6 Months to Get into University - Will I Ever Become A Teacher? Grow Your Grades Blog Watch

codiethompson
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GROW YOUR GRADES - A LEVELS 2020

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ALL UPDATES WILL BE MADE ON THE ORIGINAL POST - DATES WILL BE INCLUDED WITH EACH UPDATE WHICH WILL TYPICALLY BE WITHIN THE SPECIFIC SUBJECT SPOILERS - THIS IS TO STOP INFORMATION GETTING LOST BELOW SO ALL INFORMATION CAN BE EASILY ACCESSED BY ANYBODY WHO NEEDS IT

Hello! Welcome to my Grow Your Grades blog! My name is Codie, and I am a year 13 student studying Biology, English Literature, History and Level 3 Mathematical Studies. I work part time in my local bakery on weekends, go to sixth-form full time, all while trying to balance looking after my pets, studying, spending time with family and friends and overall having a healthy work-life balance.
I must admit, I am very average when it comes to my grades. I'm not doing so well when starting this blog, so this blog will mainly be my record of different revision techniques, progress I'm making using them, and any other resource I find helpful, because maybe you will too! :woo:
All the relevant information you need is under the titles spoilers below, because then you don't have to read anything you don't want to know about!
Please feel free to comment to put this thread in your "watched threads" file on your account, or with any questions or anything you'd like me to cover!

GCSE RESULTS 2018
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EDEXCEL FOUNDATION Maths - 5
AQA English Language - 6
AQA English Literature - 8
AQA Biology - 6
AQA Chemistry - 6
AQA FOUNDATION Physics - 5
AQA FOUNDATION Spanish - 5
WJEC Drama - 6
EDEXCEL History - 6
PEARSON BTEC Health and Social Care - Distinction Star
PEARSON BTEC Creative Digital Media - Distinction Star

HOW I PICKED MY A LEVELS
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In my sixth form, subjects were split into columns and only one subject could be picked from each. This is because each column ran those subjects at the same time. We had an initial assembly in year 11, where we chose which subjects we wanted to do, so they could form the table to meet as many of our wishes as possible. I didn't know what I wanted to study at this point, so I placed my initial choices as English Language and Health and Social (Double Award). Over time, I began to realise which subjects I enjoyed the most, as my desired career didn't need any specific A Levels. This led to me wanting to do English Language, Biology, History and Drama. On results day, I realised I had done better than I thought in some subjects, and decided I didn't want to do Drama anymore. This led to my 3 choices, English Literature, Biology and History. A couple months into year 12, I was asked to begin studying Core Maths to improve my maths skills within Biology, leading to the 4 options I study today.

MY YEAR 12 EXPERIENCE
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I automatically found myself preferring biology, making countless revision resources and stuffing them all in a folder (thank you year 12 me). However, I did end up neglecting my other subjects, leaving me in a difficult situation today. Once January 2019 hit me, I began spiralling into chaos. I found that the content was getting more intense, along with homework. Everything suddenly became a lot more difficult and I began to panic. I stopped making resources, stopped doing that extra revision that was helping me and was adamant I didn't want or need help from anyone. Big mistake. My grades didn't go down, but they didn't improve, so the rest of my classes were achieving As and Bs, while I was still sat on the grades I had when I came in. This has all led to today, where I am trying to share my experience with other people so they can see a realistic version of A Levels and how to cope with them.

UCAS TRACK
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I applied on 31/10/19 to 5 universities, hoping to study Primary Education with QTS; Here's what happened.

EDGE HILL UNIVERSITY
Invited to interview - 1/11/19
Offer received - 14/11/19, 120 UCAS Points, DBS and Occupational Health Checks

LEEDS BECKETT UNIVERSITY
Invited to Interview - 4/11/19
Application Withdrew - 18/11/19

UNIVERSITY OF SUNDERLAND
Invited to Interview - 7/11/19
Offer Received - 15/11/19, 120 UCAS Points, DBS and Occupational Health Checks
FIRMLY ACCEPTED

UNIVERSITY OF CUMBRIA
Invited to Interview - 5/11/19
Offer Received - 27/11/19, 104 UCAS Points, DBS and Occupational Health Checks
HELD AS INSURANCE

