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Reach for the (A) stars! My journey to university Watch

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    :groovy:Hi everyone! Welcome to my A level study blog!:groovy:


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    In this blog I am hoping to show you my journey from A levels to University! I'm going document all the ups and downs, and also show you what life is like as an A level student dealing with anxiety (as if A levels weren't stressful enough already!)

    About me
    I am 17 years old, and live in the UK. I am an avid musician and play 3 instruments, and hopefully at some point in the future I would like to be a professional musician, even just for a few months! However, my current goal is getting into university to study Psychology. For A level I take Maths, Biology and Psychology, and also an EPQ on the psychology of music. Life isn't all sunshine and rainbows though; I suffer from very frequent panic attacks and anxiety which is affecting my time at school, and my ability to study, but I'm not going to let that stop me! This is something I hope to provide regular updates on, as it will be my main challenge this year!

    Current results and goals

    GCSE Results
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    Maths: A*
    English Language: A*
    English Literature: A
    Biology: A*
    Chemistry: A*
    Physics: A*
    Music: A*
    Art: A*
    History: A*
    Spanish: A*










    AS Level Results
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    Maths: A 161 UMS
    EPQ Level 3: A*/A, 45/50










    A level predicted grades
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    Psychology: A*
    Maths: A* (but sent off as an A to UCAS due to school policy)
    Biology: A











    University tracker

    I applied on 19/10/17, and will update when I know more!

    Durham - Psychology - AAA - Pending
    Bath - Psychology with placement year - A*AA - Pending
    Nottingham - Psychology - AAB - Offer 25/10 AAB
    York - Psychology - AAA/AAB - Offer 25/10 AAA
    Warwick - Psychology - AAB - Offer 06/11 AAB

    I hope to go to Durham, but I would be happy at any of these universities.

    My plan for the rest of this year:

    My plan at the moment is to keep on top of work and revise as I go along so that I am ahead. This will be really helpful anyway, but especially so that I am prepared for if my anxiety gets worse in the run up to exams. I'll be sharing at least once a week how I'm getting on with revision, internal school exams, and any general tips and useful things I've discovered during the year. Feel free to follow along and I hope you enjoy reading!
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    October: Blog post 1



    Thoughts on internal school exams - you know more than you think you know!
    Last week I had internal school exams, which honestly crept up on me out of the blue. 6 or 7 weeks into the new term, having taken a while to get back into the swing of things and having not done an ounce of work over the summer, I was thoroughly unprepared. I didn't keep my notes up to date, I didn't create all the flashcards I needed to (more on my flashcards in a later post!), never mind memorise them. The weekend before my exams, I planned to spend all weekend cramming, but I didn't. Instead I spent Saturday meeting up with a friend who lives on the other side of the country, having had a bit of a re-evalate of things the night before. I'd worked out I needed 30+ hours to learn everything, but realistically I only had 15 at most. This was a terrifying prospect, until I looked back and thought, how much do these internal tests really matter? I never remember the grades I get in them, and they're insignificant the minute they have passed.

    So I went out, I met up with my friend and I didn't regret a minute of it. Until now I had deprived myself of sleep and completely stressed myself out for these internal tests that don't mean anything. But this time I went into them having done about half the revision I THOUGHT I needed to do. Notice I say thought, because I actually got 100% in one Psychology paper, and 80% overall in Biology. I got by just fine despite thinking I was so unprepared, and I think this has taught me a valuable lesson which hopefully will be helpful to other people too.

    There is more to our lives than just exams, and it is possible to do things we enjoy as well as just revising, especially early on in the year like it is now. So if you take anything from this, don't put your life on hold to spend every minute of the day revising, you'll be pleasantly surprised with how it is very possible to balance social life and work if you are working in the right ways

    I hope everyone has a lovely day, and I will update soon! It's half term so I am having a break from work, but I'll post the rest of my test results when I get them.
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    October: Blog post 2 - update

    UCAS and life update
    Just a quick update of how things have been getting on over half term!
    UCAS: I received my first two offers on Wednesday, both within two hours of each other! I was offered AAA from York and AAB from Nottingham. I'm a bit sad that York offered me AAA, as on their open day they said they usually offer AAB if you have two sciences, and I have three. I was hoping York could be my insurance so now I'm going to have to have a bit of a rethink. Still, I'm so happy I got offers, I'm going to university!

    Life: It's half term this week so I haven't been doing any school work, since I think I needed a break having had exams just before half term. I think the break has served me well, and I've managed to spend lots of time with friends, read lots of books and also start a future learn course on Psychology and Mental Health which has been really interesting so far! In the last few days of half term I hopefully will do a little bit of revision on some AS topics that I wasn't examined on last week, just to keep my knowledge up to scratch!

