Last week, thousands of Y11s across the country sat down and opened the pages of their first exam; we’ll have to spend the next two months writing paper after paper, fiddling with calculators and trying to figure out how to use a compass for the hundredth time. As I was sitting in the exam hall I couldn't help but think: why am I doing this? We’ve all been told that GCSEs are important; they can help us get good jobs - or at least craft good applications - but how important are they really? And are they worth all that stress?
Last week I turned 16. I’d finally made it – but how did I feel? Surprisingly, indifferent. My parents on the other hand were ecstatic, overjoyed and overwhelmingly proud. My birthdays have always been big – it's something my parents insist on and a part of family life – but this year I wanted a change.
Wow, what a year. I started year 11, survived remote learning AGAIN, finished my mocks and now I’m writing a blog each month for Push. I find that this time of year is perfect for reflection and thinking about new beginnings and so I’ve decided to share a few of my closing thoughts on 2021.
Work smarter, not harder, is a favourite mantra of mine. Although this article focuses on studying, it can be applied to every aspect of life.
The inspiration for this topic came to me a few months ago, as I sorted through a box of old paperwork in my room. I came across a sheet of paper from my A-levels, listing the hours of revision I had done each day. I stared down the columns of 5s, 6s, and 7s, and was struck by the vivid recollection of just how bad my revision had been.
Exam season can be stressful – mountains of revision, deadlines closing in and the ticking clock in the exam hall, counting down the seconds. You might feel obliged to get a certain grade or meet expectations. It can feel like you’re under a lot of pressure from many different people, including yourself. Some dread the long hours of revision leading up to exams but are relieved when it's over. Others can’t stop worrying about the answer to question 7 - or was it question 6? as the invigilator marches away with their paper...
Whilst getting good grades is important, you also have to be kind to yourself.
It's all too easy to forget this and get caught up with the stress and anxiety exam season can bring. Below I’ve listed some techniques I use to keep myself level headed and calm as I do my mock exams.
It goes without saying, but Covid-19 has caused a nice little disruption in students’ education and wellbeing. From school closures to exam stress, we’re left floating in a void of uncertainty. What’s next? To help clear up the confusion, we share a few tips on how you can regain control, reduce anxiety and achieve your learning goals.
In a world full of social media and other digital distractions, technology can either be a huge time drain, or it can be used to our advantage. Whether you want to improve your family or social life, your work performance, or your study habits, you can do it with the help of a good productivity app.
I'm going to share a few of my favourite productivity apps below, but first let's look at the benefits of using a productivity app to track your habits and goals.
Aaand we’re here.
Assessment period, season or, rather, an everlasting storm of frantic cramming. When we started a two year course for GCSEs/ A-levels/ Btecs I don’t think any of us thought we’d be assessed like this (and, if you did, scrap all career plans to make it as a fortune teller). The social, political and educational changes we’ve seen over the past two years have been absolutely immense… I mean, schools haven’t closed like this for over a hundred years. It’s not exactly been a twenty four month snow day though, has it? As we draw to the end of it all, I’ll be talking about what’s kept us more or less sane throughout this period- our mind!
With everything opening up again and exams for year 11’s and year 13’s getting ever-closer, time management and prioritising is going to be a key skill this month.
Of course, putting things into perspective is important too, both on a global and personal perspective. In this blog, I’ll be talking about things you should be doing to get ready for oncoming assessments, as well keeping up with broader things.
Happy New Year! 2021, maybe a time to finish that UCAS if you haven’t already and hopefully start receiving some offers. If you haven’t received any, don’t worry, there’s some tips for that later on in the blog. I’ll also talk a bit about the very recent situation, which has caused quite a bit of confusion, the cancellation of GCSEs and A-Levels.
The likelihood is that your uni application is done and dusted. In which case… well done! The UCAS process is hard work, let alone doing it during a global pandemic. Put on top of that all the frustrations caused by multiple lockdowns and you’ve definitely got something to be proud of.
I’m sure you get told time and time again, but it has been a mentally and emotionally challenging time so being proud of what you have achieved so far, however small, is the least you can do for yourself. Yes, Shakespeare wrote an entire play during his lockdown in the plague, but, unfortunately, we can’t all be a world famous playwright… so writing a personal statement and sending it off to universities is a perfectly good achievement.
We all knew that going into school after a six month break would not look normal. Schools and teachers are all doing their best to make things run smoothly, even when there’s an imminent risk of a class being randomly eliminated. It’s like coronavirus is playing a pac-man video game to destroy the education system completely. With weapons of hand sanitisers and one way systems, it looks like schools are putting up a good fight.
Although you may not have had to self- isolate at home, the thought doesn’t seem as scary as before. Hopefully, by now, you have seen many procedures to make a potential quarantine at home easier. Luckily technology has rapidly advanced from the last time schools have had to close a century ago. It’s promising to see an abundance of lesson resources to help students who are self-isolating readily available online if needs be. This can be beneficial even if you are not working from home, for example, lesson powerpoint being uploaded onto your online portal for use in your revision.
Exams are cancelled because of the global pandemic.
That we know.
So what's happening with your grades? I'm sure you're eager to get a bit more clarity about your future. Well we've started to get some assurances from OFQUAL (Which is the abbreviation for the mouthful that is - Office of Qualifications and Exam Regulations). Their Chief Regulator Sally Collier has now issued a letter outlining how grades will be calculated and reassuring students these will be 'exactly the same as in previous years'.
