Exams Are Over and I’m Back!

Hi there everyone! Oh wow, it feels so weird to be sitting in front of my computer without any revision to do… I literally haven’t felt this in SO LONG. Everything just feels so strange at the moment.

Anyway, yes, as you may have gathered from the title of this post — I’ve just finished my GCSEs and I’m so excited to be making a proper return here! Honestly, this entire school year, particularly since January has been pretty tough. I’m amazed that I managed to make it through exams mostly okay. Sadly, the tension hasn’t gone away immediately as I’d have liked; finishing yesterday just felt like rather an anticlimax if I’m honest. A lot of other people finished at the end of last week (and a few of my friends still have more exams) so it isn’t exactly like we can all celebrate.

I’m not really sure how the exams went? I tried my best to forget about them because if I didn’t then I’d just be constantly worrying over my mistakes and what I could have changed. (Which is what’s currently happening for my terrible final maths exam, ARGH. I wish I could have ended feeling okay but I guess OCR just didn’t want that for me, thanks for that.)

I feel like I’ve basically had to push aside any feelings and responsibilities that aren’t either a) revising for exams or b) trying to recover from revising exams so now EVERYTHING IS COMING UP AT ONCE. AAAH. The summer and work and sixth form loom on the horizon! Oh dear!

As you may have already gathered, I didn’t begin this post with much direction; it’s essentially just to let you know that I’m back on the blog and I plan to be writing more posts for the summer. ūüôā And I’ve missed reading all your blog posts, my friends, so do link your latest or anything else you just want to share — I’d love to read it!

 

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Sad Feelings and Exam Stress

Hi everyone! I hope you’re doing okay. This is just a little update post to let you know what’s going on with me, because I’ve been rather sad recently and blogging hasn’t been quite the fun activity I want it to be.

These few weeks are very weird for me because I’m in a strange liminal space between ‘normal school’ and actual exams. I used to enjoy school a lot, especially in Year 10, but currently I just feel like I’m preparing to pass an exam. And I¬†know¬†that’s what I’m doing, but it still frustrates me. It makes me feel like what I’m doing is pointless. Yet the same time, I feel very very stressed about getting good grades and living up to people’s (and my own) expectations of me. And then I feel stressed about stressing when I should be revising, AAAAAH. IT IS TERRIBLE.

Other things have also been contributing to me sadness like my compulsion to read transphobic articles which make me feel bad, stressing about what to do in the future, friend group politics etc. etc. Just: a lot of things are happening right now.

I don’t know, the summer weather makes me feel better. But I’ve also been crying a lot. I’m not sure where this post is going, but the most important thing I’d like to say is that¬†I need to take some time out.¬†I still have some blog posts lined up, but I don’t want blogging to be a chore. I need to take care of myself, and I need to let myself not do stuff — and that includes not blogging as frequently.

But I’m still around! If you’d like to talk to me then you can of course still comment on my blog or tweet me @appletaile. Like I said, I still have some posts which will be going up soon.

 

GCSE Posting Schedule and Q&A

Hi everyone! I just wanted to let you know my plans for this blog over the next few months.

As you might know (because I talk/scream about them loads) I have my GCSE exams coming up in May and June. I want to do my best in these so I’m probably going to be a studying A LOT around that time, including April.

Since September I’ve been posting a bit less than I previously had — posting around once per week instead of every 4 – 5 days. I take great pride in my blog but I just haven’t been able to keep up that kind of schedule, and I especially don’t expect to over GCSE period.

At the moment, I plan to post once per week on the weekend. I love writing posts and they’re a great way for me to have some fun. However, I don’t want to burn myself out trying to do too many extra things (which I sometimes do). So that might change. I just wanted to let you all know. ūüôā

Anyways! I’m hoping to do a Q&A soon, and I would LOVE to hear your questions. (PLEASE SEND SOME IF YOU WANT TO. I really need some to answer haha. Also I’ve never done a Q&A which is kind of wild.) These might be book-related, musical-relared LGBTQ+ stuff, any questions you have about school or GCSEs, or just random questions. Anything! Go for it! Just comment below or tweet me before the end of February; I’ll be looking over all the questions on 1st March.