LIVERPOOL JOHN MOORES UNIVERSITY
Invited to Interview - 12/11/19
Offer Received - 6/12/19, 120 UCAS Points, DBS, and Occupational Health Checks

YEAR 13 MOCK RESULTS - NOVEMBER 2019
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English Lit - D
Maths - D
Biology - E
History - E

OCR A A LEVEL BIOLOGY
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This course consists of 3 exam papers. A Depth, Breadth and Mixed paper. Questions are made up of 1 mark multiple choice questions, fill in the blank, and longer 6 mark essay questions
In this subject, I am predicted a C. In my November 2019 mocks, I achieved an E. In my January 2020 mocks, I achieved a D
10/01/2020 - My teachers have placed me on one intervention session and one set study session per week. These are to be done during frees that we set together and written and dated in a book which can be spot-checked at any time. The intervention session is with a teacher, who takes a register, and punishments are given to those who don't attend. During this time we are expected to do questions from the CGP Exam Question Workbooks, physicsandmathstutor.com or the set of exam questions on our school system. Set study is where we do whatever we want to aid our revision, such as making notes, flashcards or doing more exam questions. During intervention I completed a set of questions on Biological Molecules and achieved 21/34, so I need to improve my application for that topic. I then completed another set of exam questions for cell structure during my set study and achieved 7/21, showing I need to improve knowledge as well as application. I then did some blurting for Transport in Animals, showing me I need to revise the Lymphatic System. Blurting is when you write down everything you remember from a certain topic, using the book to write down subtitles if needed. Then, once you've exhausted your knowledge, go back through with a different colour and fill in missing information using the textbook or your own notes. I find this really helpful in finding out where to target my revision.
07/02/2020 - I have recently done the 2019 Paper 3 as a mock. I achieved a D, meaning I've improved by 1 grade in about a month and half . My teacher compared our results with the national averages and the averages for last years year 13s in my school, and we are all on track for achieving our target grades, with our average placing us half a grade behind where we need to be despite not learning all the content yet. He has suggested that we create a key word "bank" with definitions and examples of the word in sentences, as the mark schemes are very specific about terminology and will not award marks for vague or unspecific answers. We went to the Centre for Life in Newcastle to do an experiment in DNA sequencing. I personally did not find the experiment itself useful, but there were paper activities which allowed you do visualise what was happening at each stage of the experiment to see what was going on and understand it better. However, with one teacher, we seem to be moving slowly with our work, meaning she's starting to rush to get us where we need to be and it's becoming difficult to understand. I'm going to start reading ahead and writing notes to help my understanding and reassure me that I have the knowledge if we don't finish the course on time.

AQA A A LEVEL ENGLISH LITERATURE
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This course consists of 2 papers, Modern Literature and Love Through The Ages. The texts I study as part of this course include: The Great Gatsby, The AQA A Love Anthology Pre 1900, The Taming of The Shrew, Skirrid Hill, The Handmaid's Tale, and A Streetcar Named Desire.
In this subject, I am predicted a B. In my November 2019 mocks, I achieved a D

08/01/2020 - One of our teachers suggested going into year 12 lessons as they are getting taught the same books as us. This way we can refresh our memory of the book and get some new ideas from a different group of people and work out any misunderstandings we may have had as a class, as over the past 2 years we've had 5 different teachers! So sometimes information could have been forgotten. Due to my timetable, I will be unable to find the time to attend these sessions, but I feel like I understand the books well, so it's not that big of an issue, but it is inconvenient. If anyone is struggling with their texts in any way, maybe this could be something you could do with your school?
22/01/2020 - my teachers still aren't marking my work properly, even after multiple parent and teacher complaints. Only one teacher is in at a time, meaning we miss out on lessons that we could actually do with having. My grades are dropping along with everyone else's in the class. I've made an enquiry to a local agency about getting a home tutor.
07/02/2020 - one of my English teachers is really poorly and won't be coming back for a long time. We have been given a different teacher to cover her paper while she is gone. This teacher is on a reduced timetable and has lots of time to work with us, mark our work and give us improvements. She's even started doing after school revision sessions with us. I feel like my chances of improving my grade have increased with this new teacher and I hope it's not too late to save my grades
11/02/2020 - I have been set a deadline to have my NEA completed, handed in, never to be seen again until I get a final mark on it for the 25th of February. I'm quite far off finishing after getting feedback and being told I had misunderstood my question and needing to restructure my argument last week. I'm working hard and I'm about 20% through my new answer. As this is worth 10% of my grade, my teachers don't want us working on it for much longer, but I'd still rather know I've got 10% in the bag and ready to go in case my exams don't go as well as I'd hoped.
11/02/2020 - I attended my first revision session today where we got given a list of key quotes from different chapters in The Great Gatsby and had to analyse them using the questions written underneath them. This was good for helping us pick out symbolism and find outside-the-text meanings. This has also helped us develop our skills for when it comes to analysing quotes in unseen texts, as even though we have read Gatsby the techniques can be transferred.

