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Getting the grades for Oxford Watch

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    Hi everyone!

    So I thought I'd have a go at doing a blog to get myself motivated and stop procrastinating!
    I was amazed to get an offer from Oxford for Experimental Psychology, so now 'all' I've got to do is get A*AA in my A-levels...
    Hopefully writing this is going to help me get motivated but I'd also love to help out anyone who wants some revision tips if you need any!

    Firstly though, a bit about me:
    So I'm Amy, I go to a pretty average state school which normally has a couple of Oxbridge offers a year. I've done pretty well academically but I've always struggled with getting the motivation to work hard, and previously I've gotten away with putting in minimal effort to get decent grades. I'm quite an energetic, outdoorsy type of person and I love sport and otherwise being out with friends so sitting in revising is a nightmare!! I did well in my GCSEs with 10 A*s and 3 As, and after doing the UNIQ summer school and getting pretty good ASs (AABB) I decided to apply for Oxford for Experimental Psychology. I was surprised firstly to be invited for interview and even more shocked to get an offer from Brasenose college. So now I have to get my offer of A*AA, and having coasted through my GCSE's and AS's I'm determined to get these grades rather than missing out on the fantastic opportunity I've got. I loved staying at Oxford and the interview process so to not meet my offer because I didn't work hard enough would be gutting. I'm doing this because writing about my study habits is hopefully going to help me work harder to get those grades!!

    My uni offers/choices
    Spoiler:
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    Brasenose College, Oxford (Experimental Psychology) - A*AA (firm)
    Bath (Psychology + placement year) - A*AA
    York (Psychology) - AAB (possible insurance - haven't decided yet!)
    Newcastle (Psychology) - AAB (possible insurance - its either Newcastle or York)
    Birmingham (Psychology & Psychological Practice masters) - still haven't heard, but I'll probably withdraw

    My A-Levels - so far...
    I'm taking psychology, maths, biology and English literature as my main A-levels, and then general studies (which is compulsory at my 6th form) and EPQ alongside. I was hoping for AAAA at AS so I was a bit disappointed with AABB, but I'm resitting core 2 in maths and unit 2 and the EMPA in biology so I'll hopefully go into the A2 exams with strong grades to help me come out with As in the end.

    My January mocks went OK:
    Spoiler:
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    Psychology PSYA3 - A*English Lit - ABiology unit 4 - A* (but I had already done the paper as practice so I'm not really counting that!).Maths core 3 - DGeneral (AS) - AA

    I'm happy with the way they're going so far but obviously maths was a real disappointment, so I'll be working hardest on that until I'm happier with the stuff I need for core 3.
    What do I want to get in the Summer? Obviously I need that A*AA, but I'm aiming for A*s in psychology and English Lit and at least As - hopefully better - in maths and biology. My predicted grades are A*A*AA with A/A* in general and EPQ but if I can do better that'd be awesome!

    My revision plan - so far
    Since maths is my biggest issue at the moment I'm going to spend some concentrated time working on core 3 to try and improve my confidence doing questions so I can then start going through past papers.
    I'm going to start making some revision materials! I like cue cards for psychology, long answer biology questions and maths formulas etc. Basically anything that you can bullet point (I LOVE bullet points). I also like pretty spider diagrams and condensing all my notes so I can remember certain cue words. I need to start making a booklet with quotes I can use in the English exam, so that's quite a nice little thing to do as I go along.
    I'm still be finishing the content learning in all the subjects, but as I go along I'm going to be doing revision of what we've already covered, including every single past paper there's ever been for biology and maths! Go hard or go home...

