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    Hi, I'm Scott, and welcome to my 2017 GYG! I'm currently retaking some A-Level exams whilst working from home, with the aim to get into vet school this September. I'm hoping that by documenting my experience, and (hopefully) achieving my goals, I can motivate myself and encourage others who may be forced to take a less than ideal path into the world of veterinary medicine.

    My specific interests in the field of veterinary medicine are: genetics; reproductive medicine; soft tissue surgery; and animal behaviour. In the latter, I've studied for a diploma, which covered developmental psychology of kittens and pups, and the behaviour of common household pets. I'm also really big into conservation medicine!

    For more information on my journey thus far, see spoiler.
    Spoiler:
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    After my GCSEs in 2013 I had something of a mental breakdown. After referral to CAMHS it took me a year to pick myself up, in time to attempt sitting my AS Levels (or the two I hadn't dropped, anyway). That was big mistake #1: predictably, with only a few weeks' of class lessons under my belt, I flumped the exams and it pushed my mood right back down.

    My family and I decided the best thing for me at the time was to move to an adult learning college where I could get more support and would be surrounded by a wider range of people. During this, I started transitioning (trans guys, represent).
    The summer of 2015 my gran died smack bang in the middle of my exams, and my mood began to drop again. I fell out with my step-father and ended up temporarily living with my grandparents. Even before that, the pressures of transitioning (and avoiding certain friends and family members out of fear) had been dragging me down. Add to the mix that my mum went missing one evening and we finally found her after a suicide attempt, and looking back I'm not so surprised I didn't perform as well as I had hoped.

    My mental health yo-yo'd for the next few months before hitting rock bottom again. Following a suicide attempt in late October, I was threatened with being sectioned. I managed to surge through the period, and by the beginning of 2016 I had sorted myself out once more, had an offer for a place at Bristol to study veterinary medicine, and was doing really well in college, looking to be on course to achieve a minimum AAB. I poured my heart into my work. Lo and behold, however, things went wrong again. It looked for a while like my mum and step-father would be splitting up and we'd have to move out, and while it smoothed out in time for my exams, my physics teacher (who all us students were very fond of) passed away unexpectedly. A few weeks later, towards the end of my A2s, my uncle who I had been caring for with my grandparents died in hospital after a long battle with lung failure. Still, I thought I had done well.


    Spoiler: I didn't.

    So here I am. My college shut A Levels after June 2016, but after a lot of persuasion they decided to stay as a centre for myself to resit some exams in summer 2017. With a bit more experience under my belt, and a year to self-study my way to A*AB, I'm hoping things might actually go my way this time!




    Current Qualifications
    GCSEs (7A*, 5A)
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    Biology – A*
    Chemistry – A
    English Language – A*
    English Literature – A*
    English Media – A*
    French – A*
    Geography – A
    History – A*
    Maths – A
    Physics – A
    Religious Studies – A*
    Statistics – A



    A Level (B,C,C)
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    AQA Biology – B
    AQA Chemistry – C
    OCR Physics – C




    Hobbies & Work Experience
    When I'm not working I'm a casual gamer (Dragon Age, Skyrim, Total War, Assassin's Creed B^J aww yiss), coder, writer, and also spend a fair amount of time running, reading, and working on the farm that kept me on after my lambing work experience. I help exercise their horses and look after the flock of sheep they have.

    I love road trips and travelling, and will take any excuse for a long drive - especially with company. I am currently (since Oct '16) dating a guy who lives ~1hr from me, so we take it in turns to visit each other (or more realistically: each other's dogs). As well as studying my A Levels this year, I would like to learn a language over the summer (not sure which one yet!) and also hope to complete the Land's End to John O'Groats virtual race alongside some real-life marathons.

    Full list of WEX:
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    TOTAL: 23 weeks+


    2016:
    • Mixed Vet Practice - 2 weeks
    • Slaughterman - 1 day


    2015
    • Veterinary Internship (South Africa) - 5 weeks
    • Abattoir - 1 day
    • Lambing - 2 weeks+ (ongoing)
    • Equine - 2 weeks+ (ongoing)
    • Beef - 2 weeks+ (ongoing)


    2014:
    • SA Practice (PDSA) - ~4 weeks (over several months)
    • Dairy/Calving - ~4 weeks (over several months)


    2013
    • Mixed Vet Practice - 1 week


    2012
    • SA Practice - 1 week
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    UCAS






