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Growing My Grades 17/18 - Year 13 Watch

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    Isabella's Grow My Grades

    Hey, my name is Isabella, and I am starting this blog because I want to achieve my best this year and I think this will help keep me motivated and determined. 💪💪💪

    If you haven't guessed but my username, I love Chemistry and am hoping to study this at university! Another passion of mine is healthy living, mainly eating well (aside from the tonnes of coffee I drink) and doing lots of sports! I am currently training 16 hours a week and involved in trialling for the junior worlds team. It can be quite hard to balance training and work, which means I have to be really organised, but deffo do-able! I really hope to keep updating this regularly, and I am open to any questions! Oh! and I a Specific Learning Disorder to do with visual processing and also dyslexia so this is going to be dotted with fun little spelling mistakes!

    GCSE'S

    At GCSE I achieved 5A*s and 5A's, which while are good grades, was very disappointing for me because I underachieved compared to both predicted grades and what I got in my mocks. I didn't really work that hard for them, which is something I regret so so much, but it has really spurred me on for the sixth form as I don't want to feel the same way on results day again.

    A* - Maths, Physics, Chemistry, English Lang, Biology
    A - French, Latin, Geography, Art, English Lit
    A in FSMQ

    AS Levels

    I entered Year 12 full of determination and I did really well. I had already decided that Chemistry was what I wanted to do at Uni, so chose my A-Levels based on this. Initially, I signed up for Maths, Physics, Chemistry, Geography and an EPQ. I soon switched Geography with Further Maths and by the end of the year chose to drop EPQ.

    At AS I obtained:
    Maths:
    C1 - 95 ums;C2 - 100 ums;M1 - 82 ums;S1 - 100 ums
    FMaths:
    FP1 - 92 ums;D1 - 100 ums

    Overall I was happy and had proved to myself that hard work does pay off!

    Summer

    Over summer I did some work experience in a Chemistry Lab at Oxford Uni. This really confirmed for me that I wanted to do Chem at Uni at a place similar to Oxford. I fell in love with the NatSci course at Cambridge and so, of course, would have to do early application. Buuut I really struggled with the PS and left it to last min. Luckily 5 days to go I had cut it down to a copy I was happy with (3999 characters ... bingo!!! )

    Year 13 - A2 tiimeeee

    Time to get serious. I decided to do Fmaths only to AS, so that I have more time to work on Physics and Chemistry. I'll be done with Maths by Christmas so I'll let you know how this works out.

    My Main focus right now (28/10/17) is the NatSci admissions test I've got in 1 week, so I'm mainly revising for that at the moment on top of the mountains of Chemistry work I've been set over half term. :rolleyes: yaa know how it is!

    My Predicted grades are 3A*'s and I'm soo determined to get these and prove to myself I can do it!!

    Right now I am working at around A*AA, with the A* in Maths. So what I’m looking to do over the next few months is grow my Physics and Chemistry grades from A to A*. I think Physics will be most challenging.


    Chemistry
    Chemistry has definitely stepped up a lot this year in terms of difficulty, and I'm struggling more with the organic side. But I have made a mind map of mechanisms linking all the different groups and it's been really helpful! -- deffo recommend. Inorganic is going a lot smoother, I enjoy it a lot more.

    Oh and guys.... if you do AQA Chemistry A-Level, check out E. Rintoul's youtube vids on the topics. THEY. ARE. AMAZING. He goes through the topic and then some exam-style questions and how to answer them. Wishing there was the same sort of thing for Physics :'(

    Physics
    Physics is also quite challenging this year, mainly because I don't particularly enjoy the teaching style for it at my school. With some extra work I'm sure I'll get there... these just a lot I need to learn at the mo! For now I'm going to get to work learning equations and definitions using quizlet.

    Maths Fmaths
    Both going pretty smoothly for now, really enjoying both the courses!

    I have applied to Cambridge (Gonville and Caius) for Physical Natural Sciences, and to Imperial, Durham, UCL and Notts for Chemistry.

    Cool. Well thanks for reading if you made it this far!! It does seem quite long, but I always really enjoy reading these and knowing details about how everyone is doing! Please let me know what you think! xxx

    Revision Snack of the Week: Avocado's on Ryvita :P
    Revision Drink of the Week: Green Tea
    Currently Reading: Periodic Tales by Hugh Aldersey-Williams

    ....here goes....
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    It’s a new day and I woke up to a few replies from some of my universities!!
    I’ll give you a little bit of an update:

    Date Applied: 13/10/17
    Cambridge University
    Date acknowledged: 13/10/17
    Status: Acknowledged/SAQ

    Imperial College
    Date Acknowledged: 14/10/17
    Status: Invited for interview 26/10/17

    Durham
    Date acknowledged: n/a
    Status: Yet to acknowledge

    UCL
    Date acknowledged: 13/10/17
    Status: Invited for interview/ applicant day 28/10/17

    Nottingham University
    Date acknowledged: 16/10/17
    Status: Offer ABB with A in Chemistry


    I’m hoping to get lots of revision done today, specifically on radioactivity and nuclear fusion. I’m on half term at the moment so will be updating this regularly, but after this weekend will probably be updating only weekly. )

    2:00pm
    I did a practise NSAA paper under exam conditions in a local cafe (the 2016 paper) and got 84% across the two sections, so was really happy with that! Only other paper is the specimen paper.... anyone know other ways I can get in some practise? I’ve been doing PAT practise qu’s.
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    Definitely watching this one

    I'm on AQA Chemistry too and E Rintoul is literally lord and saviour atm.
    For Physics im meh about but A Level Physics Online is a pretty good channel I've found!
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    Great first post AvogardosAvocados!

