Posted in Revision & School

Last Few Days of Freedom…

So, this is one of those revision posts… with a difference.

If you’re a student, and you live on the planet Earth, then you’ll know that exams are fast approaching. And before I continue with this post, I’d just like to stress that these exams aren’t the end of the world. It’s worth lodging that in your mind – I have to keep reminding myself that if I fail, I won’t look out of the window to see Armageddon.

On a serious note, just because there is a delay in your master plan, or you don’t get the grades you want, it doesn’t mean the end of the road and certainly doesn’t mean you’ve failed.

I wholeheartedly wish you success this summer, and want to share a couple of tips (completely unrelated to revision techniques – which may seem a little controversial) to spur you through these dark days (I never said it would be easy 🙂 ) It’s about trying to set yourself up for the mad study sessions in these final few days of freedom before exam season:

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A collage, candle and laptop (ready to play Hurts) are the staples of my desk space.
  • Find your go-to spark plug – whether that’s lighting a candle, or playing a certain artist. If I’m about to embark on some hairy task, I like to listen to Hurts. Find your spark to start you off on a marathon revision session.
  • Print a couple of photos out – of friends, family, your favourite place. Keep them pinned up near your desk, so you can see that you’re not alone.
  • Share your progress with friends. My friends had the brilliant initiative of setting up a Quizlet class, to share geography notes, and it’s been a lifesaver to get through the colossal mountain of content. Stuck on a topic – video chat a friend for help, ‘trade’ them for something they are struggling on. Trying to ace an essay – make a mind map of ideas, then see if your friend can add anything. The emphasis on this is to share, not steal.
  • Know when to walk away. It’s going to happen – you get stuck on a question, you feel like your spiralling, all seems impossible. Know when to walk away, take five minutes to make small talk with family, stretch out your back and glimpse the sun or take the dog for a walk around the block. Chances are that by giving your brain a rest, you’re more likely to smash the problem.

 

That’s it from me. It’s short, but hopefully sweet. Wishing you all the best of success this summer – let me know how they go, and whether any of my revision ideas have been any help.                                                                                                                       – The Clever Owl

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Posted in Revision & School

My Go-To Revision List

I’ve tried to come up with an extensive list of different revision methods, apps and sources to fuel your revision. Try a couple, rule some out – this is simply a starting point for those beginning to revise for summer exams, and those who want to try some alternatives after their mocks. These revision techniques are not guaranteed to work, but you don’t know until you give some a go!

  • Multi-coloured pens are a must! Colour coordinate notes, make diagrams stand out, tempt your brain into revising from such pretty notes!
  • Condense topics into a single mind-map (colour coordinated, of course!) with key concepts and knowledge that you need to learn, rather than any waffle or facts you already know backwards.
  • Post-it Notes – I love post-it notes! Write down your timeline facts (can become a game of remembering their dates and putting the post-it notes in the correct order), condense case studies to a single post-it note, or write important theories on each note. The choice is yours!
  • Quizlet – the perfect website to learn definitions and recall facts. Whether it’s the act of typing them in, or the fun games and strategies it uses to help you learn them – Quizlet is fab for learning those short and snappy facts.
  • Memrise – another great app, for those learning a language. Take a look at my Owl Online review for more info. Also great after exams, if you want to learn a language for fun (yes, fun!)
  • Struggling to learn orders of things? Make up a short and snappy acronym. just make sure that your plots aren’t too extravagant!
  • Annotate excerpts and books blind – aka no notes for reference – to test how much knowledge you know. Similarly, if you struggle with time management, time yourself writing an answer or completing a paper for homework. Change pens once your time has run out and finish off your answers. This way, you know what you would have got in an exam, and what you could get if you write faster/ plan quicker/ invent time travel 🙂 Do this over time to train yourself to write faster and think under exam conditions (give it a go, especially if you suffer anxiety in exams).
  • Definitely complete past papers, but don’t just forget about them afterwards. Whip up a little spreadsheet (nothing fancy – you don’t need to be tech savy!) and record your scores every time you complete a paper. This will help you to access where you are at, and also which past papers to complete/ re-do in the all important run up to exams.
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One of my Further Maths spreadsheets. Very easy to do, should take 10 minutes to set up!
  • I’m currently teaching myself from
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    My physics spec – annotated and a work in progress!

    the subject’s specification and a textbook, ahead of lessons. This way, the lesson acts as revision and by combing through your subject twice, you and your teacher don’t miss any loose ends! Again, record your progress, and know what is left to learn. I snip chunks of the spec, then highlight the facts once I’ve learnt them (knowledge in yellow, formulas in pink, orange for content I want to go back and practice/relearn).