    How I plan to know my stuff inside out
    So the way I like to learn the science based stuff (but you can also apply it to humanities subjects!) is following this structure:
    1. Learning - making notes in class, reading the textbook, finding online sources etc.
    2. Understanding - make sure you actually understand what you're writing down. If you don't get it, ask your teacher to go over it again, read about it somewhere else, get a friend to explain it - there's going to be one explanation that you understand! I like to test my understanding by doing summary questions in the text book, or by teaching it to someone else.
    3. Practicing - so once you understand something you should be able to apply it to different situations. I do a load of practice questions, the more you do the easier it gets! If you consistently struggle, go back to the basics and make sure you definitely understand the topic. For essays, planning and writing the essays is really helpful in getting the right sort of content and structure.
    4. Revising - There's loads of information you need to remember so whatever works best for you! I like cue cards for questions that can be split into points, and condensing information or using acronyms is also really good for remembering specific information.
    5. Past papers - it's best to do these in timed conditions without using your notes so you can see exactly what you know. Afterwards, you can go back over it and see where you went wrong, for example you couldn't remember the topic, you didn't use a key word, you hadn't read the question properly etc. You can write down which topics you need to revise more and which you need to completely go back over and check your understanding.
    6. Ace your exams - I'm lucky in that I'm pretty chilled about exams, but if you go in feeling confident that you have done all the preparation you can then you will do better than doing last minute cramming (my mistake at AS!)

    The serious work starts now...
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    Good luck!
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    Woo! Great start to your blog- Experimental Psychology sounds really interesting! What made you want to do this subject over plain old Psychology?

    Maths is a tricky one- have you been into the Maths forum at all? There's lots of very smart and useful people in there eager to help out if you have any queries about revision
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    (Original post by Tank Girl)
    Woo! Great start to your blog- Experimental Psychology sounds really interesting! What made you want to do this subject over plain old Psychology?

    Maths is a tricky one- have you been into the Maths forum at all? There's lots of very smart and useful people in there eager to help out if you have any queries about revision
    Thanks! I wanted to do a psychology degree anyway and I did the UNIQ summer school in experimental psychology which I loved, and that was what made me want to go to Oxford.

    I'll check out the maths forum, hopefully by summer I'll be confident I can get the grade I need!
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    So it's half term and I'm cracking down on maths so I can start getting better grades in past papers! I'm going to aim to complete 2 or 3 miscellaneous question sets at the end of the chapters, so that means today I've been working on transformations, functions and exponential growth and decay.

    I found the transformations questions fine but I struggled with the range and domain questions in functions - it's something we learnt last Summer and I think I must have missed some lessons because I couldn't remember what method to find them at all! I spent some time on examsolutions watching the videos and looking through the text book so I understood how to do it and then I worked through the questions, which were so much easier when I actually knew how to do them! It's definitely helping to just go back over things I don't understand and then do questions..

    I'm hoping to have done all the miscellaneous questions by the end of the week. We've been set a core 3 paper to do over half term so I'm going to do that when I'm done in exam conditions and see if I've improved at all! I've got a mechanics paper to do as well and a mock the day we go back but I'm less worried about that, I'll just revise the different equations etc this week and then see which areas need the most work after the mock...

    I'm out for most of the afternoon and this evening so I'm probably not going to get much else done today but I'll just spend some extra time tomorrow on another subject - I want to aim to average 5/6 hours of revision on days away from school which is what I think I need but it's going to be hard - procrastination is my worst enemy!!
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    It's the Thursday of half term and I haven't got as much done as I hoped I would thanks to loads of other stuff I've ended up doing this week *sigh*. I have made some good progress with my core 3 maths though, I've gotten up to the trig section of questions and I'm able to do the questions much quicker and apply methods much more easily than before so that's a big improvement!! There were some questions I still got stuck on so I've highlighted them to ask my teacher about when I get a moment. I'm going to have a go at the past paper this evening and then spend the last 3 days doing all the other revision work I wanted to do!!

    I'd really recommend this method of revising for maths for a couple of reasons. Firstly, they say the best way to improve your maths is to practice and well, I'm definitely doing that!! Secondly, you have the answers in the back but no mark scheme like for past papers - I'm guilty of looking at the mark scheme when I get stuck which doesn't really help in the long run, this way I have to stick at it until I can get the right answer (also, show me questions don't have any explanation so I have to use my brain more like I would in the actual exam!!). Finally, a lot of the questions are past exam questions or based on them, so it's good to practice these types of questions without using up all the past papers - that way, closer to the exam I can do one or two past papers a week and hopefully not run out.