    I'll be watching this thread
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    I really want to watch this one. I feel the same about my GCSEs, although mine weren't as good as yours- 2A*s, 6As, C and D. Really hope you get your uni places
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    29th October - Last day of half term

    Last day before half term, so will from now on only be updating weekly.

    Today wasn't great productivity-wise. I woke up late after sleeping through my alarm and felt really ill. Luckily I'm feeling better now and have sat down to start some of the Chemistry work I've got to do. Later I'm planning on writing out some equations to learn for the NSAA and go over the spec to check I know everything. Yesterday I worked for a few hours at Cafe Nero -- I always seem to get more work done in cafes... I quite like the atmosphere and background noise. There, I finished Nuclear Fusion and moved onto Binding Energy.

    Here's my To-Do list for today (I will tick off as I go along):
    • Organic Chemistry HW
    • Inorganic Chemistry HW
    • Print off PS and put in notebook
    • Flashcards on Physics Equations and Constants to learn. X
    • Wash training Kit
    • Pack bag for school

    Update @ 10.00 pm:
    Finished all but one on my To-Do list. Chemistry work just took soooo long. Hopefully I will do the flashcards tomorrow.

    Revision Snack of the Week: Hippeas Organic Chickpea Puffs
    Revision Drink of the Week: Water with lemon
    Currently Reading: Periodic Tales by Hugh Aldersey-Williams
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    (Original post by bookloverlolly)
    I really want to watch this one. I feel the same about my GCSEs, although mine weren't as good as yours- 2A*s, 6As, C and D. Really hope you get your uni places
    Thank you so much!! Your grades are great too!!!
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    1st November 2017

    Hasn't quite been a week since I last posted but nevermind! I'm in Cafe Nero again, working (half way to getting my 10th cup of coffee free thoo!!!). Doing lots of prep for NSAA, taken lots of time off training for it. I'm just practising questions and making sure i know everything on the spec. The test is tomorrow and I'm nervous-excited because I want to get it over and done with. I'm not too stressed because I know that even if this goes badly I have some other great Universities I could end up going to, so its not the end of the world!! Someone suggested I did some Cambridge Pre-U Chem and Phys papers to help prepare, as they are multiple choice too, but they were quite hard and had lots of thing I had not covered yet. tbh i am kinda enjoying doing the practise NSAA papers!

    Over the last few days I haven't been that productive with my time. First week back at school and I really need to get back into my normal routine. Bake off has been a bit distracting.... A levels-wise, Maths has definitely stepped up a notch. Doing vectors in C4 and I am finding them really hard to get my head around I'm trying to be more engaged in Physics and Chemistry, but the work is getting a lot. I really can't wait to finish the maths and fmaths courses so I can stop going to those classes and have more time for independent study. I have a C4 test next week.... not ready. I'll let you know how it goes!

    Revision Snack of the Week: Dried Mango
    Revision Drink of the Week: Cappucino (Cafe Nero ofc )
    Currently Reading: Periodic Tales by Hugh Aldersey-Williams
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    Your posts are amazing, would you be able to give tips on applying to uni and work experience??
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    7th November 2017

    I took the NSAA test last Thursday. Not going to lie, it went pretty badly, I'm not expecting an interview. I've heard people tell me 'everyone always says that' and 'I'm sure it actually went fine,' but it didn't. I could answer most of the questions as I ran out of time and the ones I could I made silly mistakes on (. It's a shame because I found last years paper really good!
    Oh well!! Still have the other 4 universities I applied to! My informal chat/ interview for UCL was today. I wasn't too nervous but definitely, need to work on my interviewing techniques.

    So far this week I have had an inorganic chemistry test on acids and bases, along with a physics test on thermal physics and ideal gases. They both went OK, not amazing but decent enough. I have an organic test tomorrow on aromatic chemistry and a C4 paper on Friday. Once this is posted I'm going to get straight back to watching some E. Rintoul to help revise for Chemistry.

    On top of all that I have a presentation to give next Wednesday and have not yet decided a topic. I'm thinking about doing it on 'A world without Hydrogen Bonds.' What do you think? Does anyone have any suggestion of interesting chemistry topics that I can base a 15 min presentation on? I might do it on the Tripe Point and relate it to the thermal physics we have been doing in class.

