Blog Birthday! Life! Sixth Form!

Hello again! It’s been a while since my last post so I thought I’d update you all on what’s going on with my blog and life and all that.

First of all: Twist in the Taile turned 5! That’s right, I started my blog 5 years ago this month. CAN YOU BELIEVE IT?? Me neither: I always have to go back to my very first post to check that, yes, I was actually that young when I started it. I haven’t got my act together to do a giveaway right at this point (more on that later) but I’m thinking about perhaps doing a belated one. We shall see.

Anyway, the last year has been somewhat turbulent for Twist in the Taile as I took a couple of breaks, mainly due to schoolwork. I’m so grateful for all of you who continue to read my posts and brighten my day with your thoughts. Thank you ❤

Secondly: what’s happening with Sixth Form? Essentially, I’m very busy this term, and although I do have many ideas for posts I don’t really have the mental energy to do homework AND music practice AND my extracurricular commitments whilst not having a breakdown. So, there will probably be less posts. (I’m slightly wincing as I look at the dramatic drop in my stats over the last 2 months and think about the future. OH WELL.)

I’m enjoying Year 12 so far – I especially like that the classes are generally a bit smaller, teachers are more relaxed, I have free periods and such, although the workload is definitely more. Choosing clothes every day is kind of stressful but I’ve sort of ended up with a system where I wear the same trousers for the whole week and just swap the shirt because that’s easier. We have a ‘formal dress code’ which is like…interesting… I’d like to write another post on picking clothes because I find it kind of hard to both wear clothes I feel comfortable in whilst sticking to the expectations of formalwear which are kind of gendered but, eh.

Let me update you on how my subjects are going! I’m taking History, Maths, Spanish and Latin (at my school most people are advised to start with 4 and then drop 1; I don’t think they’ve quite got used to the linear system yet).

History is really interesting and I’m enjoying the Stuarts a lot more than I thought I might?? My GCSE was all based around the 20th century so it’s nice to do something else. Both my teachers are great as well (I have multiple teachers for every subject who teach different topics) although I am slightly terrified of them and my recent essay was…interesting. Also, there’s a lot of note-taking homework, which I’m still getting used to.

I’m so glad I took Maths since this time last year I was completely sure I wouldn’t be doing A-Level (lol) since it’s such a nice contrast to my other subjects. I mean, it’s also challenging but I do generally find it relaxing in comparison to, say History. I like that questions have an actual definitive answer, y’know?

I feel like Spanish has been the biggest step up from GCSE – I enjoy the subject but it does feel like suddenly we have to be a lot more fluent which is very much not me haha. There’s also been some issues with my class which makes it…interesting… I probably shouldn’t say too much about it on here though.

I’m liking Latin a lot! Again, I’m so glad I took it in the end since I was almost going to do Chemistry. Language is very fun, I’ve always found translation quite satisfying, and literature is interesting too. I even read some Extra Books so I feel like a moderately dedicated student. ALSO…the Latin verb drills website has finally come into immediate and practical use with prose composition ayy.

This half term is going to be pretty busy with my school musical that I’m helping and clarinet grade 8 in addition to schoolwork so I am essentially hoping to make it out alive?? Apologies for the lack of Monthly Mixtape; it has rather been put on hold and I feel that its future needs to be considered but that’s something I haven’t quite gotten round to.

Anyway! Please update me on what’s going on with you! I miss talking to you all. 🙂

Advertisements

GCSE Results Day // #evestudies

Coloured pens strewn over a notebook, with the text 'GCSE results day #evestudies'.

Hi everyone! WOW it has been a long time since I sat down to write a post. Everything feels kind of surreal so I guess this just adds to it??

Anyway, if you didn’t know, yesterday was GCSE results day in England (GCSEs being the public exams that I’ve worked on for the last 2 years or so). These were my first set of public exams so it has been an…interesting time, let’s say. By which I mean they were rather scary and difficult. But I’m not actually here to talk about Year 11 or the exams themselves! You can go and read previous #evestudies posts including my experience of Year 11 and advice for those going into it, revision techniques, and a masterpost of GCSE science resources.