    University of BristolVeterinary ScienceD100 INSURANCE
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    07.12.16 OFFER RECEIVED: ABB
    30.11.16 Interview at Langford
    10.11.16 Invitation to Interview




    University of LiverpoolVeterinary ScienceD100 FIRM
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    22.12.16 OFFER RECEIVED: AAA
    28.11.16 Interview at Liverpool
    15.11.16 Invitation to Interview





    Royal Veterinary CollegeVeterinary Medicine with Intercalated BSc D101
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    22.12.16 OFFER RECEIVED: AAA
    19.12.16 Interview at Camden
    28.11.16 Invitation to Interview




    OTHER OFFERS RECEIVED:
    ■ Bioveterinary Sciences - UoL, ABB
    ■ Bioveterinary Sciences - RVC, BBB

    PENDING:
    ■ 6Yr Doctor of Veterinary Medicine Programme - UVM Košice
    → Application sent 16.01.17
    APPLICATION PUT ON HOLD BY ME DUE TO FINANCIAL CONSTRAINTS

    THINGS TO DO:
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    ■ APPLY FOR SFE
    → Blegh. Not even started.


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    Journal

    My primary method of tracking my studying is through a written journal, where I can physically tick off things as I go. In there I have a timetable with gym and study sessions pencilled in, weekly spreads for delegating tasks and keeping tabs on habits, and a spread of the next few months with past papers set to do on specific dates. So far, it's working quite well for me! I don't know if it could be classed as a Bullet Journal, but it soothes the soul filling it out so, for as long as it continues to do so, I'll stick to it.


    Spread I did planning when I would do past papers. I've deliberately given myself the majority of March off so that when I start doing timed papers in April I won't have just done them recently.


    The schedule I work to. Or rather, the schedule I should work to. I still get everything done in the day, it's just sometimes I go gym last thing, or give myself a bit of a lie-in.




    Examples of my weekly spreads. Pink is chemistry, blue is physics, green is biology. I've recently switched from numbering the weeks (week 1, week 2 etc) to using each week as a countdown until my first exam. Hopefully it'll provide a little motivation! I've also started adding a meal-plan in so I can figure out in advance what I'm going to be eating. I'm not someone who usually eats lunch, so trying to get into that habit is proving difficult. But - brains need food! I have such a bad relationship with food and can starve myself some weeks, then over-eat the next, so this is my attempt at getting some control back in my life.





    Study planners for each unit. Each item corresponds to a file I have on my computer. Past papers are marked by how easy I found them (red being horrible, green being good), and the grade I got on them. All of my winter papers are untimed - I'll start doing them under "exam conditions" come April (aka my "summer term").

    Please forgive the quality of the photos! My phone's camera is nothing short of a potato.

    The journal I use is a Leuchtturm1917, available for sale here. It's my first time using any sort of journal so I generally read around for reviews first and settled on this one. 10/10 would get again.
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    Wow great blog so far! It is so aesthetically pleasing. Can't wait to see your progress
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    (Original post by misstiah_h)
    Wow great blog so far! It is so aesthetically pleasing. Can't wait to see your progress
    Thank you!
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    25/01/17

    Next week my folks are away on holiday, leaving me home alone for a solid seven days - i.e. a prime opportunity to get work done with as little disturbance as possible. Boyfriend may or may not be coming to stay, but if anything he'll end up being the heartless motivator, rather than a distraction. No cuddles if no cramming!

    This week has been a bit all over the place due to me having to sort out some things regarding Slovakia, and attempting to form a coherent spreadsheet on the pros and cons of each university choice (hint: turns out, I can't decide!). I'm also in hospital tomorrow morning, then travelling to Truro to meet with a friend I haven't seen since October. So, getting things done will be a bit tricky, but nevertheless I am cracking on with it all.


    Miscalculations were made...

    Had a bit of a de-motivational moment today after checking my current UMS grades on exams: turns out that even though I've received As in every other written paper, and am hitting 100% UMS in my BIOL4 practice papers, the UMS on my practical exams will not let me achieve an A* overall. I am, unfortunately 31 short. This after the teachers said that grades on practical exams have never affected overall grades. Unfortunately, I can't resit those practical papers due to the college shutting. So I'm left with a maximum achievable A2 spread of AAB.