GCSE Science Resource Masterpost // #evestudies

The words 'resource masterpost for gcse science #evestudies' over an image of coloured pens on a journal with colourful lists.

Hi everyone! Today I’m sharing with you my favourite resources for revising GCSE Science. As you might know I’ve had mocks recently — I’m just coming to the end of them — and I thought it would be useful to share what I use to revise so that you can all use them if you still have exams ahead of you. I’ll be covering resources from the exam board, videos, other websites and books.

I take AQA triple science, so whilst what I find is targeted at that course, it definitely applies to other courses and also to general science revision anyway. ūüôā Almost all of these are free except for the books at the end.

exam board resources

Specifications (Biology, Chemistry, Physics)¬†Firstly I’d very strongly urge you to get a copy of the spec which is free to download from your exam board. I base all my revision off this as it tells you exactly, point-by-point, what you need to know. If you take only one point from this post it’s that you should LOOK AT THE SPEC.

Required practicals¬†(Biology, Chemistry, Physics)¬†These will give you the exact methods AQA want you to know for every single practical.¬†Especially useful if you can’t quite remember doing it or don’t have class notes.

Scheme of work (Biology, Chemistry, Physics) This goes into further detail on the spec points and — what I find most useful — provides links to other websites where you can learn about the topic. I’m only annoyed I didn’t know about these earlier!

Science skills There are a lot of questions in the exam on experimental procedure so don’t forget to revise that.

videos

There are MANY, MANY informative videos out there on the web. These range from videos directed specifically at GCSE science courses to general informative videos. The ones here are some of the ones I’ve found useful.

My GCSE Science This is one of my personal favourites. It clearly explains topics with a voiceover and illustrative diagrams. In particular I love their Physics video on the motor and generator effect; I found that topic hard to get my head around and it absolutely SAVED ME. However, their videos do NOT cover all the course content, particularly triple and higher content; they only publish a selection of videos as the rest are available on their website as a paid-for subscription. Also, this might be inaccessible to some people as a lot of the videos need both the diagrams and voiceover to understand. They have videos for AQA, Edexcel and OCR.

Freesciencelessons¬†My other favourite channel! What I love about these videos is that they are very well organised and follow the spec extremely closely so you know that you’re getting everything you need. He hasn’t yet covered every topic, but I believe they’ll be done in time for GCSEs. In particular I like the Required Practical videos. Although these videos do have diagrams, they’re not necessary for all topics; most of content is in the voiceover and text on screen.

Science With Hazel¬†I haven’t watched loads of these; personally I found the one I watched didn’t cover the topic I wanted in enough detail. However, she does provide recaps of the whole specification for each science for both AQA and Edexcel iGCSE which may be useful to you.

Revising Science Another GCSE recap channel similar to Freesciencelessons, with very very short and condensed videos.

Fallibroome Required Practicals Videos are a great way to remind yourself of required practicals if you want to actually watch someone doing them rather than simply hear an explanation. I like that these not only show you a clear method but also explain potential errors and how you might improve the experiment (which you will be tested on!).

Crash Course (Biology, Chemistry, Physics) These videos are NOT directed at GCSE students and generally provide more detail than you need, but are useful to help explain stuff anyway. I recommend you search for particular topic videos if you need them such as this Physics one on sound.

Science songs There are many amusing and catchy science songs out there. Ones I know and have used are: the¬†photosynthesis song, the other photosynthesis song, the osmosis song, the adaptation song and the EM waves song. But don’t use these as the only method of your revision!

other websites

Phet Colorado simulations These are laboratory simulations which help you model topics. I especially like them for Physics where some topics are hard to get around; I recommend circuit constructor, Faraday’s Electromagentic Lab, Magnets and Electromagnets. Simulations are available for all 3 sciences.

BBC Bitesize (Biology, Chemistry, Physics) Ah, the saviour of students everywhere! I love BBC Bitesize; it provides easy-to-follow explanations with diagrams and covers a wide variety of topics. But it’s a general resource for all GCSE students and not targeted towards an exam board so approach with some caution. There may be some topics which aren’t on there as well as some additional topics not in your exam, and it might not cover exactly what you have to learn in the right words.