 

I hope this helps you to revise effectively and smash your exams this summer. Please let me know how your revision goes and whether any of these helped. If you’ve got any recommendations too, please leave them in the comments below – I’d love to hear them!

-The Clever Owl

Posted in Revision & School

Bounce Back from Mocks

My first post of 2018! Happy New Year! I’ve had to put my blog on the back-burner whilst studying for mocks (things got a little busy pre-Christmas). I’m back now, and want to get back into the swing of blogging and give my blog a little TLC! Ps – I’d love to hear from you , avid reader, and any feedback you have about my blog (especially negatives and improvements – you don’t grow if you never know how to!)

Similar to my blog, as a student you can never improve if you don’t know where you’re at. To be honest, as any person, the same is true; if you don’t want to improve mock scores, you want to ace work, your lifestyle, being a parent, your finances… And the list goes on!

However, as a college student, exams are my main concern and it can be especially hard to bounce back and grow from a tough mock that didn’t go as well as imagined. If you’ve received some unexpected results, it is perfectly normal and healthy to need a time out. Take a couple of days, let anything out of your system, take long and relaxing baths, hide your results in a corner (not forever, just until you find inner peace with them!).

I say unexpected, because having things go not to plan does not make it bad. We all have a difficult day or dip in the road. But if we didn’t make that mistake now, we’d never learn from it and risk making it instead in the real thing.

So, take time out, then come back fighting! Try new revision techniques, cover your papers with corrections & improvements, start your work earlier if timing was an issue, throw the kitchen sink at your subjects ( not physically!) for the next few weeks and see where that stands you. Most importantly, own your mistakes and your results. It’s the first stage to acing your learning and becoming – once again – confident in your abilities.

Not every revision technique is guaranteed to be a success, so trial a few new methods and some old classics from previous exams. A word of warning: what worked for you last year may not work for you this year. Be flexible about your strategies and revision methods.

I implore you, do not consider this THE END and give up the fight. Mocks are simply that – mocks – and are just a test to see where you’re at currently and what needs more work to get you to your end goal. Try not to see them as an intellectual beating and your only chance to succeed, see them as a challenge and an indicator of how to move forward.

As always, I’d love to hear how your studies are going and I’m always here if you want some more advice (I’ll try my best to help!)                                          – The Clever Owl

If you’re up for the challenge, why not take a look at some study posts I’ve written? It should give you a place to start in the un-climbable mountain that can be revision (but it doesn’t have to be! 🙂 ) It’s as simple as Uno, Deux & Three…

My go-to list of revision techniques and apps is coming soon!

 

 

Posted in Places to Visit, Revision & School

Oxford

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Pembroke College, Oxford

Update: Since part 2 half of the coach has left, including most of my friends.

Perk: for myself and my friend, we now have two rows of three to ourselves.

Con: there has been a major accident on the motorway. So we’re definitely going to need the extra room!

So, as I pass the outskirts of Crewe – red lights in front, the pure white light from the moon to my right – I write part 3 and hope there aren’t any traffic tailbacks yet…

Back to Oxford, and my work’s stacking up. My project is on gravitational waves (read my overview here) and we must produce an individual essay and A1 scientific poster. Let the work commence!

Others would grown at the thought of extra work in the summer holidays. But this is a real chance to experience life as an undergraduate student (minus the alcohol). And I have to say, I’m enjoying it!

Oxford and Cambridge have a particular focus on independence in learning – research, projects & essays, and their famous tutorial system (more on that to come).

A fellow explained that this is the reason the interview to get in is so fierce – Oxbridge are primarily testing you’re ability to cope with their style of teaching. It’s not them being mean. Oxbridge tutors simply don’t want to give you a place, for you to be unable to cope and crash. A couple of students had their first all-nighter on the summer school ( that’s studying all night, not drinking!). The summer school certainly taught us all a variety of demands and lessons about further education.