    Finally as asked by Kirri01, I will try and give some tips:
    Work Experience
    • To get my work experience I looked at the outreach web pages for the local universities to see if they were offering any. Try to organise WE independently, as it will look a lot better on your personal statement.
    • These placements can be hard to get, as there are lots of different people applying (or at least there was in my case.) Speaking to the supervisor that I did my work experience with he said the most important things that they look for when selecting students is enthusiasm. (+ a great reference from your teacher always helps!)
    • Make the most of the experience. I think to begin with I was a bit too nervous. Its such a great opportunity to spend more time doing a subject you potentially want to study so use this time to make sure it's for you. and just have fun!!

    Applying for Uni
    • My application experience was really stressful because I left it so late! If you are early application, make sure to use summer to get some of it done.
    • Make sure you have done enough research for the universities you are considering. https://unistats.ac.uk/ is really good for finding more out about different institutions and getting an honest opinion from recent graduates.
    • It's a lot easier to cut down your personal statement from too many characters than you think! It's much better to be over than under in my opinion, as I'm sure you have plenty of great things you want to tell the admissions tutors about yourself.
    • If you have read a book over summer, you probably won't have time to do so before any interviews, so I don't recommend putting it in your statement unless your 100% certain you can read it in time. We've all heard the stories about people who have been interviewed by the author of a book they put on their personal statement but didn't ever read. (Spoiler: they got told to leave the interview.)

    I'm probably not the best person to give advise as I haven't yet completed the process, but hope these kind offff help?!?!1?

    Revision Snack of the Week: Nutty Nibbles by arden
    Revision Drink of the Week: Almond milk
    Currently Reading: Periodic Tales by Hugh Aldersey-Williams
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    Aww, hope your NSAA test went better than you think it did. And thank youu, I'm practically clueless so all advice helps
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    18th November 2017

    Hey gang!

    So it's been a lot and kind of stressful week, lots of work as well as an academic presentation that I had to prepare for. Despite how badly NSAA went, I got an invite for an interview at Caius yesterday. The date hasn't been confirmed yet, but it's 4-8th Dec. This morning I also received my offer from UCL, after going to the informal interview day thingggg.

    Work wise, last week I had 4 tests. Two chemistry, one Physics and a C4 paper.
    Organic Chemistry:
    This went OK, considering I didn't really revise too much as I had an interview the next day that I was preparing for. I think I got like 74%?
    Inorganic Chemistry:
    This test was fine, it was on Acids and Bases and I did a fair amount of revisions with E.Rintoul of course!! I made a couple of small mistakes but got 89%, so pretty happy.
    Thermal Physics:
    Thermal Physics has been one of my favourite topics this year in Physics. I didn't do much revision for this actually, I can't really remember why not. I found it quite easy and only lost marks where I didn't write enough detail in my answers. I think I got 88% for this, which is fine!!
    C4:
    I did lots of papers for this, and it really helped. I struggled with knowing how to approach questions a bit, ie. whether to use implicit differentiation or not. Exam went fine, bit of time pressure but nothing major. I finished with 87% i think.

    Now that my presentation, admissions test is over I'm hoping everything will calm down a bit and I can really get on with my revision. I've only got Cambridge and Imperial interviews left (Durham don't interview), and then that's over. I've finished my C4 lessons, but to stay on top of the maths, I'm planning on doing a C4 or C3 paper each week, alternating between them. Hopefully this will help push my average C4 ums over and above 90, so that I'm safe for the summer. I've worked out that to get an A in my Further Maths AS i need 48 ums in M2, so although it's not the easiest module, I'm feeling quite relaxed about it.

    My target for this coming week is to master some more mechanisms in Chemistry, especially Nucleophilic Addition-Elimination reactions

    Update on Unis:

    Cambridge University
    Date acknowledged: 13/10/17
    Status: Invited for interview 17/11/17

    Interview date: 4-8th December

    Imperial College
    Date Acknowledged: 14/10/17
    Status: Invited for interview 26/10/17

    Interview date: 29/11/17

    Durham
    Date acknowledged: 24/10/17
    Status: Yet to respond

    UCL
    Date acknowledged: 13/10/17
    Status: Offer AAA

    Nottingham University
    Date acknowledged: 16/10/17
    Status: Offer ABB with A in Chemistry


    Revision Snack of the Week: Chocolate covered rice cakes
    Revision Drink of the Week: Cappucino
    Movie of the week : Anything my Taika Waititi (Hunt for the wilderpeople or What we do in the shadows are classics!!)
    Currently Reading: Why chemical reactions happen?
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    So glad to see that you got an interview at Cambridge!!! Hope that the test scores are as good as you hope they are!
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    (Original post by bookloverlolly)
    So glad to see that you got an interview at Cambridge!!! Hope that the test scores are as good as you hope they are!
    Ahh thanks!!! Oh ahaha I have already got the test results back I just couldn’t remember exactly what a few of them were ☺️
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