Chem Collective virtual lab and notes A virtual lab for if you want to practice your practicals which also provides notes and practice questions for some topics. (Though again, not specific to GCSE.)

Passmyexams.co.uk¬†This website contains notes on almost all of the topics. However, I haven’t used it massively myself and although it is for GCSE, it’s not targeted towards a particular exam board so again I would approach it with some caution.

Spolem Biology quizzes This website provides great interactive Biology quizzes to test your knowledge. It also has links to Biology and Chemistry resources such as online notes and videos, but these are directed towards the Edexcel iGCSE.

Compound Chem infographics Beautiful infographics which you can stick up around your room to remind you of Chemistry, or use as a model to make your own. I use their ones for properties of Group 1 and Group 7.

Quizlet I love Quizlet SO MUCH. In terms of science I find it particularly useful for Biology as it’s very content-heavy. (You can find my Biology quizlets¬†here.) Although you can of course make your own, there are many excellent sets already created for GCSE Science so do have a search. I normally find a set, copy it, and then go through and edit with my own notes to ensure it measures up with a spec, changing anything I need.

books

AQA textbooks (Biology, Chemistry, Physics) We¬†were issued these at the start of our GCSE — I don’t know if everyone does, all the people I know do have one but if you don’t for whatever reason I would HIGHLY recommend it. It covers everything in the spec and also has some great exam questions for revision practice.

CGP revision guides (Biology, Chemistry, Physics) Our school sells these to us at a cheaper price. I know many students use the revision guides to do almost all their revision so they’re worth a look, but remember that they do NOT substitute for your own notes or the official specification. I generally only use CGP if I can’t get what I need from the textbook, or as a last-minute summary. These are available for AQA, Edexcel, OCR, and a limited range for iGCSE.

CGP exam practice workbook and practice papers (Biology, Chemistry, Physics)¬†The workbook has more exam-style questions if you want them. I haven’t yet tried the practice papers but I’m sure they’ll be useful, especially as we are the first year of this GCSE so there aren’t any past papers for our specification. The exam practice workbooks are available for AQA, Edexcel and OCR but the practice papers are only available for AQA.

I hope you find this post useful for learning and revising science; I had a lot of fun making this and I’d love to hear any feedback you have. ūüôā Please let me know if any of the links don’t work. I wish you good luck with your studies!

Back to School // #evestudies

back to school evestudies.jpg

That’s right folks, it’s September, and for me that means SCHOOL. And also a year of important stuff for me, because GCSEs and A LEVEL THINGS and DECISIONS ABOUT MY FUTURE. *screams*

Whilst obviously I am kind of worried, I’m not…that¬†worried? I mean, I know GCSEs will probably suck but a) they are not at all the end of the world if I mess them up, I can still do other stuff as a human and b) they’ll probably end up fine. And I’m a lot further with thinking about my future than I was this time last year. I still don’t really understand how the new A Level thing all works — hopefully this will be explained??? maybe not though — but, yeah. I have some thoughts on what I want to do, at least. (I know I’d like to do Spanish.)

So, yes. It is GCSE year! Hurrah!¬†not¬† If you’re not familiar with the English school system, they’re basically the big exams you take age 16 after a two year course. I’m taking 9 or 10, I think? Maybe it’s 10 with the two English ones. I’m not sure. We also have mock exams at my school in January which, again, is going to be SUPER FUN. -_- At least I can look forward to seeing my family at Christmas and The Last Jedi. (Y’all, I am super hyped for it. I CAN’T WAIT TO SEE MY SPACE CHILDREN AGAIN.)

Whilst obviously I’m going to need to like, do schoolwork, my main goal for this academic year is to be kind to myself. I find exams pretty stressful but I don’t really want to spend the next 9 months or so freaking out. What I mean by this is: I want to keep doing stuff I enjoy! Seeing friends, reading, book events, watching TV, blogging, writing, music. Meditation, which seems to helping a bit. We actually seem to have self-care lessons at school now — they’re not called that, but that’s what they seem to be — and I hope those will be good.¬†If I get super stressed out over work then it just makes everything I try to do 100 times worse. And I do¬†not¬†need to feel crap for 9 months. It’s not worth that.

