Sunday, 27 May 2012

Stops and Starts

I can't even remember what it was like to not be in school. We've had nursery and pre-school and junior school and senior school and sixth form and now, finally, study leave at the end of it all. With a eight or nine exams to populate it.

I'm writing this on Sunday, we left school on Tuesday, and in between then I've managed to get two of the nine exams I must complete to get into uni, out of the way. I don't have another until the 11th of June, which is a nice long break, and gives me good time to get in some good healthy procrastination. It's weird being back in the exam hall. The last exam I did was my retake back in January, and the fact that I had to go to an external exam centre to do it actually made it feel like much more of a big deal than these two.

The thing is, you're just so distracted during this last term that the exams kind of creep up on you. It started about a month ago, in Maths, when we suddenly realised it was one month to go until our first Maths exam; Statistics. We sort of chatted about how horrible that was, and how none of us were prepared, and how weird it was that the exam was so soon. Then, suddenly, it was a Wednesday afternoon and I was sitting in a lesson, thinking 'in exactly 7 days I'll be sitting in the exam hall doing my other Philosophy retake.'

It hasn't really hit me yet that I've left. We've still got lots of other things coming up after exams; barbecues, balls, a celebratory evening or two, but we'll never again experience the regimented life of the school day; we'll never have to complain about dragging ourselves in half asleep on a Monday morning, never have to do any more 'homework,' never have to complain about the younger years skipping ahead in the lunch queue. I was really, really, really lucky to go to such an amazing school. Most people aren't so lucky, but I was, and I guess writing this blog in some way helps me to give back by sharing the advice they have given us. Without our head of sixth form, head of careers, form tutors and all the other staff throughout our school years, I know for a fact that we would be completely lost when thinking about the concept of university. I've been vaguely thinking about going into teaching after my degree, and if I end up being anything like as good as them, then I'll consider myself very lucky.

So, the exams. My first exam, like I mentioned, was a Philosophy retake. Lesson #1 folks - try to get it right first time, because then you'll end up with less to do in the summer afterwards! It was even harder than it had been in January to try and cram all the stuff I'd learnt a year ago back into my brain, but I think I managed it more successfully than I did back in May last year, which was a useful affirmation of the fact that my former method of revision (typing out the textbook feverishly) really was a load of rubbish. It's strange and yet very familiar being back in the exam hall, with its rattling fan in the boiling heat, and I was glad to get out of there... only to zip back home and start cramming for Statistics on Thursday. I think I did ok in that one, although I found it hard without the comfort blanket of the mark scheme immediately within my reach, which had accompanied me while I slogged through past papers. The most annoying thing is when post-exam discussion means you realise you've done a question wrong, and there's nothing you can do about it, and yet that one mistake hangs over you more than anything else about the paper. I know some people go to look up mark schemes for maths papers immediately after they've completed them, but I'd warn against it - there's no point, it's better to just forget about it until 16th August and instead concentrate on doing as well as you can in your other exams.

Anyway, that's all from me for the moment! I'm going to try and tackle the mysteries of Student Finance this evening (I know, I know, I've left it so late) so should put in an update about that pretty soon. As always, if you have any queries or thoughts, let me know in the comments!


Sunday, 6 May 2012

Can't Revise? Then listen to this...

I can't revise. That's probably obvious, given the fact that I'm typing this on a Sunday afternoon when I ought to be the most motivated, and with a Bank Holiday tomorrow this is a great chance to get some serious work done... but nope. Can't do it. So instead, I started googling 'motivational songs' which mostly seemed to result in articles detailing playlists for the gym. But hey, given the choice between running on a treadmill and leafing through a incomprehensible textbook... how different are they really?

Lots of people like revising in silence, or with calm music on in the background that sounds vaguely similar to a burbling tap. A few people I know will turn on the television just to have the sound of conversation in the background, to distract them from their thoughts of 'oh god I learnt this last week and I can't even remember what existentialism is panic panic panic.' I'm not one of that lot. And so, in no particular order, ten songs that will definitely motivate you to stop reading this and get back to work...

1. Reach - S Club 7 (LINK)
I think we can all agree that the feeling 'when it seems that all your hopes and dreams are a million miles away' is never more prevalent than during the revision period.

2. Staying Alive - The Bee Gees (LINK)
Okay I just like this song. I suppose it's relevant in that, whatever happens in that History Unit 3 paper you've been dreading, you're not very likely to keel over in the middle of it. Silver lining right there.

3. Don't Stop Me Now - Queen (LINK)
Bringing the 'fun' back to 'revision.' I personally feel that having 'don't stop me now 'cause I'm having a good time' booming in the background might trick your subconscious into actually enjoying a couple of hours of note-taking.

4. All These Things That I've Done - The Killers (LINK)
When there's nowhere else to run, and you've invented every possible excuse as to why you can't revise, is there room for one more maths paper? I think so.

5. Eye of the Tiger - Survivor (LINK)
Awesome song. I listened to it and tried typing at the pace of the 'dumdumdumdumdumdumdum' in the background... didn't work. Never mind! You'd think this song loses its cool when the fight it refers to actually ends up referring to the fight against your ever-present inclination towards general laziness, but it doesn't.

6. I Will Survive - Gloria Gaynor (LINK)
In a similar vein to 'Staying Alive' above. I get the relevance of 'At first I was afraid, I was petrified' but I failed in my quest to create an analogy to revision from 'thinking I could never live without you by my side' unless the "you" refers to UCAS Track. Never mind.

7. You're The Best - Joe Esposito (LINK)
So many good lyrics here. Even if 'you're the best around, nothing gonna ever keep you down' sounds like the sort of lie your mum might dredge up, the rest of it works. When I was checking the lyrics they'd even transcribed 'INSPIRING GUITAR SOLO' in the middle. I rest my case.

8. So What - P!nk (LINK)
So what if it's a nice day? So what if there are a billion more enjoyable things to do? So what if you accidentally ripped your folder into pieces and now have to carry it around in bits? (happened to me the other day)

9. Wake Me Up Before You Go Go - Wham! (LINK)
I'm sure we've all wondered what it would be like if we woke up too late for an exam... last year I got locked in the bathroom the morning of my C2 Maths exam and it had to be broken open with a crowbar, but that wasn't because I'd fallen asleep in the sink, it was because the door was rubbish.

10. Walking On Sunshine - Katrina & the Waves (LINK)
Okay this rather more fits the feeling you get when you're spilling out of the exam hall after your last paper, and you begin ranting to everyone who will listen about how rubbish the questions were while at the same time jumping up and down at the prospect of the long long summer ahead with nothing to do but relax. It's still a good revision song though.. a reminder of the light at the end of the tunnel!

Okay, so that's that! I feel like I've engaged in a sufficient amount of time wasting by typing it out, so maybe I'll follow my own advice and get back to the good old textbooks. As always, leave me a comment if you have a question/comment/criticism or if you want to share anecdotes of being motivated to pick up a pen and paper after having had the Teletubbies theme tune on loop for a while. If you've enjoyed this post or any of my others, please let UCAS know here!

Have a nice week!