Over the summer holidays I didn’t have much opportunity to get stressed about results day and I am SO GLAD. I’d been away on a trip with Guides for most of August which took up all of my brain space! Obviously it was still lurking in the back of my thoughts, but I didn’t start thinking about it loads until I came back and started lying in bed at night stressing that I’d failed everything. Fun times, am I right?

Discussing my worries with friends made me feel less alone since I realised that actually everyone was freaking out, not just me. (Though I was still kind of stressed.) On the morning of results day I stayed in bed for ages hoping to distract myself with books and podcasts. I even ended up going in later than I’d planned haha despite waking up early.

ANYWAY. I’m, like, still really in shock at my results?? I did way better than I was expecting? I’d convinced myself that I’d failed additional maths and I actually got an A which I DO NOT UNDERSTAND AT ALL because the exam was ABSOLUTE HELL. (The answer is that the grade boundaries were extremely low.)

I’d prefer not to share all of my grades publicly on here, but since this blog series has covered a lot of my GCSEs I felt that I should do some kind of conclusion. So I just wanted to say that I’m really happy with my results! I got the top grades in the subjects I’m taking at A-Level which is awesome since a) obviously now I’m allowed to take those subjects next year and b) it makes me feel more confident that I actually have a chance at A-Levels. I’m planning to take Maths, Spanish, History & Latin, and I’m very excited?! Hopefully sixth form won’t be too scary haha.

It feels so strangely anti-climatic to see so many hours of schoolwork boiled down to one piece of paper… It still hasn’t quite sunk in for me that it’s, you know, over. But GCSEs have been hanging over me for so long, and it’s such a relief to finally close this chapter. These new exams have been confusing and stressful but WE MADE IT THROUGH, FOLKS.

If you were also getting results yesterday, I hope you’re happy and even if not I send you internet hugs. It might not feel like it sometimes (and this is certainly something that I need to remind myself of) but exam results are NOT the be all and end all, and you’re still awesome no matter what. ❤

As I said, I’m starting sixth form this year which is all very new for me, so I’m sure you’ll be seeing more posts in this series. A-Levels! Way less subjects! I don’t have to wear uniform anymore! And also lots of other stuff that I’m sure I’ll discover when I get there. I can’t wait to update you all on it. 🙂

Year 11: My Experience & Advice // #evestudies

Coloured pens strewn over a notebook, with the words '#evestudies Year Eleven my experience and advice'.

Hi everyone! It’s that time of year where school is finishing up for most people here, and I realised that despite posting some general updates, I haven’t actually done another official post in my #evestudies series since before GCSEs. (My last one was in February, so practically AEONS ago.) Before I started Year 11 I was pretty nervous about my first set of public exams, GCSEs, so I thought it might be helpful for some people to give my own experience and advice for making it through. And hopefully it’ll still be interesting to read even if you’re not taking GCSEs haha.

Firstly, though, I would like to emphasise that this is only my experience. There are SO MANY reasons that it may not match yours, and the same is true for my advice; what works for me might not work for you. And that is completely valid.

But to get started with my own experience. Reading back through my posts over the last year is fascinating, and I’m glad that I have this blog as a digital record. As you can see from some of thos older posts, I started the year extremely keen to keep up extra work like doing online Physics lessons and constantly revising vocab. Honestly, I would not recommend that you start revising for GCSEs right from the start of the year. Although some of the languages vocab probably helped a little, by the time the exam season rolled around, I felt that a lot of what I’d revised earlier had faded from my brain and I was forced to return to it again anyway. Instead, I just felt guilty for not completing this ‘extra work’ I had set myself.

First and foremost, I would recommend that, if possible, you try to take care of yourself (whatever form that takes). The first term of Year 11 was pretty similar to Year 10 for me except for officially submitting my English coursework and doing stage management for a play at school. But I sort of had a breakdown towards the end of this term since I was trying to do so many things, and that was REALLY BAD. Probably the worst my mental health has ever been. So trying to keep a balance in your life is really important.

I also found creating good habits and routines really helped me during Year 111. And that refers not only to study habits like completing your homework on time, but also to self-care routines. Personally, I find routines very comforting, and I really enjoy having them. This might not be true for everyone, but I’ve found that sticking to my routines gave me something to anchor to during the stressful revision and exam period where all the days just kind of blended into one long stress. I can tell when my mental health is getting bad because when that happens I start to break my routines. (Not included missing them for special occasions and stuff.)

