I Am Worried About the Future

I just got a very sudden urge to write a blog post, so HERE I AM.

I’m just going to jump right in and say — if I’m honest, this blog has not been the place where I truly write about all my feelings for some time.

I always feel like there’s a strange tension (for me at least) between trying to put your blog out there as a ~brand~ and between using it as a diary to discuss your innermost feelings. As my blog expanded and I’ve shown it to be more people, it has become less of a diary. I think part of this is down to me; I’m not very good at discussing my feelings with people in real life, and when I write them down I feel worried about what people I know IRL who could read this blog might think of them. (I’m kind of doing it now.) I’m not sure why that scares me so much, but there it is.

I think it’s also due to fear that whatever I publish on the internet is permanent, in some way. I shy away from posting precise details about my life because a) I don’t want people to be able to find me and b) it just freaks me out that this might all be…there for people to find. I want to keep something for myself.

Anyway. I’ve recently got a couple of things on my mind, and I wanted to talk about them a little bit (mainly to get them off my chest because, lol, this blog barely gets traffic anymore). Mainly, I am worried about the future: specifically, about climate change and university/post-school plans. It feels trivial to worry about university in comparison to climate change, which is obviously a WAY bigger issue, but I guess uni is something that I have more control over, so there we are. I can’t change my brain.

If you’ve been reading the UK news lately, you might be familiar with the Extinction Rebellion and Youth Strike for Climate Change protests, both of which call on the government for far quicker action. I’ve always cared about the environment, but the recent protests (partly inspired by Greta Thunberg) has really brought it more to my daily agenda of thoughts. I’m so stressed, folks! The IPCC report says we have to achieve net zero emissions by 2050! We’re already seeing the devastating impact of climate change across the world, particularly where people are already the most vulnerable. If we don’t take direct action to keep global warming below 1 degrees Celsius then this will only worsen, as will the loss of biodiversity — I mean, if we reach a warming of 2 degrees then 99% of coral is going to die out. NINETY NINE PERCENT.

It makes me so worried for the future. It feels hard to have hope and enjoy my life when I know that everything I do is damaging the planet, and that before I’m 50 years old the world and society could be irreparably damaged. This is only added to by the absolutely inconceivable lack of political will to DO ANYTHING. I know some politicians are trying to be good but honestly can some people just stop trying to further their own ambition and actually do something good for the country and the world! The point of being a politician shouldn’t be the power itself! (Basically, the Tory leadership contest is absolutely dismal. And I continue to be frustrated that Labour still think they will win an election by not really changing any of their policies. Argh.)

We have declared a climate emergency, but if concrete policy that strengthens and increases current measures aren’t carried out, then what’s the point? We’re not just going to get to zero emissions by recycling now and then. And we need to do BIG things that limit companies rather than just pointlessly targeting vulnerable individuals (like with the plastic straws).

I feel very hopeless around the whole thing. I’ve written to my MP and downloaded the search engine Ecosia which uses the revenue from its advertising to plant trees (which can absorb carbon dioxide), as well as trying to be more active about recycling and plastic use, but it doesn’t feel like enough. Several of my friends have gone on the Youth Strike for Climate Change which I really admire. I wish I could do that, but every time it comes around I feel so worried because I know I’m missing work that will be in our exam.

Which brings me onto my next topic…this might be a bit of a strange transition, because it’s going from a huge issue that affects all of us and needs global action to an extremely personal one. And I do feel bad worrying about university when it’s not actually important in the grand scheme of things. But as I said, it is something I have more control over and, you know, if society is going to disintegrate then I want to make the most of the time that I have.

Before I started Year 12 I thought that I’d want to study something like Spanish, History, or Politics after leaving school. (I take Spanish, History, Maths and Latin.) However, as the year has progressed I’ve realised that a) one of my Spanish teachers is really not great and b) whilst History is extremely interesting and useful, it requires so much work and it’s not the work that I really look forward to. It feels like it takes so much time  from my other subjects. I’m just sort of…meh. I don’t know. And whilst I still care about politics in general, I’m just not really finding myself motivated to do extra work around it? Especially in comparison to other things I’ve been drawn into like ancient history.

Yeah. So, now I have ended up trying to decide which of these  two subjects — that I was most enthusiastic about at the start of the year — to drop, which is strange. I’ve got mock exams next week so I’m going to see how I do in those… I’ll be honest, they’re quite stressful because they’re giving me my predicted grades, but at least I don’t have to go through the whole shebang of public exams.

The idea of leaving school is stressful. I have decided that I want to go to uni but obviously I don’t know where or studying exactly what yet. My life has changed quite a bit in the last year and I feel like it’s only going to change so much more after sixth form ends. I’ll have to make new friends! I’ll probably have to discover a new place to live! I’ll have to learn about organising my own time! I really hope that I’ll be able to come out and get people to use the right pronouns for me but I know that there’ll probably be a lot of explaining to do. But it’s a nice thought.