    A part of me wonders if it's worth putting in such a high amount of hours in Physics and Biology when I am only 5 UMS off the highest achievable grade in both. I could put in to do G485 which would give me a chance to achieve an A in physics, making the overall grades AAA - which if achieved would guarantee me a spot at RVC/Liverpool. At the moment my AAB is a big 'if' for them. It would mean needing an extra 65 UMS rather than 5, but I would have 112 available UMS to play for.

    So...it's something to consider. Chances are I will talk myself out of the idea over the weekend. I like to hoard lots of shiny As, but at the end of the day, so long as I get a minimum ABB (or a place at Kosice) I will have what I need to get in!


    Work, work, work!

    I have now done (and marked) 4 Bio Unit 4 papers. I'm waiting to mark 2 chemistry and 2 physics papers, which I will try to track down and do over the weekend. Lord knows why I didn't just mark them at the time, but they're ticked off on the list so I must have completed them somewhere!

    I'm also flying through the Physics and Maths Tutor question packs, and finding them okay! Marking them can be a bit fiddly, but overall I'm finding them useful resources, especially when I want to target specific subjects. I'm still struggling with grasping the concept of radians, which is messing up some of my SHM and circular motion marks. Partner and dad are a whizz at physics, so I may pin one or both of them down and ask them to go through it with me at some point. But I knew they were a problem area last year, so at least the difficulty hasn't come as a surprise!

    I need to start on the Physics and Maths Tutor exam question booklets for Biology, but at the moment I've been focusing on past papers in order to work out where my weak areas are. So far, it's pretty much just the Krebs and Calvin Cycles, and that's just a case of memorising when NADH/NADPH/FADH2/ATP are involved. Energy transfer in ecosystems is also a bit of a wobbly area.

    I've been using A-Level Chemistry for exercises and exam questions on Chem modules, as well as Doc Brown's resources. I know from last year that mechanisms, periodicity, and electrochemical cells were my Achilles' heel, so I've been targeting them during revision to try and crack them ASAP. So far, so good. I've also developed a good table system for learning the reactions of ions in aqueous solutions, so if I go over it once a day, by the time exam season hits I should have it memorised for good.


    Reflections...

    I'm not finding it as difficult to stay disciplined as I thought. The biggest distraction is my parents telling me to stop working! lol
    At some point lambing is going to start and I want to have some time dedicated to that, and now that I'm over my cold and my bloodwork is looking a little better, I want to get back to the gym again. I've been referred for surgery (hopefully with a view to go in July/August), so I need to get working on them pecs! :dumbells:


    RESOURCES MENTIONED
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    Good luck! :-)
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    26/01/17

    Thank you for the good luck wishes and support! It's nice knowing there are some people dropping in on my little journey.


    With the momentum of a freight train!

    I tried to think of a really good physics pun for that header but, alas, that's the best I could come up with. I'll think of something better for next time.
    Did (and marked!) the Jan 2010 G484 physics paper today and got... *drumroll*...... 83/90 UMS. That's an A*! Pretty pleased with that, especially as I actually found some parts difficult. Apparently, I managed to muddle my way through.

    What I learned from that paper:
    • I need to revise some common experiment setups (I more or less had the right idea for one to find specific heat capacity, but it was a little...unconventional. Although albeit, a lot more concise.)
    • I need to practice calculating area estimates etc. from graphs. Sometimes they want you to count squares, other times do a square then divide by two for triangular area...need to figure out what they actually want and when so I don't drop marks. 1 or 2 marks quite literally cost me a grade last year!

    Next on the agenda for today is the pack of photosynthesis and respiration questions from TSR, and a test on amino acids, just to check that my revising is going in and that I'm still on schedule. I have 3 hours before I need to shoot... phew....


    Making it rain

    Had a paycheck from Royal Mail out of the blue today. Think I've written my hours down wrong as it looks on paper like they've overpaid me by £80 - and that's not including the £110 in tax they owe me!

    Either way, I won't be spending it for a while, so hopefully if they do take it back they won't push my account overdrawn in doing so.

    That being said, I do need to get me some new jeans. And boyfriend's been hounding me to get a proper white, custom tailored shirt, so maybe for my birthday next month I can persuade him to treat me.

    Regardless, the money was a nice (and motivational) surprise!
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    Good luck! Hopeful vet here, too (except I'm in year 11 doing GCSEs) - thanks for some more motivation!
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    Yaaay Scitty! :woo:

    I haven't been keeping up with threads this year so I had no idea you'd managed to bag three vetmed offers! :eek: Congratulations dude I'm so pleased It sounds like you're making really good progress with your A levels too, keep up the good work This year will be your year, you absolutely deserve it.
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    (Original post by buzzyambee)
    Good luck! Hopeful vet here, too (except I'm in year 11 doing GCSEs) - thanks for some more motivation!
    Thank you! Good luck with your GCSEs too! If you ever need help with GCSE science/vet applications/want advice about stuff feel free to shoot a PM. I'm by no means and expert but hopefully I would be able to answer some questions!