To give an example from my own life: every Tuesday afternoon, I spend an hour watching TV. Often I find it difficult to sit down and watch an episode of something because I feel like I should be doing something else ‘more productive’ (which is completely not a thing) but making that a routine has helped me a lot. Other little routines I have are reading for half an hour in the evening, going swimming on Sundays, and listening to podcasts as I go to bed. (Does that count as a routine? I don’t know haha. It’s just a nice thing that I like do to.)

I did put in work for my mock exams at school and I found this to be very useful. Particularly for more content-based subjects, I really did use the notes that I made for mock exams during actual GCSE revision, especially my Quizlets since those allowed me to test myself.) However, my revision style did actually change from mocks to later revision; before, I’d just spent all my time making notes, and then I already had them! So I tended to do more self-testing. But if you don’t revise loads for mocks then it’s not at all the end of the world! I just liked to feel prepared.

I’m not going to lie, Easter and the summer term were a frustrating time for me. I’ve previously been very enthusiastic about my school experience, saying that I love learning and each year has been better than the last. Frankly, Year 11 was not my best year yet. Towards the end of the year, I felt as though I wasn’t learning for educational benefit but rather to pass an exam. And I know that’s what I was supposed to be doing, but even as someone who really likes learning, it all feel rather pointless to me. We’d spent 2 years working for what felt like a very small number of exams. (But also, SO MANY EXAMS. SO. GODDAMN. MANY.)

For the actual exam period, timetables are AMAZING. As you can probably tell already, I like to have everything organised and prepared haha. I spent a lot of time figuring out my timetable. At the start of each week I would try to fill in which specific topics I would study during my subject periods. Also, I tried not to dwell on past exams. I thought I was going to enjoy all the hashtags, and I sort of did? But also, once the exam had finished I just wanted to completely erase it from my memory since there wasn’t anything I could do to change it.

Writing about school and exams comes SO easily to me now because I feel like that’s 90% of what I’ve been thinking about for the last 8 months. I don’t think I’ve yet recovered from exams; finishing them was just a bit of an anticlimax. And results day looms next month, which is…yikes. I’m not looking forward to getting my results, but I very much want to gain closure for this chapter of school.

Anyways! I hope you found this post enjoyable in some way. 🙂 I’m thinking about making some more revision posts later in the year — I feel like I should get my results first to see if my revision techniques actually worked haha — so let me know if that’s something you’d be interested in. I was thinking perhaps some subject-specific posts like for modern foreign languages, sciences, and possibly Latin?? (I have a lot of Latin resources, but I know not many people actually take it so.)

have you taken any public exams this year? what was your experience? how are you doing today?

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. 🙂 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!

 

Q&A // books, music & more!

Green and blue watercolour splash. The words 'Question & answer' and 'twist in the taile'

Hi everyone! I’m here today with the very first Q&A that I have EVER done here on Twist in the Taile. Which is wild. If you think about it, you’re all basically experiencing a premiere right here! (Does anyone even know how I am this bouncy when I’m writing this intro despite being wiped out by work??? ME NEITHER. That is one question I can’t answer.)

Anyways, thank you so much to Jess, Holly, The Wild Man, K. Winter, and Kerstin for submitting questions — let’s get started!

books

Best book you’ve read recently? 

Probably I Am Thunder by Muhammad Khan or After the Fire by Will Hill. They were both super good & well-written, I’d recommend! (Also shout-out to my library for having both of them; they’ve got in some great new YA books lately. I’m LOVING it.)

Can you read with noise or do you need silence?

Normally I read with silence, since I tend to read in the evenings before I go to bed. I can read with a bit of background noise or music but not anything super distracting.

If you were a book, which one would you be and why?

OOOOH. Oooh… I don’t actually know! I feel like I would be something like Nimona by Noelle Stevenson or the Hellcat! comics (i.e. excitable, queer, friendship, crying, feminism). Except also simultaneously Radio Silence by Alice Oseman because WOW that book speaks to me so much to be honest. It would depend on the day I’m having, really.

Have you ever gotten around to reading Juliet Takes a Breath?

No, sadly I haven’t. It looks amazing and I really want to read it! I admit that the main reason I haven’t read it yet is because it’s £17 to buy in paperback here which is very expensive for a book. I’ve been waiting for the ebook price to go down a bit more but I should really just buy it because it sounds so great.