AQA A LEVEL HISTORY OPTIONS 1F AND 2R
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This course consists of two written exam papers and an NEA. My written papers are on Industrialisation in Britain and The Cold War. My NEA was my choice and therefore my focus is on the significance of MLK JR on the achievement of civil rights in America between 1863-1968.
In this subject, I am predicted a B. In my November 2019 mocks I achieved an E.

07/01/2020 - Today was the first day back at school, and one of my history teachers suggested to the class that we sit in on some year 12 lessons if our timetable would allow it in order to revise and re-cover some older content, rather than only focusing on content we're doing now. Our school gives us 5 contact hours with teachers, in my case this is split 2 hours studying the Cold War and 2 hours studying Industrialisation, and the last hour focusing on coursework. My timetable allows me to sit in on 2 year 12 Industrialisation lessons and 1 Cold War lesson. As I did Cold War for GCSE and already know the basics, this is ideal as Industrialisation is my weaker area, but it still allows me to work on earlier Cold War content and help me target my revision a bit better based on what the year 12s are learning. I am going to start attending these sessions next week, and will update you all on how effective I feel this will be for me.
10/01/2020 - I handed in an essay to be marked 2 days ago and was given it back today. I was placed in band 3 of the mark scheme due to my lack of development in points. My plan for the weekend is to redraft this essay and make improvements to my NEA based on the workbook I bought over the Christmas break that breaks down every part of your NEA, from choosing a topic, writing your essay and footnoting, (anyone struggling with coursework for this subject, if you want the book you can get a sample of it here, or buy it from here for £5.99 [correct at time of writing] as the book updates as new changes are made to the mark scheme) If I get any extra work done that would be good, but I prefer to give myself small goals to start off with and that way I'm not overly stressed about having not completed everything I set out to do.
18/01/2020 - My teachers are beginning to set us targeted revision by doing knowledge quizzes with us, for example - the most recent quiz I did in the cold war shown me my knowledge on Angola is good but I need to improve my understanding of what happened in Chile and Grenada. My other teacher has set us homework to revise specific aspects to be able to do the quizzes later, such as this week the focus is on the French Revolution and its impact on Britain, while continuing learning the last few pages of the text book.
22/01/2020 - I feel like nothings working, I get asked questions in the year 12 lessons I don't know the answer to, and my revision isn't sinking in. I've made an enquiry to a local agency about getting a home tutor.
07/02/2020 - I have started sessions with a home tutor, which mainly focuses on question sessions and discussions to improve my understanding. This was a really good idea for me personally as in lessons I feel like I have to compete to answer questions and the more intelligent students get there first, meaning we don't really go back over anything since the teacher thinks we're fine. The home tutor allows me to think for myself and recall knowledge that I didn't know I had. It is a bit expensive for what it is, considering I have teachers at school who are supposed to help me, but it is really worth it.

AQA LEVEL 3 CERTIFICATE IN MATHEMATICAL STUDIES
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This is a 2 year course with the point equivalent of one AS level subject. This course consists of many modules that are already on the GCSE papers, along with new, more relevant topics such as personal finance and project management. It is essentially a combination between business and mathematics. There are 2 papers. Paper 1 is compulsory for the course whereas paper 2 has many options that your teacher can choose from to create the course for your class.
In this subject I am predicted a B, in November 2019 I achieved a grade C in my mock