    I hope everyone is having a lovely week and thank you for reading!





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    October: Blog post 3 - update


    End of half term update
    Half term is pretty much over, and I'm happy to say I've had a really relaxing time. I've loved having the time to read; this week I have read 'Everything, everything', 'Clockwork Princess' and 'Holding Up the Universe'. I think Clockwork Princess was my favourite, as I love the character Jem and how much he plays a part in this book. I have also had a big clear out of my bedroom, especially my study space, which I am happy to show now it is freshly organised and tidy I've found having a tidy bedroom makes me much less stressed and I can concentrate better on work, not too sure why!


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    I'm also going to take this time to make myself some goals for this half term, both academic and general life things:
    • Get up to date with all notes since the beginning of AS
    • Aim to go to the library in at least 3 frees a week
    • At least 3 hours of work a night
    • Complete future learn course
    • Be in bed by 10.30 pm
    • 15 minutes of yoga every morning
    • Read at least one book every two weeks
    • Finish learning grade 8 piano pieces
    • Keep my bedroom somewhat tidy
    • Don't turn down ANY invites to social events, no matter how anxiety provoking they are!

    Thank you for reading, I hope you enjoy the rest of your day and have a productive week!
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    November: Blog post 1 - update

    Test results, resits and music performances
    I've been back at school two days and already this week has been beyond stressful! I have had all my test results back from before half term, which was eventful:
    Biology: AS: 75% A2: 87% A*
    Psychology: Forensic: 100% A* Biopsychology: 67% C (whoops!) Overall: A
    Maths: 81% A

    So as you may be able to tell, we have issues with biopsychology. We have a new teacher who has some *interesting* ways of teaching and marking papers, including not using the actual exam mark scheme but making it up herself. This is a topic I enjoy and am confident with, so I was shocked when I got my result. I'll be honest, I've never had a C in my life so it felt like a slap in the face. Hopefully my other teacher will remark our whole class's papers like she said she will, and if not, the only way is up! I'm going to try and do lots more practice exam questions so I can't get caught out in the real thing.

    I also decided I am going to resit Core 1 of AS maths, because I got 84 UMS which was lower than I had been getting in practice papers. Hopefully this will give me a good cushion to be able to fall back on if (when) I do badly in A2 maths.

    Finally, this week I am playing piano in a fundraiser for prom! The rehearsals have been taking up a lot of my time so that'll be good to get out of the way. I play in various bands in two different schools and a concert band outside of school, so I have so many concerts lined up this year! Sometimes I wish I had taken music for A level so I could study it at university

    That's my week so far, thank you for reading!
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    Yaay just found your blog! Love it so far - excited to see how things go for you!
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    Looking forward to following your blog- really enjoyed reading the first few posts!
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    (Original post by Labrador99)
    Looking forward to following your blog- really enjoyed reading the first few posts!
    (Original post by gcsemusicsucks)
    Yaay just found your blog! Love it so far - excited to see how things go for you!
    Thank you both so much! I'm glad you like it
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    November: Blog post 2


    Test results take 2, senior maths challenge and revision
    Week 1 back after half term done, and I am honestly beyond drained. One positive though was that my Psychology got remarked after my teacher emailed AQA and realised she was marking a question wrong! So I got 5 extra marks out of 24 which was a really nice surprise, and this took me up to an A*! Psychology has always been my best A level so this gave me back a bit of confidence that I can still do well!

    Tuesday of this week is the Senior Maths Challenge, which I am slightly sceptical about since I haven't done a maths challenge like this since KS3. I think the maths aspect of it will be okay, but I've heard rumours that everyone taking maths will be sat in the hall like a proper exam, and this really scares me. I usually take my exams in a separate room because big rooms of people give me panic attacks, but since it's not an A level exam I don't know if they'll remember. Having a panic attack in a room where I am essentially trapped for 90 minutes is surprisingly not at the top of my bucket list!

    Finally, revision. Although test week has only just passed, we have another test week in January and I am trying to get in as much revision as I can now so I'm not revising over Christmas. Flashcards are my best friend when it comes to revision, and I'm currently testing out a new flashcard system which is meant to maximise forgetting to help you remember things. I'm going to make a separate blog post about this soon with photos of how it works! Tesco has stopped selling the flashcards I use though and I am slightly heartbroken and currently trying to decide on my best option going forward :'(

    On a happy note, Christmas is coming! In all the music groups I'm in we have started playing Christmas songs, and nothing warms my frosty little heart like a good bit of christmas music! My favourite arrangement which I've started in Concert Band on a Saturday is A Christmas Festival by Leroy Anderson, his arrangements are just fantastic!