I’m going to fast forward to Friday (the day I’m currently writing this). We are each allocated a tutorial with a PhD mentor to discuss our assignments. I was anticipating it to be intense and a little scary, but the tutorial was fun. I’ll repeat that, mainly because I can’t believe I said it – the Oxford University tutorial was fun! We discussed my essay. I explained theory to him. He explained theory to me. The atmosphere was jovial and light, and at no point were my ideas (& mistakes) chastised or humiliated. Oxford – I’m surprised! 🙂

I feel like testing the water of a student’s workload has been hugely reassuring. If you’re a prospective student:

a) Sign up to a summer school. Trust me – finding out what kind of learning style you suit is hugely beneficial, especially when your education costs £27,000! Not to mention the skills and knowledge you’ll get from challenging yourself.

b) Complete your own individual assignment and try your hand at research. If you can’t find where to focus, ask your teacher to set you an Oxford- style task. Or if you’d like a hand, leave a comment below or message me via Instagram – I’d be happy to help!

Part 4 is on it’s way!

Posted in Random Ideas!, Revision & School

Summer Fun?

I joke, but summer isn’t just a time for fun in the sun. When you’re thinking of University, careers and other scary stuff, it’s important to remember summer is a golden time to boost those CVs/Personal Statements. I’m not suggesting work all summer – that is no fun. Maybe look into a couple and keep your eye out for applications opening for 2018. There is no harm trying!

 

Nuffield Placements – A fabulous way to experience life in research and industry. These placements are offered in STEM and some social sciences. Nuffield source you a placement, reimburse you for travel costs and give you the opportunity to make links with amazing people. I’m currently on my Physics Nuffield Placement now (more on that in future posts), and I can’t tell you enough what an amazing opportunity this is!

Summer Schools & Access Programmes – I know, its hard to think about the dreaded universities! But whilst you are researching future universities (I’d suggest doing a little digging in the summer after Year 11, but before College) take a look at what they are offering you now. It may be reduced grade boundaries after completing certain schemes, summer schools to sample Uni life, or scholarships. Doing your research will make your life easier later on, plus it could open doors to opportunities you may have missed!

Extra Stuff – The last thing you’ll probably want to do is do extra work on your break. However, choosing to study a little will boost your applications, and knowledge, and avoid loosing your ability to think over summer. (We’ve all been there!) Why not take a look at FutureLearn, a site that enables you to choose a short course of your choice and receive qualifications from a University or certified centre in the process. Or, take a look at free lectures, museums & galleries, or a scientific paper to advance your knowledge.

Let me know how you get on. I’m happy to answer any questions or give further advice – just let me know in the comments below!                  – The Clever Owl

Posted in Revision & School

Revision Notes

So, here is something new I’m trying. I thought I’d share some of my revision notes. In light of the AS Physics exam next week, I’ve been revising Waves. So, here are my AQA Physics Waves notes, in a variety of colours across a whiteboard.

I’d like to note, I am still learning and am merely a student. So my notes may contain a couple of errors, despite trying to remain as accurate as possible – I apologise in advanced!

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This is a trial thing. I don’t know whether I’ll share more of my notes in the future. So if you find this useful, I’d love to know. If you would like me to make more notes, or would like to suggest future topics that I should cover, please just let me know in the comments below!

Posted in Revision & School

Exam Prep

We have hit exam season – students are stressing, past papers are mounting and invigilators are practising the rules and regulations (well, I imagine they do!). Hopefully, fellow students, you aren’t floundering under the pressure. I also hope that you are feeling prepared. However, just in case you aren’t, here’s what I pack for my exams…

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So you might have read previously that I pack everything I might ever need for all of my exams in one pencil case (if you missed this, why not read my last minute exam advice!). I do this for a couple of reasons. The main reason is to avoid unnecessary stress on the night before every exam, trying to remember what you need and locate it all. Pack it all in a big, clear pencil case at the start of exam season – this way you don’t forget anything, don’t add unnecessary stress trying to find a protractor the night before, and can focus on the important stuff. Don’t take anything out till the end of your exams.

In my pencil case, I pack:

Several Pens (in case one runs out mid-essay), several pencils (all sharp), a sharpener (in case I make all of my pencils blunt or need one extra sharp to draw a graph), a calculator (scientific, of course!), a spare calculator (better to be safe than sorry!), protractor (you might not need one, depending on which exams you’re taking), a ruler and a rubber (big must have!). You might decide to pack a highlighter (to highlight key words in questions or quotes in an extract) or coloured pencils (tends to be necessary for media exams). I must stress to CHECK YOUR EXAM BOARD. I might not have covered everything, and the equipment requirements vary from board to board.

That’s it from me. I wish you all the best of luck for your exams and hope to hear about your success in the summer. Be prepared, keep calm and show off – YOU CAN DO THIS!

 – The Clever Owl xx