The other day I watched this video by EmilyOfAdarlan on having the right mindset for GCSEs, which I thought was really useful, if maybe not exactly how I’d like to do stuff? I know that I¬†could¬†get super involved in this and just work all the time. And I probably will have to at some point. But I dunno, as I said, I don’t think it’d be awesome for my mental health. Ideally like to be able to combine maximising my time, consolidating stuff, and doing other work-y things with stuff I love. Sometimes I do just need time off.¬†I found using a bullet journal useful so I think I’m going to restart that! (Maybe with a new journal because mine was a bit crappy.)

My mental health hasn’t been great recently but I’m feeling good today? Which is nice? So I’m going to talk about some stuff that I’m excited for this next school year. Firstly, seeing my friends! I’ve really missed just, like, seeing people over the holidays. It’s already been super nice to see them back at school. Also, I am kind of excited to be learning stuff again. Yeah, school can be stressful, but I just. Like learning stuff. WHAT CAN I SAY.

More things I am excited for: the clubs I have going on — LGBTQ+ society (we’re planning to do an assembly to the younger kids which is scary but also fun), music groups, theatre tech. Hopefully I can actually learn some useful tech stuff at the club. And we have House Music this year, which is basically where you get together with your people in your house to perform a song as a choir! It only happens every other year so the last time I did it was in Year 9, and honestly I’ve been waiting for it to happen again ever since because I LOVED it.

It’s a lot more easy for me to talk about what I want to do when I am feeling happy. It’s so much harder to love myself and focus on the good things when I’m not, but I’m going to try my best. In any case, ¬†I hope for the best for the next school year!

are you going back to school? do you have experiences of exams? how did you study, or how are you studying for them?

 

 

 

School Year in Review // #evestudies

school year in review eve studies.jpg

As the school year winds down, I’m entering a bit of reflective period before, you know, I FORGET SCHOOL COMPLETELY for 6 weeks. (Okay, maybe not, but.) If you haven’t been following my #evestudies series, where I talk about school & studying & learning in general, then you can check out my other posts here.

The last time I updated was during half term, which is basically my revision week before internal exams. So how did my exams go?¬†Well…overall I’m really happy with my results! I did better than I was expecting in a bunch of subjects, and I think that for the most part my revision did pay off. I’m quite a perfectionist so whenever I take an exam, I’m kind of aiming to get everything right which means I focus more on what I think I did wrong. (I think? I mean, I’m still figuring it out, but usually there¬†is¬†a difference between how I perceived the exam whilst taking it and the result.)

My main disappointment was probably my biology exam, because I really love biology and I did put a lot of effort into revision, but I was just a unlucky with the topics that came up and wasn’t great at exam technique. I could feel myself getting really stressed during the actual exam.

I also some stupid mistakes in maths, like reading graphs wrong and stuff, because I COULD HAVE FIXED THAT SO EASILY, or forgetting to reference the sources in a history question. But hopefully these mistakes are easily fixed!

And¬†how does this relate to the school year as a whole? Because IT’S NOT ALL ABOUT THE EXAMS, even if the government is trying really hard to convince us that is the case.I do think I’ve had a good year at school, to be honest. I’ve heard some people saying that Year 7/8/9 was so much easier and we have a lot of work at GCSE but, honestly, I feel I’m only growing as a person as time passes. The past year has had a lot of difficulties, but it’s not like we¬†can¬†go back so I’m trying to focus on the present. I actually love all my classes! Though I felt sad that I’m not taking French, I don’t regret my choices. I feel like I am LEARNING and I LOVE IT A LOT. I CAN’T WAIT TO LEARN ALL THE THINGS.

The subjects I’ve found most challenging this year were maths, English, and history. In maths it takes me a pretty long time to understand a subject, and it feels like we do a lot of different unrelated topics in a short space of time, which I find difficult. I don’t much enjoy our GCSE set text (Spies by Michael Frayn) and in general I don’t adore the way we do English GCSE, but I’m finding ways to be more motivated. We’re studying new texts now which should be a bit better. For history, though I’m very interested, the lessons are¬†pretty¬†intense and I can easily zone out. I think it just has a lot of difficult skills to develop! But, you know, I’m working on it.