What’s your all time favourite book?

NOOOO, don’t make me pick! I can’t decide! I’d say among my absolute favourites are When the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore and Radio Silence by Alice Oseman, but I love SO MANY MORE. *cries* I CAN’T PICK.

Do you have a favourite fairy tale that you’ll read literally any adaptation of?

I regret to say that no, I do not! I used to have a book of fairytales which I loved but I don’t love one in particular anymore.

music (and musicals)

Who’s your favourite character from Les Mis?

Again, this is VERY PAINFUL FOR ME. I LOVE ALL MY CHILDREN. From more canon-y canon (does that even make sense?) maybe Marius, because he is a hilarious awkward cinnamon roll and I just. Love him a lot. But I also love so many more, especially characters who have been interpreted in awesome ways by people in the fandom like Enjolras and Cosette! (Also, like, all of Les Amis.)

And your favourite character from Hamilton?

Angelica Schuyler. 🙂 I love all the Schuyler sisters but I adore Angelica’s song Satisfied.

What grade are you in Clarinet?

I’m hoping to take Grade 8 at the end of this year… I say HOPING, I’ll have to practice more if I want to be good enough by then haha.

How do you go about making your playlists/trying new music?

This might sound kind of boring, but usually to make playlists I just kind of…sit for a while and think about songs that fit the vibe I want. Or sometimes it comes to me when I’m doing something else. If I can’t think of enough songs that way, then I’ll go through my music library and see if I can find anything else that fits.

Honestly, I’m not amazing at trying new music, but I like to follow other people’s playlists and my discover weekly playlist on Spotify. Occasionally I see other people talk about cool music and then I look them up too.

school

What GCSEs are you taking?

Spanish, Latin, History, Music, English Lit & Language, the three sciences, Maths, and Additional Maths. To be honest please send me good luck for Add Maths because it’s very difficult *cries*

What A Levels do you plan on doing?

At the moment I plan on taking Spanish, History, Maths and Chemistry. But I might change from Chemistry to Latin haha. (I went through SO MUCH PAIN in my A Levels decisions. IT WAS TERRIBLE.)

Thanks for reading! I’m not actually having a great time at the moment and revision is coming up, so I’m not sure if I’ll be able to post every week. But we’ll see.

what are your answers to these questions? are you having weird weather like me???

 

Do Study Blogs Really Help Me Study?

A yellow pencil, pencil sharpener and pencil shavings on a blank lined notebook. The words 'do study blogs really help me study?'

Hi everyone! As you might know, I’ve been busy with school lately, hence the many school-related posts. I was busy over the winter holidays for mocks in January, and I’ve also been spending quite a bit of time in general looking around study blogs like studyblr, Youtube, and such. I’m here today with a discussion post on whether study blogs actually help.

Firstly, I have to say that I just love looking at pretty aesthetic things. (SORRY BUT I DO.) It makes me SO happy to watch videos of people making pretty bullet journals or pictures of cute revision notes. These fill my with an intense, inexplicable joy, and they also make me go ‘Wow, I really want to make something as pretty as this!’ So I find it a lot of fun looking at those.

But does appearance translate into any real life effects? Personally I’ve found it pretty difficult to replicate what I see online. Sometimes if I get so focused on trying to make something beautiful that I’m less concentrated on learning the actual content. This probably isn’t helped by the fact that I’m not actually very artistic so I just. Can’t. I CAN’T.

I do find study blogs motivating. They make we want to go out into the world and do all the productive things. However, I think that’s only true up to a point, because productivity and schoolwork are NOT the only things that matter. Personally, I’m a motivated person anyway; in fact, I think that sometimes I make myself feel worse by trying to do too much work.

Recently my mental health hasn’t been great, and I think that part of that is due to a constant feeling, made worse by looking at all these blogs, that I’m not working hard enough, not being productive enough, not making the most efficient… Hell, I even feel bad for not RELAXING enough. Which is ridiculous, right? But although this ableist idea that productivity equals worth might have negative effects on me, it hurts disabled people way more. (Thank you @StealthClock for tweeting this thread on the topic back in January.)

