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Grow Your Grades: vnayak's journey to getting top grades and getting into Imperial

This is my journey of revision up to the A level exams. I aim to update everyday as to what I did today.

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Reply 1
31/01/2024 - Established my GYG blog. I looked at Skeleton Code for 30 minutes during my lunchtime at school. I worked on my Computer Science NEA for 3 and a half hours.
Hi welcome to GYG! Am I right in thinking you've got an offer for imperial and you're trying to get the grades for it now? Anyway I believe in you!
Reply 3
Original post by study23!
Hi welcome to GYG! Am I right in thinking you've got an offer for imperial and you're trying to get the grades for it now? Anyway I believe in you!

Yes you are correct! I am doing my best to meet my offer conditions and the STEP requirement.
I have to achieve A*AAA and get Grade 2 in STEP II.

A* - Maths
A - Chemistry
A - Further Maths
A - Computer Science

and I have to score roughly 55-60/120 to get grade 2.

Thank you and I wish you the best of luck for your own decisions!
(edited 3 weeks ago)
Original post by vnayak
Yes you are correct! I am doing my best to meet my offer conditions and the STEP requirement.
I have to achieve A*AAA and get Grade 2 in STEP II.

A* - Maths
A - Chemistry
A - Further Maths
A - Computer Science

and I have to score roughly 55-60/120 to get grade 2.

Thank you and I wish you the best of luck for your own decisions!

Wow, that a high offer but if you’ve been accepted by imperial I’m 💯 sure you can do it! And idk much about step but I’m sure you’ll do well there too!
Reply 5
Original post by study23!
Wow, that a high offer but if you’ve been accepted by imperial I’m 💯 sure you can do it! And idk much about step but I’m sure you’ll do well there too!

Thank you for your confidence! I'm predicted 5 A*s (I also do EPQ) and it's something I hope to emulate in the actual thing. The STEP is a horrible Maths paper you sit during your A levels and it is usually sat by Maths applicants at top universities (Cambridge, Imperial, Warwick to name a few) but Imperial also requires it for Computing.
Original post by vnayak
Thank you for your confidence! I'm predicted 5 A*s (I also do EPQ) and it's something I hope to emulate in the actual thing. The STEP is a horrible Maths paper you sit during your A levels and it is usually sat by Maths applicants at top universities (Cambridge, Imperial, Warwick to name a few) but Imperial also requires it for Computing.

Oh gosh 5 a levels?! I started off with 5 doing welsh BAC (like a longer EPQ with extra things to do) but I dropped it since I was doing lots of extracurriculars and research outside. I’m hoping for 4A*s in my subjects 🤞🤞🤞

Also odd that they make you do it in y13, i thought most admission tests (or at least UCAT for me) are Year 12.
Reply 7
Original post by study23!
Oh gosh 5 a levels?! I started off with 5 doing welsh BAC (like a longer EPQ with extra things to do) but I dropped it since I was doing lots of extracurriculars and research outside. I’m hoping for 4A*s in my subjects 🤞🤞🤞

Also odd that they make you do it in y13, i thought most admission tests (or at least UCAT for me) are Year 12.

They are usually in autumn of year 13 (always). The UCAT and the STEP are the only exceptions to this. UCAT is sat either in the summer holidays of year 12 or early year 13 as some people did in my year. All of the others are sat in mid-late October to early November in some cases. The STEP is sat in summer of year 13 because it requires Further Maths content and is WAY harder than A level Further Maths. If anything, it makes it look like a cakewalk. I don't think Further Maths is that hard content-wise - it's just more of it- but the STEP is the stuff of nightmares honestly!
Original post by vnayak
They are usually in autumn of year 13 (always). The UCAT and the STEP are the only exceptions to this. UCAT is sat either in the summer holidays of year 12 or early year 13 as some people did in my year. All of the others are sat in mid-late October to early November in some cases. The STEP is sat in summer of year 13 because it requires Further Maths content and is WAY harder than A level Further Maths. If anything, it makes it look like a cakewalk. I don't think Further Maths is that hard content-wise - it's just more of it- but the STEP is the stuff of nightmares honestly!

omg, I’m glad I didn’t go down the computing route (was considering for a while). And I’m taking fm now and as you said it’s not content but I couldn’t imagine learning harder stuff for an admissions test!! You’re honestly such a trooper to me trying for it
Reply 9
Original post by study23!
omg, I’m glad I didn’t go down the computing route (was considering for a while). And I’m taking fm now and as you said it’s not content but I couldn’t imagine learning harder stuff for an admissions test!! You’re honestly such a trooper to me trying for it

❤️ but the STEP doesn't actually have any new content. It's just that the STEP questions are abstracted to a level way beyond A level standard that it makes it impossible. Also, it's very much proof-based which makes it impossible for me because I don't like proof.
Reply 10
Day 2: I spent two hours working on my Computer Science NEA and have set a deadline for myself for the 6th of February next week so that I can focus on mocks revision for the next 20 days. I also have a Further Stats mock on the 13th of February so I have to prepare for that as well.
Original post by vnayak
Day 2: I spent two hours working on my Computer Science NEA and have set a deadline for myself for the 6th of February next week so that I can focus on mocks revision for the next 20 days. I also have a Further Stats mock on the 13th of February so I have to prepare for that as well.

