Exam stuff

That rubbish bit between offers and results (aka exams)

Given that I’m in the throes of revision right now I thought I’d do something a bit different today.

When I got my offer in January I was a proper keen bean. The thought of making an A*AA offer was kind of terrifying (although it’s very possible to get higher offers for AMES, especially if your qualifications are international) but having a freshly posted letter in my hand was great motivation to start looking at my A levels again after the frenzy of applying. I can categorically state this is A Good Idea. Putting in the work in January and the rest of the spring term is a great way to really get to know your subjects.

Of course, this does mean that by April you are very, very fed up of these subjects, especially since most of the time us AMES lot aren’t studying what we’ll be doing at uni (unless you have amazing powers of motivation/really enjoy your subjects/or maybe it’s just me???). This is also fine, but at some point the eager beaver motivation does have to return. Whether this happens naturally, out of fear and panic or needs to be coaxed out is up to each person. I personally found it quite difficult to get motivated again. Here are some things I found useful (disclaimer: I haven’t met my offer yet so these are not tried and tested):

  • Lucy Parsons’s blog Life More Extraordinary – as well as providing really good advice on revision strategies, personal statements and so on she does regular blog posts about things like motivation, what to do in revision breaks and so on. A great resource.
  • Cambridge/study-related YouTubers – okay, this is also a source of procrastination but seeing people at Cambridge/other people also doing exams (especially at this time of year) really helped me stay motivated. Notable examples – not all of which are still studying – are Jake Wright (Queens’, Computer Science, lots of studying videos), Holly Gabrielle (Queens’, Natural Sciences, weekly vlogs on how her life works at Cambridge), Joe Binder (Fitzwilliam, Geography, very much a procrastination support group), Ibz Mo (Wolfson, HSPS, what can I say other than #badbitchsquad), and UnJaded Jade (sixth former, lots of motivation and advice). Obviously others exist but these are my personal favourites!
  • Taking a break – this sounds really counterintuitive but I got to the point where no matter what I did I just couldn’t motivate myself to revise, I was so bored of it. I felt like I was just going over the same things over and over again (I guess that’s what it is ultimately…). I felt a bit like this:
    Yes, anime was partly the reason why I got interested in Japanese…

    Most people recommmend you take the day off – I decided to take 5 days off. This was just after my study leave started, i.e. three and a bit weeks before my exams start. Obviously that’s a bit of a risk but 5 days of doing anything but revision (I went to another city to stay with a friend) allowed me to get out of the i-hate-a-levels mindset, and I went back home afterwards with a resolve to get my head down and smash it. Whether I’m smashing it is up for debate but I’m definitely doing more than I was doing.

  • Making (another) timetable: I started my revision by making a timetable that worked around school and other things, but obviously when I went on study leave school went out of the window which made me feel a bit like I was wandering aimlessly in a desert of time I should have been spending revising but didn’t want to. So once I got back from The Break I sat down with a calendar and worked backwards from my exams and planned to cover everything a few more times. This helped me focus a lot more as it felt a lot more targeted, specific and therefore (hopefully) effective.

Well, I think they’re the main things I’ve done differently to previous years to stay motivated – given the added challenge and pressure of meeting an offer in the final year of education, extra motivation is definitely needed. Even so, we’re all in the same boat, so if these don’t help either know you’re not the only one having a rubbish time.

Good luck to all sitting exams, and I hope you all achieve what you set out to do! 加油!

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