    One of the reasons I didn't get much done yesterday was because I was at at York Uni offer holders day, which I'm considering as my insurance choice alongside Newcastle. I enjoyed it and I liked the uni but I just felt so at home at Oxford in comparison. It's really motivated me to get those grades I need!!

    I hope everyone else's revision has been going ok - hopefully you've managed to get more done than I have so far! I'm looking forward to having a bit of a break from maths tomorrow, whilst it's nice to feel like I'm improving I feel like I've been doing a lot the past few days.. :boring:
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    So I took a break from maths and made some psychology cue cards for PSYA3, with an example question for the topic on one side then bullet points for all the AO1 and AO2/3 on the other. I've colour coordinated (they've got to look pretty ofc ) for the 3 different topics and my plan for using them is to start off by sitting down and recalling the points on random questions when I've got a spare moment, then when I can do that well start sitting down and writing the essay from memory.If anyone else is reading this and you're doing psychology A level I really recommend looking at loopa.co.uk - it's a brilliant site with free revision materials and you can also buy books with model essays which is great for getting extra detail for your AO1 and more AO2 points. It helped me go from consistently getting As in practice essays to getting an A* more recently - yay!I had a go at the core 3 past paper we'd been set and still struggled, which was really annoying as I thought I'd improved after the work I'd done this week. I did get through it though without using the mark scheme and I think I had some improvement from the mock, so it's a start. I'm going to try and do one paper a week because I think that's the sort of practice I need now.I've got an M1 mock tomorrow, so I've prepared for that by going over the equations and methods I need to know and then doing the june 2011 paper as practice which went pretty well. Nothing like a mock first day back..
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    Mechanics mock went well today I think! There was one question which I wasn't sure on but I felt pretty confident with the rest so feeling positive about getting the marks back.

    I've spent tonight annotating one of the stories in the Bloody Chamber for English Lit, and I've gone back over my coursework for the deadline for tomorrow making sure it's how I want it to be. I've then done a couple more cue cards for PSYA3 and done a end of chapter test for core 4 (chapter 2 - further integration)

    93 days until my first exam - Core 2 resit..
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    A positive revision day today! Firstly I got the result of my core 3 mock resit back - I got a C! I know it's not the A I need but I was only 10 marks off an A and 12 marks better than my first mock so a step in the right direction at least. It's made me feel a lot better about this exam so I'm going to carry on doing core 3 past papers and then hopefully I'll ace the real thing!

    Tonight I've been doing some revision for PSYA4 in the research methods questions. I've been going back over the AS research methods stuff and checking I still know it all, and then writing out any definitions/advantages/disadvantages etc so I've got some clear A2 notes on this.

    Reading back over my revision habits the past week has made me realise my revision isn't very organised - I'm going to spend some time at the weekend making a weekly timetable with which subjects I want to revise each day, and then as I go along I can add which topics I want to cover that night/how I'm going to revise. If I can figure out how and if it's any good I'll put it on here!

    92 DAYS UNTIL THE FIRST EXAM
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    Congrats on your Oxford offer!! Well done with your Maths resit too!
    Just had to comment. I'll definitely be following your blog!
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    (Original post by Ara8311a)
    Congrats on your Oxford offer!! Well done with your Maths resit too!
    Just had to comment. I'll definitely be following your blog!
    Thank you! I've just got everything crossed I get the grades now
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    (Original post by tryingandfailing)
    Thank you! I've just got everything crossed I get the grades now
    I'm sure you will!
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    I spent this evening finishing making cue cards for PSYA3, so now I can start use them! I've realised I need to start working on biology, including going over unit 2 from AS which I'm resitting. I reread over my notes and the textbook then answered the summary questions and practice questions from the textbook for the first 2 chapters (variation, DNA & meiosis). I'm going to hopefully work through all the textbook questions in the next couple of weeks so I can remind myself of what I need to know and then I can start work on some past papers. I'm also going to start doing unit 4 past papers - when I draw up my study plan I'm going to allocate a day to do past papers on for each subject so I'll be doing one a week (for English Lit I'll probably plan an essay and practice writing it - hopefully my teacher will mark them!)

