I worked bloody hard. Everyday I was taking a part of my spec and reading it until i understand what I had to do. With Maths, it's practice. With Economics and Physics, its the actual understanding.
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    (Original post by rakib567)
    no


    How did you manage to balance both A2 and AS? Also how many exams did you take?
    Magic!

    I joke. Well when you get to A2, you'll find that AS stuff becomes rather easy, so you almost find it a bit of a breather! My tactic was to do a little bit of AS revision everyday but focus on my A2 exams as they're more demanding.

    My typical revision day would be quite disorganised but that's because I revised when I felt like it and I gradually got into a routine! That's why it's so important to start early because you gradually ease into it! When I got a routine, which took me about 3 weeks, I would revise one paper in the morning from about 10-1, with regular breaks, then 2-5 on paper 2. These were normally A2 papers and then I'd have pre written cards and revise AS stuff for about an hour a day over a longer period so I didn't have to cram. I then turned my focus to approaching exams and would focus on AS for 2-3 weeks with minimal A2 revision, but this was because I had covered the A2 content, so after AS it was just a case of doing past papers, reports and mark schemes with light reading in the evenings!

    With a university place at stake, you feel the pressure to do well but also highly motivated!

    I did 10 exams overall for 3 subjects, so essentially I did every paper apart from two which I didn't necessarily have to resit. It was hard going fitting it all in. For the record, in my last sitting, I went from Cs, Ds and Es to straight As, a couple of A*s and a couple of Bs. I was incredibly proud of myself.

    If I could go back and do it differently, I'd have all my brief notes written by Christmas (a decent textbook is all you really need tbh and some extra reading for humanities subject when you can't remember other core aspects), then in the New Year, I'd revise the content until March and then just be on past papers. I started writing notes in February and it became a little bit of a panic at the end admittedly!

    What subjects are you doing? And in regards to university - there is no rush to apply! What did you get for AS? (sorry if you've already said!) hope I'm helping!!
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    (Original post by Damien_Dalgaard)
    Why did your teachers predict you an A when you got a D at AS.

    No January exams unless with CIE.

    3 grades higher

    Extenuating circumstances?
    Yeah, I have extenuating circumstances but she doesn't know about them. I got BBU and the U I got A's in all of my mocks so I'm retaking that, also I was 1ums away from a C so it isn't really three full grades higher.
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    (Original post by rakib567)
    no


    How did you manage to balance both A2 and AS? Also how many exams did you take?
    and also, sorry, quite crucially, I'd try and finish the content for the closer papers first, so I could organise my time well.

    In practice, this would mean that, for instance, Economics Unit 3 would dominate my slots over a couple of weeks and I wouldn't have started my last paper. Then once Economics Unit 3 was finished, I'd focus on the next papers and gradually start the next. Hope you know what I mean! I didn't do an advanced revision plan (over the course of 3 months). I'd have a checklist for each paper of what I'd need to cover. I then did a revision plan weekly and referring to my checklist, I was able to identify where my attention needed to focus! It's also realistic because your friend may organise a birthday event, so you know that can be your reward and you can work around that and the weekly plan prepares you for surprises. Don't work it to start at the latest date possible - sometimes you won't feel like revising and sometimes things might jump up, like a job interview or a taster day. I had a 2 week gap until my A2 exams and the week after AS I felt so exhausted that I didn't revise for a week (that's when I burned out) but because I had covered everything early, it wasn't too bad. It worked for me and I don't agree with 4 month revision plans, but kudos to anybody who can stick to it!

    Work through it though! I had times where I was contemplating not turning up because I thought I didn't know anything and I would be in a sobbing mess!

    One notable date was when I had 3 hours sleep and I had to sit a 3 hour philosophy paper followed straight after by a 2 hours economics paper as they clashed. I was a mess in the morning and I panicked so much, but I stayed calm and it worked! Those are the papers I somehow for A*s on.

    The biggest factor for me was CONFIDENCE! You may find yourself a bit short on revision on a couple of papers, but don't panic. I knew I'd revised the majority and felt confident and because of this, I didn't panic and went in with a positive mind. Going to an exam thinking "I don't know this" will reflect!
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    (Original post by Ehawks)
    Magic!

    I joke. Well when you get to A2, you'll find that AS stuff becomes rather easy, so you almost find it a bit of a breather! My tactic was to do a little bit of AS revision everyday but focus on my A2 exams as they're more demanding.