    (Original post by Little Tail Chaser)
    Yaaay Scitty! :woo:

    I haven't been keeping up with threads this year so I had no idea you'd managed to bag three vetmed offers! :eek: Congratulations dude I'm so pleased It sounds like you're making really good progress with your A levels too, keep up the good work This year will be your year, you absolutely deserve it.
    Thanks LTC!

    It was completely out of the blue! Was not expecting a Liv offer this year round at all ahaha. The 2017 thread has been going through manic spurts of activity then silence so probably haven't missed too much since you last dropped by.
    Trying not to say the words out loud for fear of jinxing it, but I do hope things go well this time. :laugh:
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    Oh wow! So this year you're technically self-teaching your A-levels? What made you decide to resit?

    I'm a mature person who is self-teaching A-level Biology and find this thread very inspirational!! Do you have any study/revision techniques for this subject?
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    (Original post by Philip-flop)
    Oh wow! So this year you're technically self-teaching your A-levels? What made you decide to resit? I'm a mature person who is self-teaching A-level Biology and find this thread very inspirational!! Do you have any study/revision techniques for this subject?
    Mainly that I was 5 UMS off the grades I needed last year! (Not bitter or anything ). I don't have the money for post-grad vet med or an access course/BTEC to top me up, so there was a financial factor too, with me being 20.

    Glad you're finding inspiration though! It can be daunting being over the traditional A Level age and having to do it by yourself.

    Tips wise…for me I do past papers to work out my weak areas, then do topical questions to practice where I'm falling short. I do a lot of reading around the subject as well, beyond what the A Level spec requires - helps with some of the application-style questions.

    Basically just start revising early and do as many past papers as you can! Physics And Maths Tutor is a good site for notes and question papers; when I'm back at home on my computer I'll post the other sites I use for bio revision. Can't remember them off of the top of my head!


    EDIT: Another good technique for revising is to maybe try and teach another person what you've learned. If you can explain information well enough for them to understand, chances are you can articulate yourself well for exam questions. Try to link topics as well - do mind maps to get your head around how each module is connected. That's particularly helpful for when you get to the big mark questions and the synoptic essay (if you have to do that in one of your exams; I'm on the AQA old spec so it may be different).

    On that note, however: don't limit yourself to just studying your exam board. Do past papers from others as well; it's all practice!
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    28/01/17

    Philip-flop: the other resources I use are the question packs from this threadon TSR, and alsoVBIOLOGY, which has some exam booklets for practice, as well as powerpoints on the subject matter.


    Schedules are for breaking...?

    I didn't get up until quite late on Friday and unfortunately the thought of driving 1hr+ home made me mopey as **** so I basically did zero work yesterday. I tried to play catch up today, and mostly managed, but there are some question booklets I skipped doing which I will go through next week. At this point in time I'm not too worried about postponing certain activities, as at the rate I'm going I will have finished all the question booklets and such that I've found before Easter comes, and my doing past papers will help me pick out if there's something I'm really struggling on.

    I did another physics paper today (June 2010). Got 81/90 UMS with my 52 marks, which makes the borderline for an A*! Quite pleased, and I enjoyed the paper. Nothing too bad, but I dropped 8 marks in total from some theory **** ups.

    What I learned from that paper:
    • I need to revisit Brownianmotion just so I'm 100% confident in it. I didn't lose any marks on questions about it, but I can't afford to hem and haw over simple questions about it in the real thing!
    • I need to go over some applications of resonance, especially scenarios where it is beneficial i.e. MRI scanning, microwave cooking, swings etc.


    Poly(mer) want a cracker?

    Ran through some of the planned chemistry exercises today. I dropped marks on some basic drawing errors with polymers (ughhhhhhh) that I wouldn't have made if I hadn't been rushing the work. I do, however, need to focus on learning carbonyl reactions with reagents such as H2SO4, NaBH4, Tollens', and Fehling's, as when asked to draw the products for those my recall time is slow as heck. Same goes for remembering the structure of nylon, kevlar and terylene.