It’s all just exciting but also terrifying. At the same time, I feel bad for getting excited because the world is also collapsing around me and I KNOW that I can’t function on worry all the time but my brain still does that I guess. I’m not exactly sure how to move forwards. At least writing this post helped; I’ve actually written a lot here, which is kind of wow. If any of you are going through or have gone through similar things — let’s share our thoughts?

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GCSE Spanish and Modern Language Revision Guide

The text '#evestudies modern languages gcse revision tips' over a photo of a notebook strewn with coloured pens.

¡Hola! Bonjour! As GCSE season approaches, I’d like to share another revision tips post. I am, in fact, currently revising Spanish so this is very relevant to my daily life.

I know many people take modern foreign languages for GCSE, whether that be Spanish, French, German, Mandarin, or anything else. Revising for languages can seem intimidating, and so I’m here to provide you with some starting points. I also want to reassure that you do not have to be completely fluent to achieve the grades you want at GCSE, or to communicate with people from another country. It’s all a matter of taking small steps to get there, wherever ‘there’ might be for you.

So, for some context I took Spanish GCSE and am now taking it at A-Level. Although this will be based on my experience revising for Spanish, I also believe that many of the strategies can be applied to other modern languages too. These are the strategies that work best for me, but as always keep in mind that all our brains work differently so if a certain method doesn’t work for you then it’s not a problem! You can try another!

The GCSE exam is split into four parts, so it makes sense to split your practice into four broad categories: reading, writing, listening, and oral. 

However, before it comes to practising these skills, it’s important to revise the foundations of the language — grammar, vocab, and subject content. I prioritise basic grammar (such as being able to use verbs in different tenses) and vocabulary over everything. Both of these central pillars are important in EVERY aspect of the exam.

But how exactly can you revise these elements of the language? My favourite resource for studying up on grammar is languagesonline.org.uk. (They also have French, German and Italian) Before doing anything else I like to go through the most important tenses to refresh my memory. If you struggle with figuring out how to form a tense I would definitely recommend spending some time looking at the present, preterite and future. You can do a few exercises each day and then come back to them later. With languages, I find that spreading out your practice often helps it stick in your memory more than trying to cram everything in during one concentrated session. I also used the Viva Edexcel grammar and translation workbook for Spanish which is excellent.

There’s just too much vocab to learn — how can you make a meaningful start on it?  Of course, learning vocab throughout your course will prove very useful. But it’s OK, there’s still time! Instead of attempting to work from the whole 1,500 word vocab list for the entire GCSE (or whatever it is), I went through the textbook and created a Quizlet set for all the words that I didn’t know and thought were the most important. This left me with three sets of 100-200 words which grouped the modules together. I love Quizlet because whenever I’m on the train, waiting in the lunch queue etc I can revise a little bit of vocab and get just that little bit further.

I know that many people (myself included) find language orals very nerve-wracking. The degree to which you prepare your oral answers is up to you — in the new exam board we did, they penalised us for sounding too prepared which I absolutely understand. However, if you’re not confident I’d advise doing at least a little practise of some questions, especially for the roleplay, even if that’s practising improvisation. (Which in the end is better for learning to speak the language!)

I did prepare some answers, but tried to focus on learning content I might have to bring up, like where I did my work experience, rather than on the language. I do think it’s a decision you have to make based on your experiences and fluency in the language though.

I would absolutely recommend trying to listen to some non-exam-based Spanish because I found that it really helped not only my listening but my speaking. By forcing me to ‘think’ more in Spanish rather than constantly translating and thus not speaking so well. In particular, I like the Notes in Spanish podcast and News in Slow Spanish. This could also include TV shows or Youtube videos — hopefully there’s something you’ll find interesting.

Finally, speaking in the language with your friends is a fun way to not only be building up your language skills but also having fun! Even if it’s not the most beautiful complex language, I find that talking to my friends is a very relaxed atmosphere where I can build up my confidence.

So, to recap some concrete strategies you might use whilst revising, you could be:

  • Going through the textbook, noting down important content and unknown words
  • Going through grammar on languages online or in a grammar workbook
  • Revising vocab on Quizlet
  • Doing a mock oral card, recording yourself and listening back
  • Going through the oral answers and speaking them to yourself or someone else
  • Doing practise listening/reading exercises from the textbook
  • Building up listening skills by watching TV, listening to podcasts etc.

I hope you find this post useful, and good luck with both your exams and language learning. 🙂 You can also check out my other revision tips posts for GCSE Music and GCSE Science.

are there any languages you’d like to learn? I have SO MANY! do you have any tips for revision for language gcses, or learning languages in general?

GCSE Music Revision Tips

The text '#evestudies gcse music revision tips' over a photo of a notebook strewn with coloured pens.

Hi there! Do you take Music GCSE? Then this post is for YOU! Please imagine me pointing at you like in one of those posters. Okay, no, for real — I’m currently in Year 12, having taken my GCSEs last year, and one of the most frustrating things was being the first group to take the course in almost all my subjects. There were very few resources or guides available, and even the teachers didn’t really know what to expect from marking.