Good luck! :yep:
Reply 12
Original post by 5hyl33n
Good luck! :yep:

Thank you!
(edited 3 weeks ago)
Reply 13
Day 3 (3rd Feb) - I spent 3 hours doing STEP papers and modules. I managed to do one question fully in the STEP II 2007 paper and partial answers for the rest of it. After that, I worked on my NEA for 10 hours. The logic element is complete but I need to break the program down into smaller modules so that it incorporates better programming style.
Reply 14
Day 4 (4th Feb) - I spent approximately 10 hours editing and testing my NEA so as to ensure that it is perfect and nothing unprecedented happens upon receiving rogue inputs. I also added all of the comments required to my code to perfect it. I am now going to work on my documentation and ensure that it is up to scratch and up to date before completing a testing video for my project.
Original post by vnayak
Day 4 (4th Feb) - I spent approximately 10 hours editing and testing my NEA so as to ensure that it is perfect and nothing unprecedented happens upon receiving rogue inputs. I also added all of the comments required to my code to perfect it. I am now going to work on my documentation and ensure that it is up to scratch and up to date before completing a testing video for my project.

Dedicated 😨 but you're doing amazingly well done
Reply 16
Original post by study23!
Dedicated 😨 but you're doing amazingly well done

Thank you so much! I try to do my best in the weekends to make up for the lack of work done during the school week. I generally do about 3 hours of work on a school night (maybe more if I am able to sneak my devices in to my room during the night), which isn't too bad.

Also, I have an extremely high focus tolerance. I can focus for two hours straight when I have no exams before needing to take a break, which means that my study time isn't as segmented as the Pomodorro. Also, with Pomodorro, while it does ensure that I switch between topics, I feel like I am only scraping the surface for certain topics with only 25 minutes of study time. Also, 5 mins break is like nothing so it's far better for me to do long amounts of time and then longer breaks.

I'm trying to get the highest mark I can possibly get for my NEA because I only need an A in Computing. If I do well in this, it takes the pressure off by A LOT because I only need ~59% to get an A in A level CS. Also, I have two doubles during A level exams and on both days, it's Chemistry and CS.

CS paper 2 is fine. CS paper 1 theory is fine. The skeleton code is sketchy but I understand it. The NEA is the last component. The whole thing is out of 375. Last year, A grade was 237. If I score around 50 (but I hope for higher), I only need 187 marks out of 300, which I think is attainable. Even if I have segmented code for the skeleton code challenges, I should be OK because I will still get partial marks for it.
Original post by vnayak
Thank you so much! I try to do my best in the weekends to make up for the lack of work done during the school week. I generally do about 3 hours of work on a school night (maybe more if I am able to sneak my devices in to my room during the night), which isn't too bad.

Also, I have an extremely high focus tolerance. I can focus for two hours straight when I have no exams before needing to take a break, which means that my study time isn't as segmented as the Pomodorro. Also, with Pomodorro, while it does ensure that I switch between topics, I feel like I am only scraping the surface for certain topics with only 25 minutes of study time. Also, 5 mins break is like nothing so it's far better for me to do long amounts of time and then longer breaks.

I'm trying to get the highest mark I can possibly get for my NEA because I only need an A in Computing. If I do well in this, it takes the pressure off by A LOT because I only need ~59% to get an A in A level CS. Also, I have two doubles during A level exams and on both days, it's Chemistry and CS.

CS paper 2 is fine. CS paper 1 theory is fine. The skeleton code is sketchy but I understand it. The NEA is the last component. The whole thing is out of 375. Last year, A grade was 237. If I score around 50 (but I hope for higher), I only need 187 marks out of 300, which I think is attainable. Even if I have segmented code for the skeleton code challenges, I should be OK because I will still get partial marks for it.

I can't handle pomodoro either, as you said, by the time the timer stops I've only just gotten into the harder stuff of revision.

Those doubles are nasty, especially since it's the same two subjects! As you're already doing, probably best to get the high NEA mark to help chances overall
Reply 18
Original post by study23!
I can't handle pomodoro either, as you said, by the time the timer stops I've only just gotten into the harder stuff of revision.

Those doubles are nasty, especially since it's the same two subjects! As you're already doing, probably best to get the high NEA mark to help chances overall

Pomodorro is good if you need a quick refresher but I'm not a fan when you need to explore a topic in depth (like NMR, Polymers and literally all of the mechanisms in chemistry or vectors in Core Pure 1 in Further Maths).

I don't have any plan in place lol but it seems that I am relatively organised whilst at the same time, I'm not organised lol. If I get my NEA out of the way, I can focus solely on mocks and STEP prep, which I haven't been able to say in a long, long time.

I'm doing decently in Chemistry but room for improvement (high A) and with a bit more work, I should be able to push to an A*. Computing is the shaky one because the mark scheme is so triggering. Further Maths - barring the vectors topic in CP1 and having to memorise the methods in complex numbers in CP2, I think I'm doing decently. Maths is absolutely fine. No work needed whatsoever so I think I'm extremely fortunate that way.
Original post by vnayak
Pomodorro is good if you need a quick refresher but I'm not a fan when you need to explore a topic in depth (like NMR, Polymers and literally all of the mechanisms in chemistry or vectors in Core Pure 1 in Further Maths).

I don't have any plan in place lol but it seems that I am relatively organised whilst at the same time, I'm not organised lol. If I get my NEA out of the way, I can focus solely on mocks and STEP prep, which I haven't been able to say in a long, long time.

I'm doing decently in Chemistry but room for improvement (high A) and with a bit more work, I should be able to push to an A*. Computing is the shaky one because the mark scheme is so triggering. Further Maths - barring the vectors topic in CP1 and having to memorise the methods in complex numbers in CP2, I think I'm doing decently. Maths is absolutely fine. No work needed whatsoever so I think I'm extremely fortunate that way.

I feel same for maths. FM I'm shaky but my teachers are also cancelling so many lessons that I feel like I don't get taught (still need to do more revision). Chem I'm probably about a A/B atm, hoping for an A in AS to help me for next year. And then bio I'm mostly fine with.

Also the being organised but not is so real 😂 but I guess the GYG helps

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