    I need to update journal for February this evening, so I will do that with some porridge and a cup of tea and enjoy the first night of peace & quiet. Hopefully folks will come back from the Canary Islands nice and relaxed, as things have been particularly tense at home recently (to the point where they may have been splitting up), so having a bit of stability back can't hurt headspace, right?

    I'll also get some journal stuff scanned in and added to this thread, as the walls of text are making my eyes hurt. :laugh:
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    31/01/17

    It's been a mad few days! Boyfriend is camping over now. It's very hard to resist the urge to just curl up in bed together and snooze, but alas, As won't be achieved by themselves. I made a really good pasta dish for dinner last night - chorizo and ricotta tortellini in a creamy tomato, basil, garlic, and paprika sauce, with a little bit of cayenne pepper for kick. Noice.


    I hate chemistry...

    I hate chemistry. I can say that, right? Loathe it. I decided that enough faffing was enough, and tried my hand at a past paper (last time I did one was in November, without any prior revision). It was, in short, a disaster - but the disaster wasn't necessarily because of a lack of knowledge, but more just many stupid mistakes - stupid mistakes that cost me 30 marks over all. I could kick myself.
    So, June 2015 Chem 4, I had 70/100 on the paper, which translates to 82 UMS. Not ideal, considering I'm aiming for 105 UMS (i.e. 83 marks on that paper).

    Where I lost marks:
    • I dropped 4 marks on the wordy theory of Kw. I had the rough idea, but trying to articulate it on paper wasn't easy and I basically just ended up talking myself out of the correct answer in the end.
    • Mechanisms. I had the general idea correct, but I kept leaving off lone pairs of electrons (WHY?) and occasionally condensed multiple steps into one. I need to learn to write everything out fully, even if I am rushing, because in the end it cost me several marks that would have pushed me into the A bracket.
    • RTFQ. As my chemistry teacher used to say - Read The F***ing Question!! I dropped a mark because I put all products of saponification as C17H31, when there should have been a C17H29 and a C17H33 (I am not smart), and that combined with not actually reading my answers back to check I have included the correct number of atomssaw me lose several more. Again, I'm just gutted that it's stupid mistakes like that, and partly becaused I was rushing.
    • Bond lengths. Honestly, this was the one part where I can say a lack of knowledge really threw me. I need to revise the difference between single, double, and benzene bonds, as overall I only got half marks on that question, which is something I cannot afford in the real thing.


    Again, mainly my issue was just with not writing the full answer, or interpreting the question wrong. But, it's my first chemistry paper since revising, so a borderline B is not too bad, especially when I've mainly been cramming for Unit 5.

    Nyooooooom...

    Sat and did Jan 2011 OCR G484 yesterday, and achieved a nice 74 UMS - 3 marks off an A*. As always, marks I lost were stupid little ones like forgetting a keyword here, or fudging up a graph there. Overall, not too concerned, and there isn't any particular topic from it that I felt I struggled with.

    I've decided to let Bio and Physics take a backseat from now on. I'll continue to do past papers for them, but actually sitting down and running through specific exercises on them will be at the bottom of my priority pile compared to ironing out the creases in my Chemistry.

    I'm finding my motivation is dipping a little, but part of that is because I'm so tired at the moment and, if I'm honest, I'm missing my horse riding, going to the gym, and my friends. Being stuck indoors revising in solitary 24/7 is a bit of a drain on the inspiration. I need to get out the house and get back into running again, regardless of how lethargic I may feel.

    And, as always, I said I would do things in my downtime this weekend but SPOILER! I did not. The scheduled breaks between tasks have also gone out the window, which I know isn't too good a thing. It's been a long time since I've written or read anything for fun, or done any exercise, and I only have myself to blame for that.
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    06/02/17

    Turns out I missed a mental health review appointment on 31st January, which makes me feel super bad. My memory of late has been deteriorating, likely from a combination of me being super tired, and from blood meds frying my brain. Blood test last Wednesday will be reviewed on the 14th of February; hoping my bloods will not have dropped to low blood cell counts again, as it may mean I need to permanently go on ferrous fumarate tablets, which were absolutely massacring my stomach and in general made me feel gross and unwell.


    I'm doing okay!

    I've run through a few more Chemistry and Physics papers over the past few days, and achieved As in them all. It's helped my confidence quite a bit. Boyfriend has now gone home, but family are back from holiday, so I've traded one distraction for another. Biology and Physics have taken something of a backseat for now, as I effectively need a C in both papers to achieve A and B respectively; my focus now is on Chemistry, and I've decided to aim for A* in both Chem 4 and Chem 5. That way I know I will be achieving enough UMS in the papers to get me my A overall!