Unfortunately I don’t know exactly how they marked my exam, but I was really happy with my music result as I got a 9 (A* equivalent). I thought it would be useful for me to share some of the resources, methods and ti[s that worked for me. This post is going to be focusing on the written exam — I took Edexcel GCSE, which is the one where you have 8 set pieces and the exam is worth 40% of the total mark. But if you’re taking another exam board then the techniques will be similar. Do feel free to check out the other posts in my #evestudies series too.

It’s really important that you figure out what works best for you, though — I know you’re probably sick of people saying it but all of us work in different ways and what works for me might not work for you.

The three main areas that I would focus on for the written exam are learning the features of the set pieces, developing musical theory/analysis skills and practicing exam technique. I’ll be going through them one by one.

#1: features of set the set pieces

Firstly, learning the features of the set pieces. Although this does tie into developing your analysis skills, since you have to be able to write about the features, a lot of it really is just getting familiar with the pieces and memorising features. The amount of memorising versus being able to analyse music on the spot will vary on the piece; for example, there’s a lot more to remember about the classical pieces in terms of the names of forms, particular techniques and genres, whereas for a work like Release (a fusion) it’s more about being able to talk about the changing dynamics and texture from the extract that they give you.

For every set work I created a grid of features with the headings Structure, Tonality & Harmony, Instrumentation, Texture, Melody, Tempo, Rhythm and metre, and Other. I filled them in with all my notes from lessons, then the features from the textbook, answers to practice questions we did in class and from any other sources I could find. This was my main source of note-taking.

The ‘Other’ section usually covered things particular to that section of study; eg in the Bach and Beethoven context about the development of the harpsichord to the piano and how that affected Romanticism, or the significance in the plot of Defying Gravity. I’ve put all my typed notes up on a Google Drive if you want to take a look or use them for your own revision.

It’s really important that you know the difference between these elements because in the exam the question will usually ask you to talk about one or a few of them. Even if you say something valid, if it’s about a musical element they didn’t ask for then you won’t get a mark. There’s a good BBC Bitesize Guide on it here. Really get used to the kinds of features and words that you see coming under each musical element.

For this section I would VERY strongly recommend using the Edexcel GCSE Music Student Book. We got given it as our textbook for the course and it was so useful — it goes in depth into the features of each set work and also has a bit about composition and performance at the start. I also found annotating the anthology with the blank scores in is extremely useful. That’s is where I wrote all of my notes from class. At the start of my revision session, I would follow the score as I listened to the piece. You can also listen to all the pieces with the scores at the same time on Youtube.

Additionally, Edexcel actually have a support guide for each set work which covers the musical features in detail. I only discovered this like a day before the exam and I got really stressed out about the amount I didn’t recognise — so remember that these are probably more in detail than you’ll be asked for!

#2: musical theory and analysis

Secondly, developing musical theory and analysis skills. This definitely does overlap with the previous section. However, it will also help you with the unheard piece you have to answer questions on. As I said, it’s extremely important you become familiar with the different musical elements you might be asked to talk about and what kind of things you can say for each one. In class we made a mindmap of what you can talk about with each heading and it was great

For example, for rhythm you could think about: does this have lots of fast rhythms? dotted notes? triplets? is there a repeated rhythm? is it syncopated?

If you’re talking about texture, there are some great words you can use: monophonic (only one line of music, there’s only moments of these in the pieces), polyphonic (lots of different equally important lines of music) or homophonic (everything else). You might also say it has a fugal texture (the Bach), or a thin or thick texture.

You might have to go into further detail and talk about the effect this has, for example the triplet rhythms at the start of Star Wars give it a military and heroic feel, or a thinner texture might feel more intimate. It doesn’t have to be a whole English essay though.

Honestly, I found the unprepared listening section pretty difficult, especially if it asks you to give a chord or something. But you can sometimes use your powers of deduction to figure it out. The best way to develop your musical theory technique is to practice…which brings me nicely on to my final point.

#3: exam practice

Finally, practicing your exam technique is key. You can know a million musical features and still be stumped about how to answer a question in the exam. I know there aren’t that many past papers online which sucks. At school we used selections from this and this set of papers which seemed to work OK. Use the official Edexcel sample paper well.

This doesn’t just need to be actually doing exam questions; it might be thinking what questions they could ask you whilst revising and the analysis you might do. For the fusion they do enjoy asking about what genres the works ‘fuse’ so that’s always a good one. I personally like playing the pieces to someone else, and stopping it as we go through so I can explain what effect a particular feature has.

Also, this might sound simple but remember to read the question! I’ve been told that a thousand times but I misread the 12-marker at the end and had to frantically change my answer which I do not recommend. To practise for the 12-marker, you can go through the wider listening in the textbook, you can pick a piece in the same genre as one of the set works to get more practise.

PHEW! This really was a long post! I hope these tips help you and good luck with your exam and all your coursework. Remember to take breaks from work and take care of yourself as well. 🙂

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. 🙂

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

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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!