    91 days to go...
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    My psychology cue cards - 22 of 'em!
    Name:  image1 (1).JPG
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Size:  107.8 KB (apologies I cba turning it the right way up..)
    Questions on one side, theory/A01 in black and then A02/3 in green or red depending on whether it supports the theory or not.

    Time to get learning them all now!
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    So my laptop died on Thursday which is why I've been quiet for a couple of days, but it's been fixed now so back to blogging!

    Firstly, some good news - I got an A in my mechanics mock, with 85 UMS! I'm really happy with that, I ended up doing 2 practice papers the day before and it really helped me understand the questions and what I needed to do. I'm going to put mechanics aside for a bit and focus on core 3&4 because those are what I find harder, but I'll keep up with my revision by doing a past paper every 2 or 3 weeks.

    I've spent the last couple of days just doing some basic biology revision, answering the summary questions in the textbook and reading back over my notes. I've also started memorizing the essays for PSYA3, as we have another mock coming up in a couple of weeks. So far I'm pretty good with most of the biorhythms essays but I need to do some more practice on the aggression and eating behaviour ones.

    As promised I've drawn up a revision timetable which I thought I'd share. My plan is to fill in at the start of the week what topics I want to cover during the week (or I can say what sort of revision I want to do, such as a past paper), then fill in how much time I've spent revising them. At the weekends I can then see which subjects I maybe spent less time on, got less covered or struggled with and spend extra time on that at the weekend. I'll trial it from now and see how it goes!
    https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B6y...ew?usp=sharing
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    First day trying out my new revision timetable, so today was maths. I spent about an hour doing some core 4 work for chapters 1 & 3 and then I completed the june 2007 core 3 past paper. I'm starting to find the core 3 stuff easier now I've done some more practice of it so I'm just going to keep on with the past papers.

    86 DAYS NOW!!
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    I did a bit less biology revision than I was hoping today thanks to an EPQ activity log check up tomorrow so I had to get that all up to date - EPQ was the worst decision ever, especially since I forgot to put it on my UCAS qualifications so it hasn't really helped me..
    But anyway, I wrote up some notes on muscle contraction and then answered summary questions in the textbook for the first 2 unit 5 chapters in the textbook to check my understanding.
    I'm feeling a bit worried about biology unit 5 at the moment, especially with all the DNA stuff. I feel like I've made notes in the lessons and stuff but none of the information's actually gone in! My plan to improve that is to rewrite all my notes so I've been through everything again, then do all the textbook summary questions before trying some past papers.

    85 days..
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    English lit today, we were given a useful couple of A3 sheets with grids for some key aspects of the bloody chamber stories, including plot synopsis, characterisation, settings, gothic elements and key quotes which was useful to fill in for my revision. English for me is a weird subject to revise and not something I've ever really revised properly before. The A2 exam is closed book so I need to remember a bunch of quotes though as well as all the key ideas and stuff, which makes it harder. I spent tonight revising 3 stories: The Bloody Chamber, The Courtship of Mr Lyon and The Lady of the House of Love. The hardest thing is definitely going to be remembering all the quotes..

    84 days, keeping myself positive!
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    I just wrote a post and it's disappeared, so if this is the second one apologies - technology hates me..
    Today was supposed to be psychology revision but my teachers aren't in for our double lesson tomorrow so I thought I'd switch and do AS revision today and psych tomorrow. I used the 2007 core 2 paper and went through, doing the questions I could remember the stuff for (how did I ever think core 2 trig was hard? HOW?) and then looking up, revising, practicing the topics I couldn't, like geometric sequences and also logs that aren't 'ln's (if that makes sense, ha). I also spent a bit of time doing some annotations and work for English lit - our teacher didn't turn up, and I had the stuff so I though I might as well do some extra work and find a few more quotes to memorise! I didn't do any AS biology though, so I'll do some of that tomorrow evening.

    83 days until core 2, I still can't get over how this was the one I was worrying about last year - maybe I should be learning further maths so core 3 seems easy?!
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    Hello! I'm also called Amy and would love to do a psychology degree in the future! I was just wondering if you had any voluntary work or work experience to do with any aspect of psychology as I am struggling to think of things that are possible to do? Congratulations on your offers and good luck! Xxx
 
 
 
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