    The main things I need to focus on right now is:
    - Aqueous ions reactions
    - Reagents & conditions for common reactions
    - Transition metals as catalysts

    Otherwise, I've scrubbed up my theory a fair bit over the past few days and altogether feel like I understand the subject matter a little better, which is good news!


    Gym-ratting

    I'm starting my workout programme this week. I need to sit down and look at Friday's plan (aka arm/back day) once I've completed today's and Wednesday's, to see if my rep aims are realistic or not. Currently the plans are as follows:

    MONDAY - CORE & CHEST
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    3 SETS OF:
    • Machine Incline Press - 10 reps
    • Seated Machine Fly - 10 reps
    • Dumbbell Squeeze Presses - 10 reps
    • Heel Touches - 15 reps
    • Dips - 10 reps
    • Sit-Ups - 15 reps

    With running and rowing as cardio for warm up. I may alter the reps when I try the exercises, as right now I don't know how much I can do without any training. I would rather do more reps with lighter weights, however.



    WEDNESDAY - CORE & LEGS
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    3 SETS OF:
    • Leg Raises - 20 reps
    • Romanian Dead Lift - 3 reps
    • Leg Extensions - 8 reps
    • Calf Raises - 15 reps
    • Pistol Squats - 2 reps (my balance is crap)
    • Hamstring Curl - 10 reps
    • Double Glute Raise - 10 reps
    • Dumbbell Lunges - 10 reps
    • Squat Sidekicks - 10 reps

    With running and cycling as cardio for warm up. My legs already have a fair bit of muscle and tone to them courtesy of regular horse riding and running. My thighs in particular are the most developed muscles I have thus far, so I'm willing to push myself a little more where they're concerned. Dead lifts, I admit, I'm nervous of, so I will start slowly with those, especially as my back and hips can be a bit twingy and I don't want to aggravate them!




    I am a disorganised nightmare

    As always, I say I'm going to upload pics, and never do. I won't say it this week - but one day....one day this thread will have images, I swear. The next few days I haven't scheduled in as much work due to me having my birthday on Wednesday (funnily enough, the day I have the most work planned - but it's mainly Bio revision, which I consider a reward ), and Friday has been left blank as a review day for any ****-ups I have on the past papers I'll do this week.

    Might be out for a meal on Saturday with the fam, but at the moment:

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    07/02/17

    I've done all my work by 1pm? Crumbs! Still aching from gym, mind you, but at least I have the day now to sort uni stuff.


    Transitioning!

    I can use this heading for two things - yippee!

    1) My referral letter for chest surgery has come through (dated 11th Jan), so that means I finally have my foot in the door with an NHS surgeon, and will hopefully have the go ahead for surgery after my exams. What a relief!

    2) I sat down to do the A-Level Chemistry Inorganic Compounds in Aqueous Solutions exercise and aced it. Started on the Transition Metals exam booklet (part 1...) but finished at question 14, because after that the questions were getting repetitive (literally the exact same thing, over and over) and so I wasn't gaining any further from it. That is the one issue I have with ALC resources: the exam booklets can get very repetitive, so if you don't understand something and it comes up often, all you're going to do is get it wrong multiple times, rather than be able to mark it, spot the mistake, and do another quick run through another time. I was more or less getting half marks on that booklet: it was more the specific wording on the theory that I dropped marks on.

    So for summary, phrases and definitions I need to remember:
    • A coordinate bond is one where one atom donates both electrons to the shared pair.
    • Characteristics of transition metals are: metals that form at least one stable coloured ionwith partially filled d-orbitals; able to adopt a variety of oxidation states; canact as catalysts; can form complex ions.
    • The number of coordinate bonds a ligand can form (i.e. uni/bi/multidentate) depends on the number of lone pairs it can donate.
    • Cisplatin is an example of a useful complex ion. It is used to treat cancer. (Pt(NH3)2Cl2).

    • Transition metal ions are coloured because d-electrons can absorb light and get excited into higher energy d-orbitals. The colour observed is equal to the resultant frequency of light not absorbed.


    At least the theory is basic, it's just making sure I get the key words in (something I, admittedly, am not too good at in other subjects either). I'm doing a unit 5 past paper on Thursday so with some luck that paper shouldn't go too horrendously if I can memorise the above definitions!