Procrastination can be a serious productivity killer. It can get you into all sorts of deadline troubles, leading to frantic keyboard tapping and energy drink fuelled all-nighters.
It’s not just you – besides the most diligent and proactive of us, we’re pretty much all in this together. Picture the High School Musical number, except none of us want to dance right now. Maybe later.
So when the Independent reported on a uni student who blitzed through her dissertation project in a single night, mere hours before her deadline, we can’t say we weren’t a bit awe-struck.
And incredibly stressed on her behalf. But still. Impressive.
Wherever you are, school’s pretty much out for Summer now. You might have another week or so, but no one really does anything with that time anyway. You’re on the home stretch.
So, how are you going to max out your time off?
First thing’s first: relax. Yeah, you heard us. You won’t get many more opportunities in life to bliss out quite like this. Sure, there are some big decisions looming, and maybe some important exams in the not so distant future, but that’s tomorrow’s problem. Today’s for chilling.
Tomorrow though… it might be a good time to start looking for some part-time work to keep yourself busy.
Are you heading down the uni highway?
This month you can officially start applying to uni for 2020 entry. UCAS opens its website for people to register on 21st May.
Don’t worry, the deadline is still a while away, but the dogs are now off the leash.
Hopefully, if uni’s for you, then your ideas on what you might want to study have been gradually solidifying. If you’re not quite there yet, have a look at our Which Course? section for some help on working out what’s right for you.
Thought you were done with open days by this point? Think again.
By now, you've probably heard from most – if not all – the unis you applied to. If not, don’t worry. They're supposed to let you know by 31 March, but if you just can’t wait until then, it won't hurt to give them a call.
Now, while we’re sure that you made an effort to see all 5 of your choices before applying, we also understand that sometimes life gets in the way and you might not have had time for them all (err... or any of them).
If you’re thinking of going to uni in September 2019 and you haven’t got a shortlist yet, you’d better get yourself measured up for a thinking cap pretty fast.
Officially, you’ve got until January 15th to complete your application for most courses, but the deadline for Oxbridge, medicine and veterinary courses is only a month away.
Even if you’re not planning on applying for those courses, unis will start looking at and accepting applications from now, and so leaving it any later than the middle of November is cutting it fine. By then, the unis' firm 'yes' and 'no’ piles will be starting to grow. Some offers will already have been made. Some courses may be full already. Leaving your application till the last minute tells the uni you're not that serious.
With over a year to go before you apply, the whole uni decision may seem to be approaching more slowly than a slug on a Sunday. But before you know it, that gross silver slug slime could be all over you. What with all the coursework, revisions, exams, holidays, birthdays/bar mitzvahs/weddings, nights out, time spent on social media and so on, it's never too soon to get focused.
Now is a great time to be thinking about two of the big questions: what do you want to study and where do you want to study it?
Summer is well underway – we’ve broken into August now. You’ve had a heatwave (or six), you’ve had a long time to relax with the long academic year behind you now. Now’s the time to wipe the Mr. Whippy from your mouth and get yourself back into gear.
With not much more than a month left before schools and colleges start up again, you’re running out of time to make the most of your remaining freedom.
Take it from us: if you’re thinking of heading to uni, the best investment of your time is to visit as many as you can in the upcoming weeks. These can be local unis if that’s the area you want to stay in, or they can be further afield.
Do you know your bops from your balls? Or your CATS from your CUKAS?
Heading into the world of higher education can be like learning a new language – there's more jargon than you can shake a soc at. That's why we've created this handy glossary of all the weird and wonderful terms academics like to use. Let Push be your guide.
You'll need us. Honestly, it's a jungle out there.
Think you’ve missed the boat if you don’t head straight from college to uni? These days, that can’t be any further from the case. The stereotypical student may be late teens, early 20s, but the world of higher education is opening up more and more to mature students from all ages.
With this year's exams behind you, you'll be pleased to know that uni isn't all about books, lectures and exams. We all know students get up to other stuff, right? And this other stuff is important when it comes to getting the most out of the whole university experience.
We all know there's a variety of ways to get things to stick in your head: texts books, spider diagrams, post-it notes, mind-palaces, reading out loud, singing your revision and even sleeping with your notes under your pillow (note: we have no proof of the last one...).
If you have a basic understanding of how memory works you can incorporate this into the way you revise.
Did you know that all of your senses can be helpful when you revise for exams?
Some studies have found that if you always suck on Polos while revising the ins and outs of Biology, or wear the same perfume when thinking about French sentence structure, it can help encode what you're memorising. This is because all our senses are linked and they all make pathways into the process of remembering.
This, however, should only be used alongside your regular excellent study skills otherwise you'll be sat in your exam popping Polos and praying to a confectionery god. Not a good look for anyone.
For year 12s
Are you heading down the uni highway?
This month you can officially start applying to uni for 2019 entry. UCAS opens its website for people to register on 22nd May.
Don’t worry, the deadline is still a while away, but the dogs are now off the leash.
Hopefully, your thoughts about what you might want to study have, like chewing gum on the pavement, been getting firmer.
The next question is where to study? Sometimes this isn’t just about where it is in the country, but about what the place is
really like – the atmosphere.
No two unis are the same. The surroundings and building affect how it feels, but so too do the people, the students. Some
unis are posh, some are full of students from the area, some are ethnic melting pots, some are arty, sciency or businessy. Some are none of those things.
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