08/01/2020 - We have one lesson left until we have completed the entire course. This gives us plenty of time to revise within lessons, which would be 2 hours a week. This way I can work out what I don't know, and get retaught it, along with being able to lots and lots of practice questions!
07/02/2020 - I have a paper 2b mock next week, to prepare for this I have been working from the textbook and completing practice papers. Unfortunately I have to limit how many questions and papers I do in preparation for this mock as there are limited resources due to the course being fairly new and unpopular. This is a bit annoying but it means I have to make sure I know what I'm doing and familiarise myself with techniques and mark schemes.
11/02/2020 - I completed a practice paper as part of my revision today, to prep myself for my mock tomorrow (it's an informal mock as it's in a classroom not the exam hall but it's the last one I'll be doing) and according to the individual mark scheme for that specific paper I got a B, and was about 3 marks off an A, which is the highest grade you can get in this course. I'm really pleased with that as that was a real exam paper that someone's sat. I started doing a second paper created by oxford which is a lot harder, but its reassuring I can do well in real exam papers.

HOW I ORGANISE MY NOTES
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I organise my notes in very similar ways. Each subject has been assigned a colour, as my teachers give us specific coloured books to work in. For this example, I will use biology. To me, biology is green. This means the folder for my biology work is also green, along with the books I write in. As I have huge handwriting, I have gone through about 10-15 work book in the past year and a half, meaning my notes have gotten messy and confusing. In this folder, I have a set of 31 dividers with a contents page saying what's behind each. On this, I have wrote down every single topic I am learning. The left over dividers have been used to label areas for blurting, exam questions, maths skills, specific experiments, flash cards and quizzes. The divider that has flashcards in contains a punched pocket folder so I can keep all my cards in one place. Behind a specific subject divider, there is an opening page with all the subtopics written down. For example, the divider may be labelled "Cell Structure" then the opening page will have "Eukaryotic Cells - Function, Structure, Organelles" etc. This is important as it tricks my brain into thinking I've got small bits to revise, so instead of thinking that I have all of the cell structure chapter to revise, I can limit myself to just one or two subtopics and eventually work through the chapter by focusing on the harder subtopics, instead of thinking I already know everything. Then, each divider contains all the notes from that topic, which stops me wasting time looking through my work books for them notes. All my work books and text books are then kept in magazine holders, which keeps them all easily accessible if I ever need to look back through worked examples or printed diagrams.
English and History have similar approaches, all content and context is recorded and placed into folders, with dividers clarifying what's in each. Then, I will have a page or few pages with types up exam questions that I can work through and practice my application with. Each attempt will be graded by my teachers then placed in a plastic wallet which will contain attempts from the same question so I can see and record my progress.
To record my revision, I have made a spreadsheet where I record the date, subject, topic and what I did that day, so I can look back through and make sure I haven't missed any parts of the syllabus.