    Half Term Planning

    Although I technically don't have a half-term, courtesy of being self-taught, I am going to use the end of February as a review stage to go over mistakes I've made in past papers (and retry any calculations I got wrong), and also sort out which resources I haven't used yet. It'll also be a chance for me to catch up in my journal, as having March all planned out before it comes would be great!

    I'll be taking a break 17th-19th of February to visit my best friend in Winchester. I'll drive up (with her other friend) to get to hers Friday evening after she's finished uni, and can spend some time with her. We last saw each other around New Year so it will have been a while by that point! :rolleyes:

    I also have the following (growing) to-do list to get done by the end of February, so I may give myself a few more days off over the national half-term period to get through it:

    • Hoover & dust room (Spring cleaning!)
    • Sort Student Finance (ohmygod Scott, get it together)
    • Update journal (including printing some pictures to stick in?)
    • Upload pics to this here thread (a never-ending, never-achieved goal, apparently)
    • Visit the farm - I'd like to go riding again soon, and I haven't been able to get hold of them. I hope they're okay.
    • Finish Endless Forms Most Beautiful and The Dragonfly in Amber so I can start on (well, finish) Magic's Pawn and The Eagle's Conquest. I just haven't had time set aside for reading in so long, and at the moment I'm so exhausted at the end of the day that the thought of reading in bed gives me a headache.
    • Set a best time for running 5k! I've fortunately not lost any fitness over the break, which is great. I worried when I had to stop working out due to my iron levels that my run training would diminish, but I was able to comfortably run 12 minute miles yesterday, so I'm quite pleased!



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    09/02/17

    Eww. I'm 20. When did that happen?

    MOVING SWIFTLY ON... :unimpressed:


    AQA need to CHILL...

    Did my first Chem 5 past paper today, June 2009. Found the paper itself alright, but overall I lost marks from where I had changed my answers due to a lack of confidence (especially with electrochemical cells) and fluffing up some definitions. I definitely need to learn reagents/testing for groups. Otherwise, I think it went well, and I ended up getting a high B (76 marks - 2 marks off an A). It's nowhere near the 90% UMS I would like, but there's still time.

    One thing I have noticed, however, is that overtime the chemistry exams - while not changing in difficulty, I feel - have required more marks to get the same grade. 65% was an A back in 2009, and in the latest papers it's normally around 85%. Doesn't inspire much confidence. Not sure if that's because the student population is getting smarter/better at chemistry, or fewer people are taking chemistry (and those who do take it are ones studying it to higher level/doing medicine, and thus are generally pretty okay at it in the first place). Makes me sooooo glad to know that my works are worth less in later years.

    Should've been born in 1990.

    In summary:
    • Improve confidence with electrochemical cells.
    • Practice Born-Haber cycles.
    • Learn reagents for testing for chemical groups, especially where Group 2/Period 3 elements are concerned.
    • Learn catalyst equations off by heart. Just saves a few minutes in exams if I can just blurt them out from memory, rather than working them out anew each time a question comes up on them.


    Overall, not too shabby for the first paper, I think. And there's still plenty of time to iron out the creases!


    Thoughts on uni...

    Knowing that I cannot achieve AAA in my exams courtesy of only resitting one Physics module, I've emailed RVC and Liverpool asking for their advice on what the realistic outcome of me firming their offers will be if the max I can achieve is AAB. If both come back with a "go for it anyway", I'm thinking I will firm Liverpool. Overall it just seems like a greater adventure, a safer place to live, and cheaper. Plus, if my mum did decide to by a property for her live savings, and let it to students with me as landlord, that's only really going to be feasible in Liverpool/Bristol.

    It's a hard decision, because I love them both, and once upon a time RVC was my favourite of all. (Until I saw Glasgow, and wept tears of joy/envy.) But we shall see what the unis say, as I have a feeling Liverpool will not be so lenient with me. Although, I could be unlucky and get them both turn around and say don't bother. :lol:C'est la vie!


    "Note to self"...

    Spent time with mum in town yesterday, getting some new clothes to wear out for meal on Saturday. Was nice just to have a chat over coffee and find out how she's getting on with my step dad now they've had a break together.

    Spotted something I would like to get her for Mother's Day, as I haven't had the money to get her anything special in a while, and hopefully this will be my last Mother's Day at home. She's been amazing support for me throughout my A-Levels and hasn't yet given up on me, despite many other people having done so. She deserves the whole world, but I think this will be a nice treat for her.