Even self-care gets turned into a chore, something that I have to complete, which, well, it just kind of sucks. So although I like looking at pretty pictures and working my bullet journal, it’s not always good — and I think it’s important to approach these blogs with caution.

Finding useful revision resources is really cool, and some resources have absolutely changed the way I work, but searching for them can also just be a way of adding to my procrastination. Sometimes just doing some questions from the textbook is the way to go, you know? Another thing is that I find it can be quite hard to find specific resources for what you’re looking for. I don’t see that any GCSE things and also there are sooo many different exam boards with slightly different courses. IT’S SO FRUSTRATING. Also, my school is really extra and my year is doing some really weird things like Maths iGCSE? Why are we doing iGCSE? Does anyone know?? I’m pretty sure the younger years are doing something else.

So, overall, although I think study blogs can be really helpful, they should be used with moderation and caution. I feel like I’m just repeating all the stuff that adults complain about, the internet doesn’t show an exact representation of real life.

what do you think of study blogs? do you use them? how are you today?

By the way, I’m planning to post my Q&A next week so if you have any more questions then do let me know! They can be on anything (books, school, LGBTQ+ stuff etc.) as long as they’re respectful and not weird. 🙂

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. 🙂 Almost all of these are free except for the books at the end.

exam board resources

Specifications (Biology, Chemistry, PhysicsFirstly 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, PhysicsThese 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, PhysicsThe 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. 🙂 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. 🙂 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?

 

 

Revision Week & Self Care // #evestudies

revision week self care.jpg

I’m currently in the middle of my school half term, which is also what ends up being my revision week for exams. (Next week I have 5 days of internal exams, as well as two extra English exams the week after because there is just Too Much English.)

So… how has my revision been going? I’d been intending to do about 4 hours a day; whilst I know these are internal exams, I’m also about halfway through my GCSE course and I thought it would be good to consolidate information. But I think this is also partly down to me putting pressure on myself to do well, since I just…feel like I need to do well? I am trying to do that less, but I’m not very good at letting go. I always want to do my best, even at the expense of other things.

But I’m trying really hard to be more kind to myself! Revision was pretty difficult, especially at the start. I felt pretty horrible and overwhelmed. I still do feel a bit overwhelmed, since I’m covering topics from last year too for many subjects. I’m currently still going to be doing revision into exam week which isn’t ideal, but I don’t want to do any more than I need. (Also: yes, since you asked, this post is pretty much going to be me talking over my thoughts.)

Probably my most stressful subject to revise is History. For me, I feel so overwhelmed with all the content — there’s always more that you can revise and learn. The exam is also a very condensed test of all the skills and knowledge you’ve learnt over the course so far. I find that pretty daunting. However, I’ve been trying to really break down the detail into only the very necessary stuff so that I can actually learn something instead of just feeling bad.

image
History revision (of my Russia course)

Although sciences, in particular Biology and Chemistry for me since we have more content, have also been quite stressful, I find them a lot easier to revise. I get to make pretty mindmaps! Which is GREAT. So I think they’re subjects I look forward to.

I mentioned that I’m trying to take care of myself more… I’ve been feeling pretty tense and gross at times. I’m trying to do more exercise like swimming in the morning and jumping up and down to songs I love. I have been thinking a lot about London Pride, which I think I’m going to be able to attend this year!! I’m also motivating myself with chocolate between revision. (I LOVE DARK CHOCOLATE SO MUCH Y’ALL.) I’ve been doing some meditation and yoga too — which I’m sort of new to, but I think they’re helping. Yes.

Currently I’m watching Brooklyn Nine Nine, which I’ve just started — I like it a lot so far! I don’t really watch many (or any) comedy shows so it’s kind of fun for me. Plus, I’m watching a Spanish show called Cable Girls with my mum which I’m loving. The production is just SO AESTHETIC and I can pretend to learn Spanish haha. Everyone is just, like, really attractive, and it is unfair?

My exams start Monday, and I don’t think I’m going to be very active on the blog during the next week, so here is some advance notice. I’m least looking forward to Tuesday (which has both Physics and History, yikes) but the other days are mainly okay. I’m also nervous for the election, and I’m frustrated that I’ll probably be extra worried about that on top of my exams. If you’re doing exams, I hope they’re going well, and good luck for any future ones you might have! Take care of yourself, my friends. ❤