THINGS KEEP GOING WRONG
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22/01/2020 - Things keep going wrong. My grades are dropping, my health is getting worse and i'm always exhausted. I'm putting 100% effort into everything, with my essays either getting skimmed over, lost, or not marked for weeks. I've asked for home tutors and am yet to hear back. I shouldn't have to be getting outside help for something that my teachers are supposed to be doing. The next few months are going to be rough and I don't know how much more I can take. I really hope that the end results are worth it, and that I get into my dream uni to do my dream course and pursue a career in education. In a way, the fact that things keep going wrong is only fuelling me, as I vow to never be the teacher that causes children to have to get home tuition because I can't be bothered to do my job.
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brainzistheword
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Happy New Year and good luck with your studies! What pets do you have? :gah:
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lphistory
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Good luck with your blog!! Do you think you'll go into primary or secondary teaching?
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codiethompson
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(Original post by brainzistheword)
Happy New Year and good luck with your studies! What pets do you have? :gah:
Happy New Year to you too! I have 2 horses and a dog
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brainzistheword
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(Original post by codiethompson)
Happy New Year to you too! I have 2 horses and a dog
Amazing! A number of my school friends have gone to Edge Hill and there's one who is studying Primary Education. She's loving it so far
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codiethompson
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(Original post by lphistory)
Good luck with your blog!! Do you think you'll go into primary or secondary teaching?
I’ve applied to do primary, purely because I love the fact there’s more variety in what you teach, you don’t have to teach just one subject every single day, and that way I can keep working on my knowledge! Plus with work experience I’ve found that younger children tend to be more enthusiastic about learning and that if you want to make an impact and encourage a love of education you need to do it while kids are young
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lphistory
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(Original post by codiethompson)
I’ve applied to do primary, purely because I love the fact there’s more variety in what you teach, you don’t have to teach just one subject every single day, and that way I can keep working on my knowledge! Plus with work experience I’ve found that younger children tend to be more enthusiastic about learning and that if you want to make an impact and encourage a love of education you need to do it while kids are young
That sounds epic!! I'm interested in teaching, but for secondary. You sound genuinely passionate about it and what you'll be doing!
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J.555
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I also do English Literature but the board Edexcel. I'm also in year 13 and it's not going so great. My grades for the subject are looking high, so I wondering whether you had some tips on how I could improve and gain a high grade in the short time we have left before exams.
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codiethompson
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(Original post by J.555)
I also do English Literature but the board Edexcel. I'm also in year 13 and it's not going so great. My grades for the subject are looking high, so I wondering whether you had some tips on how I could improve and gain a high grade in the short time we have left before exams.
I'm assuming that the exam structures are quite similar for this but here's what I'm doing:
I'm starting to do practice essays for my teachers and asking them to mark them, they probably won't get back to me straight away and a little nagging won't hurt. I have a teacher who is a lazy marker and doesn't really give any constructive feedback so I have to rely on the feedback from my other teacher - which is why my mock result was low - so i'm planning on speaking to her about it
Today one of my teachers suggested sitting in on her year 12 lessons since they're about to start learning one of the books we need for our exam, so that way we can go in, get fresh interpretations and revise the content - i'm not sure if your school could do this but make sure you see! I unfortunately can't sit in on any due to my timetable but i'm doing it in history and it's more helpful than you'd think!
these are the only things i'm doing right now since school's only just started back and everythings a bit of a mess at the minute, but if you check back on this thread regularly and look under the English Literature spoiler I'll be recording any techniques and resources in there if you need to find something else to help
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J.555
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(Original post by codiethompson)
I'm assuming that the exam structures are quite similar for this but here's what I'm doing:
I'm starting to do practice essays for my teachers and asking them to mark them, they probably won't get back to me straight away and a little nagging won't hurt. I have a teacher who is a lazy marker and doesn't really give any constructive feedback so I have to rely on the feedback from my other teacher - which is why my mock result was low - so i'm planning on speaking to her about it
Today one of my teachers suggested sitting in on her year 12 lessons since they're about to start learning one of the books we need for our exam, so that way we can go in, get fresh interpretations and revise the content - i'm not sure if your school could do this but make sure you see! I unfortunately can't sit in on any due to my timetable but i'm doing it in history and it's more helpful than you'd think!
these are the only things i'm doing right now since school's only just started back and everythings a bit of a mess at the minute, but if you check back on this thread regularly and look under the English Literature spoiler I'll be recording any techniques and resources in there if you need to find something else to help
Submit replyI hope you will achieve what you desire and that your teachers miraculously become helpful. Thank you so much for the advice and for creating this thread. I'll be sure to check back.
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codiethompson
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Hi!
As its half term now, I thought i'd bump this thread so people can see the progress made so far and what techniques are currently working for me in my subjects
Remember - all updates are made to the ORIGINAL post in this blog under the respective headers, so check back every now and then to see what's changed
Feel free to comment any questions
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AmberDalia
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(Original post by codiethompson)
Hi!
As its half term now, I thought i'd bump this thread so people can see the progress made so far and what techniques are currently working for me in my subjects
Remember - all updates are made to the ORIGINAL post in this blog under the respective headers, so check back every now and then to see what's changed
Feel free to comment any questions
Hi u should add posts underneath here so it's not just one loongg post at the top.
Good luck with your studies ☺️
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codiethompson
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(Original post by AmberDalia)
Hi u should add posts underneath here so it's not just one loongg post at the top.
Good luck with your studies ☺️
Hi
The reason behind me adding everything to the first post is so then people don't have to scroll through pages and pages of comments looking for ones that theyre actually interested in - eg if theyre only interested in biology revision they can quickly go to the top and look under the biology spoiler rather than scroll through lots of comments about different subjects since I feel like that'll be the better system
However I will continue to post underneath and different intervals to bump the thread and remind people to check back in on it
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