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    She was taken with it when we walked past the shop, and they had a set of earrings and necklace in the style for the same price advertised online. I'll nip in and get it at some point over the next week.
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    14/02/17

    I'm pleased to say that:
    a) My bloodwork has come back as normal twice in a row, so the doctor is no longer considering me anaemic. Wahey! My RBCs still have below healthy haem levels in them, but my iron levels, B12, and FBC count has returned to within the average range.

    b) I've had a letter come through for an appointment with the surgeon at Truro in April. Hopefully this means I can have all my health stuff sorted before I would potentially be off to uni. Makes accommodation cheaper as I won't have to get an en-suite then, necessarily.

    Good news all round!


    We've got a strong chemistry...

    Can that count as a Valentine's Day pun? Eh, I'll take it. Unlikely to be doing anything for V-Day, so have settled down in some lounge wear to do work while the house is empty and quiet (parents have decided to redecorate...again). I ended up not doing any work on Saturday due to dad leaving it so late to go to the gym together (it was gone 11 before we left, ugh). And then by the time I picked boyfriend up from the station, it was time to head out for meal, and then we ended up staying on for more drinks. Overall, don't exactly regret it. It was nice to have a break and spend time with family, and eat free food.

    Anywho - onto recent work!

    Recently sat down and did the Jan 2010 Chem 4 paper, and the Jan 2010 Chem 5 paper for the old spec, along with finally doing June 2012 for unit 4 physics, which I have been scheduling and ignoring for ages now. Overall, I had As on all papers, but found them of varying difficulties.

    Thoughts on JAN 10 CHEM 4:
    • Overall I really enjoyed this paper. I didn't find it all that challenging, and I was only a few marks off an A*.
    • Most of my marks were dropped in areas where I lack confidence. It wasn't necessarily that I didn't know the answer, I just doubted that I did, and so ended up going back and changing a lot of my answers to the wrong thing, which is something I'm terrible for in real exams. Wish I could break the habit, but everyone always says to go back and check your answers!
    • Again, it's a case of learning reagents for mechanisms. Just simple things such as missing out one of a pair, or knowing the correct electrophile/nucleophile but unsure how it forms from several reagents.
    • Remembering the uses of esters, and quarternary ammonium salts. Saponification and surfactants are easy to remember, but I always come up blank when trying to recall biodiesel. Hmph.


    In general, if I can get more confident with the answers I'm giving, I should be okay. But that confidence will only come with practice.


    Thoughts on JAN 10 CHEM 5:
    • I didn't realise until towards the end of this paper that some of the questions are a little different to what is expected in the new spec, so I took a few marks off the total available for the paper and worked out my grade by percentages based on their grade boundaries. I was just on the boundary for an A, but it's still an improvement on my first Chem 5 paper, so I'm pretty pleased.
    • Redox is still giving me a hard time. I botched up some of the questions on working out best oxidising/reducing agents from electrode potentials, so later (possibly next week) I'll go back over my notes for electrochemical cells and practice some questions about that, just to get the theory and methodology solid in my head.
    • My brain is at a point where it has apparently forgotten everything to do with intermolecular forces. Generally my chemistry is decent enough now that I can work out what's going on from common sense and knowledge, but it would be enormously helpful if I could remember off the top of my head the differences between bond lengths, types, IMFs, etc. etc. I'll have a search for some resources on bonding and IMFs later today, and pencil it in as something to go over next week.


    Thoughts on JUN 12 G484:
    • I found this paper a little tricky/challenging for some unknown reason. I guess maybe because it was quite a wordy paper? There weren't all that many calculation questions worth heavy marks (and that one that was worth 3+marks was a ratio expressed as a formula question, which I feckin hate). Clearly I need to scrub up on my physics theory & vocab.
    • Thermal physics. I'm starting to wonder if we covered thermal physics at a time last year when either a) I was having vet interviews or b) I was out of college for a variety of reasons. If we covered it in November, then that explains things, but honestly I don't remember doing thermal physics in class, and there's some theory I came across in this paper that made me double take. Specifically, changes in energies in substances undergo state changes. I think it's about time I sat down to do some thermal physics work, as I dropped a significant proportion of marks on thermal questions across the paper.

    It wasn't a bad paper, it just was less mathematical than I'm perhaps used to, so I think I found myself tripping over my words and all in all getting bored while answering. I do quite like my punching numbers.
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