I mean, obviously I could do more stuff like reading out of what we do in lessons, spending more time on homework rather than just trying to get it done, but it’s important for me to balance my schoolwork with my mental health. ūüôā I don’t want to put too much pressure on myself, and I want to keep trying to practice self-care, especially when I feel terrible. (Which is when it is most difficult for me.)

Aside from academic stuff this year, I’ve done cool stuff like starting to play the saxophone, joining a rad clarinet quartet, joining some cool clubs, helping out with the school play and making it through the school biathlon alive which I AM SO PROUD OF. I find running pretty difficult, so.

And that’s a wrap on my school year! I hope that next academic year I can continue to grow both personally & in my learning. Yes, I am in one of those REFLECTIVE GROWTH MOODS. Maybe it’s the summer. Whilst I’m not doing much work I can try and be positive about the idea of doing work haha.

if you’re still in education, how’s it going? how has the last year been to you? do you have any goals for the future?

 

 

Bullet Journalling & Revision Techniques // #evestudies

bullet journaling revision evestudies

Yes! It is officially exam period and I am back again with study updates. (Even though I am writing is while I probably should be working. The irony. OH WELL.) If you missed my last #evestudies post, I’m not taking public exams this year but I still have internal exams and I’m hoping to keep a record of how I revise for them. ūüôā

It’s two weeks until half term, which is going to be my main revision week. But I’ve already been doing a bit of organisation and revision because¬†some¬†subjects *coughs* History *coughs* have a lot of stuff to learn.

The main thing that I have been doing is¬†keeping a bullet journal. I’d heard of them before, but I after I spent an afternoon looking at pretty pictures of them I thought it might be fun to start one! I’ve always found to-do lists helpful, and basically my bullet journalling is just a slightly more formal and pretty to-do list.

image

As you can see in this picture: I mark off every new week with the date and week of the school term. Then I draw in things that I want to do each week; currently I’m trying to engage with the news at least four times a week, and I was also trying to do clarinet practice. For each day I write everything I have to do in colours corresponding to various themes (school, blog/online) and…well, tick them off as I go along.

I know it’s not very beautiful compared to some people’s, but I think I’d just spend so much time trying to make it look a way that isn’t achievable for me haha. And it’s still nice to look at! In general I do feel as though writing this has made me more able to manage my tasks, especially when I have a lot, and I feel a sense of achievement when I cross them off.

The other thing that I want to chat about today is¬†revision techniques,¬†and the various ways I revise ¬†for different subjects. I’ve mainly so far been working on sciences, so I’ll probably be focusing on them more!

1. Note taking and adapting my notes style for the topic

image

My way of revising mainly consists of looking through my lesson notes and then making condensed notes from that, and this is the style I’ve gone with in the past. I use a colour scheme for each subject and write key words/equations in a colour that stands out, but otherwise I basically just adapt them for the topic and what I think works best. I might illustrate a diagram, draw a mind-map, and then for the next little chunk of information use a different style.

image

2. More mind-map-y notes style

Here I’ve got two different mind-maps. I used mindmapping for the poems we’ve studied in English because I think so many parts of them link together, and it makes it easier for me to look over the major themes of one poem. I’ve also started using more of a mind-map style of notes for sciences; I’m still writing similar things to before, but formatting it in smaller chunks of information. ūüôā

3. Using Quizlet for vocab

Quizlet is my NUMBER ONE lifesaver for vocab during the year. I think I’d find it really difficult to work without it! It’s a great way for me to test myself and keep all the vocab I need to learn stored in one place. I’ve also used it to learn definitions and key words in the past.

I’ve also been reading some useful things online about revision which I’ll for sure using in the future: a guide for revising¬†Maths by Megan @ Probability Reading (whichI definitely need!), how to study for the new linear A Levels by Em @ Adventures of a Lost Teen (not directly relevant to me but still some great general revision tips) and an alternative to flashcards for learning key vocab (I’m not a massive flashcard fan because I find them fiddly so this appeals to me). I enjoyed this A – Z study tips post by Nusha too. ūüôā

I hope you enjoyed reading this update on my various school and revision things, and good luck to you if you’re doing any exams right now! ‚̧

do you have any revision tips to share? what techniques to you life to use?