Itunu's blog

Itunu is currently a first year student at the University of Birmingham. She will be blogging about her uni experiences and sharing advice along the way.

Back to School, Dividers and the E-Word

 Back to school!!! 'Why the exclamation marks?' I hear you scream. School was actually really good last week. Such a plot twist, I know. After a much needed break I was totally ready to get back to work. Folders organised, pencil case with pens that worked. I was pretty much prepared for world domination from first lesson Monday morning. At least that's what I thought; I mean I had folders with dividers. DIVIDERS!!!
Once I got back to school the one thing on everyone’s mind was the e word - EXAMS. I couldn't even pretend that exams weren't going to happen with everyone giving me a countdown. Exams are soon, that's all I am going to say, and it seems that now is the perfect time to start preparing for them. According to Student Room 60% of students say that the best time to start revising for A-Levels (and GCSEs I would add) is in February. Student Room has some fantastic advice and resources for you to prepare for exams (check out the link below) but here is my advice on exam preparation:
GCSE: Make a proper revision plan. When I say proper, I mean proper. Make a really specific plan with the subjects you are going to revise every day (you could even do sub topics if you want to be really detailed).  I got through GCSEs by spending my evenings revising. I would get home and relax,watch TV listen to music , and just forget about everything for a while, then a few hours before I went to sleep I would revise. It means that you are always revising in a practical way without burning yourself out. Of course, everyone is different but I would say that during the school week revise for about 2 (maybe even 3) hours a day. That way you leave time for homework and relaxation. Then go all out at the weekend. With food, coloured pens and a snazzy notebook revision becomes a bit more bearable-trust me. Don't beat yourself up if you don't follow your plan exactly either; sometimes other things will get in the way of your plans but just make sure you are working frequently and effectively. (I’ll do a really detailed post for all of you doing GCSEs next week)
A-Level: I am in Year 12 so I can't really give advice based on experience because I am too busy EXPERIENCING it all. I had a read through Student Room discussion threads however and it seems 2-3 extra revision a day is advised. The importance of consolidating your knowledge is also stressed, so looking back on your notes frequently and making absolutely sure that you understand everything is really important.  For more detailed advice, past exam papers and to make your own online study plan  check out this link on the Student Room website.
Have a lovely week
Itunu :)

Half term, mock results and the 'comparison bug'

Half term is finally here!
I left school on Friday feeling absolutely drained and I promise you that it had nothing to do with me writing my 5,000 word Extended Project draft in two days (not a good idea). It also had nothing to do with me cramming revision for a Psychology test on stress, which was quite stressful (oh wow that really was not funny) and it's definitely not because I got the results for my mocks. The whole week was literally a music video for 'cry me a river', except there was no Justin Timberlake and the river was my tears. It wasn't even a river; it was more like cry me a Niagara Falls, jump into it, swim to a deserted island and make friends with endangered animals. And yes, it really was that deep (OMD the irony).
It was the 'oh Itunu you look so sad', that snapped me out of my 'I'm-so-done-with-this' mood and I spent my free period channelling the happy vibes and sorting out the rest of my Extended Project. Yay PRODUCTIVITY!!!
When the day was over one of my friends brought up our mock exams and said 'I know this sounds bad, but I always compare my grades to other peoples. If one person gets the same grade as me but has an extra mark I don't feel as happy about my result'. Yes, yes and yes, someone finally said it. I totally got what she was saying. Despite a whole assembly on 'you are not your mock grades' and us being encouraged to see our mock results as a learning curve; the frustration of not getting the grades you want, coupled with the 'comparison bug', makes you feel rubbish. It's true. Ok, so that's the problem, what is the solution?
Constant comparison will never give you satisfaction.
We have all fallen into the 'I revised so much more than them, so why have they got a better grade than me?' way of thinking, but:
1) you don't actually know that you revised more than them (unless you've got your whole year under surveillance - then yeah you should stop that)
2) even if you do know (again stop with the whole surveillance thing) stop caring. They aren't you, you aren't them. The End.
The 'comparison bug' is on the verge of becoming a sixth form epidemic and I think that if we all relax and see mock results as an opportunity to improve, then we can stop it spreading. If your mock results were not great, or even if they were fabulous, use them to encourage you to work harder and smarter. You can even start this half term!
So, if you caught the 'comparison bug' when you returned to school, shake it off and remember that you still have time to turn things around.
Have a lovely week and remember WE'RE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER. 

Itunu :)
P.S Just realised that I made a HSM reference. BLAST FROM THE PAST!!! and just in case you missed it check out my last post.

So my friend said 'I really want to find my passion but I feel like school is getting in the way of that...'

'I really want to find my passion but I feel like school is getting in the way of that'
My friend randomly said this one day and I was taken aback. I didn't know how to respond and to be honest I still don't. Her comment took me aback because I wanted to give her some sort of solution but I couldn't. I think we are all slightly scared about not knowing what we are passionate about. To an extent school heightens our anxiety because of the time constraints and pressures to over perform. We are kind of pushed to follow the formula of get good grades-go to a good university- do a good course- get a good job=happiness. Now, I have many issues with this formula, that’s for another post, but the fear of that 'good course' or 'good job' being so far removed from what we are passionate about is frightening. I feel that it's important to acknowledge this first. School is stressful and scary but it is also fun and beautiful and such a small part of the grand scheme of things.
Although I don't have a clear cut solution to this problem, I will say that it’s important to pursue things that make you happy. Passion, in my opinion, is anything that makes you happy. For me it's writing. For you it may be sport, music, art, science, maths; whatever it may be- pursue it. Ask your school to help you. Join clubs, talk to teachers, talk to students and don't be afraid to change your mind. You might try out rugby and decide that physical contact with smelly people really isn't your cup of tea TRY SOMETHING ELSE. 
School in many ways has helped me to hone my skills and explore my passions and I've found that being open with peers and teachers can help you develop them even more. Once you find anyone that can help you on your ‘passion searching’ endeavour whether it be a teacher, a careers advisor or fellow students, latch on to them.
I'm so hell-bent on encouraging people to be more optimistic about school. School is your friend, if you want it to be, and at the end of the day you spend so long there so you might as well be happy. I'm all for giving education 110% but remember that your happiness is of equal importance. So, instead of viewing school as a roadblock to finding or pursuing your passions, view it as a tool to help you on your journey.


Hey Everyone!
I have been so excited about this for weeks and the day has finally come, I'M A BLOGGER FOR UCAS!!!
My name is Itunu and I'm currently in Year 12 studying English Literature, History, Psychology and Spanish. I'm going to be blogging once a fortnight about my school experience complete with the good, bad, ugly and the I-just-want-to-crawl-into-a-hole-with-a-box-of-pizza moments

I will also be sharing some advice about school for you e.g. revision tips, how to cope with exam stress and how to survive in the jungle that is school life.
Itunu :)