    So here goes another week, thank you for reading!
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    Hi stressedpotato For the maths challenge, you're entitled to all of your usual exam arrangements, as stated here:
    https://www.ukmt.org.uk/about-us/faq/
    I'd recommend you speak to/email your teacher (or another teacher you'd feel comfortable with, or your pupil support base, etc.) tomorrow- preventing a panic attack and knowing you'd done your absolute best would be much better than trying to deal with one (an the knock on effects that may have on you being able to finish the paper) :hugs:
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    (Original post by Labrador99)
    Hi stressedpotato For the maths challenge, you're entitled to all of your usual exam arrangements, as stated here:
    https://www.ukmt.org.uk/about-us/faq/
    I'd recommend you speak to/email your teacher (or another teacher you'd feel comfortable with, or your pupil support base, etc.) tomorrow- preventing a panic attack and knowing you'd done your absolute best would be much better than trying to deal with one (an the knock on effects that may have on you being able to finish the paper) :hugs:
    This is great thank you so much! I'll try and talk to my teacher about it tomorrow then
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    (Original post by stressedpotato)
    This is great thank you so much! I'll try and talk to my teacher about it tomorrow then
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    November: Blog post 3


    Mid-week update, flashcard system and anxiety update
    So, update for this week so far! I completed 12 questions of the UKMT Senior Maths challenge, which I was pretty proud of because I'd never done any practice questions, it was all very last minute at school. I also received my third offer yesterday, AAB from Warwick! I've not actually visited Warwick and probably won't have it as my firm or insurance, but it was encouraging all the same to get an offer! School-wise I haven't been getting much homework, so I've been making the most of the time by learning lots of flashcards for AS content I haven't covered in a while.

    Anxiety update: So on Monday I decided to go to my head of year to let her know about my anxiety and that I am really struggling with panic attacks in school. My mum phoned school a year ago to tell them about it and ask for me to be in a separate room for exams, but other than that I didn't receive any other support from school at all. The teacher I spoke to this time was so different though, she was so lovely and understanding she actually made me cry because I never imagined that someone at my school would be so helpful about it (my headteacher doesn't believe in mental illness, so this put me off just a tad!). She told me about her experiences with panic attacks and told me I could come and find her whenever I wanted, and also emailed all my teachers to tell them what's going on, so it felt like a huge weight was lifted. Nice people are out there! She also referred me to a counsellor, so we will see how that goes.

    And finally, the flashcard system. I have been using something called spaced repetition which I heard about in a video by youtuber Thomas Frank. It basically uses different boxes, and when you get something right it moves to the next box, and you see the flashcard less and less, which makes better use of limited time! It's really being helpful so far, and means I can focus on information I am struggling with more. These are the boxes I use, having them right on my desk makes them really obvious so I can't forget to do them!



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    ur an amazinggg potato and I look forward to seeing more of ur blog
    tyy for being inspiring
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    (Original post by ahlaladolly)
    ur an amazinggg potato and I look forward to seeing more of ur blog
    tyy for being inspiring
    Aww thank you so much You should see the stupid grin I've got right now, never in my 17 years have I been called inspiring!
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    (Original post by stressedpotato)
    Aww thank you so much You should see the stupid grin I've got right now, never in my 17 years have I been called inspiring!
    aww you're welcome no legit you are, I do Bio, Chem and Maths, and I've applied for Med but still like seeing your hard work is inspirational Maths is my least fav subject out of all three, and the one I struggle with most, but I'm motivated now

    plus I like all that decor it's so insta worthy loool
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    How do you revise for biology? and what exam board
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    (Original post by ahlaladolly)
    aww you're welcome no legit you are, I do Bio, Chem and Maths, and I've applied for Med but still like seeing your hard work is inspirational Maths is my least fav subject out of all three, and the one I struggle with most, but I'm motivated now

    plus I like all that decor it's so insta worthy loool
    Oh same, I absolutely despise maths! You could say I have a fairy light problem, I own an unreasonable amount but I guess that works in my favour here! Good luck with your application!!
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    (Original post by stressedpotato)
    Oh same, I absolutely despise maths! You could say I have a fairy light problem, I own an unreasonable amount but I guess that works in my favour here! Good luck with your application!!
    Fairy lights are cute and thank you, good luck with yours!!
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    (Original post by sss1233)
    How do you revise for biology? and what exam board
    For biology I write notes and flashcards, then learn the flashcards. Then I spend a lot of time doing past paper questions so that I can get my exam technique really good. I use questions from the old specification too, and questions from physics maths tutor. I do AQA, but lots of questions from other boards are really useful too.

    Sorry for taking so long to get back to you, I hope this helps!
 
 
 
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