    My typical revision day would be quite disorganised but that's because I revised when I felt like it and I gradually got into a routine! That's why it's so important to start early because you gradually ease into it! When I got a routine, which took me about 3 weeks, I would revise one paper in the morning from about 10-1, with regular breaks, then 2-5 on paper 2. These were normally A2 papers and then I'd have pre written cards and revise AS stuff for about an hour a day over a longer period so I didn't have to cram. I then turned my focus to approaching exams and would focus on AS for 2-3 weeks with minimal A2 revision, but this was because I had covered the A2 content, so after AS it was just a case of doing past papers, reports and mark schemes with light reading in the evenings!

    With a university place at stake, you feel the pressure to do well but also highly motivated!

    I did 10 exams overall for 3 subjects, so essentially I did every paper apart from two which I didn't necessarily have to resit. It was hard going fitting it all in. For the record, in my last sitting, I went from Cs, Ds and Es to straight As, a couple of A*s and a couple of Bs. I was incredibly proud of myself.

    If I could go back and do it differently, I'd have all my brief notes written by Christmas (a decent textbook is all you really need tbh and some extra reading for humanities subject when you can't remember other core aspects), then in the New Year, I'd revise the content until March and then just be on past papers. I started writing notes in February and it became a little bit of a panic at the end admittedly!

    What subjects are you doing? And in regards to university - there is no rush to apply! What did you get for AS? (sorry if you've already said!) hope I'm helping!!

    I am Doing Chem, Bio and Maths which i got Cs on

    This year i am understanding and making notes ahead of the class so that when it comes to lesson i know everything. The recent "mini tests" i did i got above 90% in all. I am finding Chem easiest and bio and maths are not too bad.

    I plan to finish the whole A2 syllabus by Mid-December and revise AS just by re-reading the textbook and doing the exam questions from old papers which are at the back of the textbook. All of this will be done by December. After December i will be doing all of the papers that exist from Jan 2001 to Jun 2014 (that's about 26 papers per unit) until the end of April. Then i would leave 1 week for my Science Practicals and do my exams.

    Within the month of December and January i will be also revising my Statistics module and my 1/2 of my Physics Unit 2 module (1/2 is already covered in Maths anyway ;P) Then do papers from Jan 2001 until April-May time.

    So from Sept-Dec is to understand whole content, From Jan-May Do past papers and revise content if forgotten)


    What do you think?:rolleyes:
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    Those success stories are good if they are actually true.
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    (Original post by rakib567)
    I am Doing Chem, Bio and Maths which i got Cs on

    This year i am understanding and making notes ahead of the class so that when it comes to lesson i know everything. The recent "mini tests" i did i got above 90% in all. I am finding Chem easiest and bio and maths are not too bad.

    I plan to finish the whole A2 syllabus by Mid-December and revise AS just by re-reading the textbook and doing the exam questions from old papers which are at the back of the textbook. All of this will be done by December. After December i will be doing all of the papers that exist from Jan 2001 to Jun 2014 (that's about 26 papers per unit) until the end of April. Then i would leave 1 week for my Science Practicals and do my exams.

    Within the month of December and January i will be also revising my Statistics module and my 1/2 of my Physics Unit 2 module (1/2 is already covered in Maths anyway ;P) Then do papers from Jan 2001 until April-May time.

    So from Sept-Dec is to understand whole content, From Jan-May Do past papers and revise content if forgotten)


    What do you think?:rolleyes:
    Sounds wicked! If you can stick to it, then you're in for a good chance of decent grades! With that also, you have a chance to have a bit of a life on the side too!

    How many exams are you doing?
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    (Original post by lozasaurus99)
    I saw someone on LinkedIn who went from reading uni to do a postgraduate Uni of Oxford..don't be such a snob

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    That's hardly surprising. Oxbridge excels at the undergraduate level, not particularly at the postgraduate level. In general, postgraduate courses aren't anywhere near as competitive as undergraduate degrees, and there are certain niche areas of postgraduate study where there practically isn't any competition. When you get to the postgraduate level it becomes all about the performance of a particular department (occasionally, the performance of a certain area of a department) and the potential supervisor. This is why you have people who rank top of their year at Oxford and Cambridge going off to do their post-graduate at universities perceived to be significantly 'worse' than Oxford/Cambridge - because they can better cater to their specific academic requirements.
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    Whats easier sociology or psychology ?


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    (Original post by Ehawks)
    Sounds wicked! If you can stick to it, then you're in for a good chance of decent grades! With that also, you have a chance to have a bit of a life on the side too!

    How many exams are you doing?


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    Life will come in the gap year... Right now my days are like

    Wake up - go to school - come home- eat- study - eat- go to sleep
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    (Original post by rakib567)
    15
    Life will come in the gap year... Right now my days are like

    Wake up - go to school - come home- eat- study - eat- go to sleep
    Ouch! I thought I had it tough!

    Yup - that sounds very similar to what my day consisted of, but it will be so worth it in the end!

    Are you applying to university this year, if so, which?
 
 
 
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