Tuesday, 31 July 2012


As we all know, the Olympics is (are?) here! I do love the Olympics and I have been watching TV pretty much ten hours a day. Sorry for the lack of posts on here lately, but I'm sure Olympics is high on your agenda as well, rather than an education blog!

It's nice to have a break from work, revision and put your mind off the upcoming exam results (16th and 23rd August for A-Levels and GCSEs respectively).

I am a keen supporter of Great Britain and South Korea (having lived in the UK for 13 years, yet having Korean blood). There seem to have been a few controversies along the way, especially with South Korea, most notably Park Tae-Hwan's disqualification for an alleged false start, which was eventually overruled. Wang Ki-Chun's decision that went against him in the semi-final of the Judo.

And the worst one: Shim A-Lam's major disappointment that left her crying for over an hour on the piste due to a controversial decision against her in the Fencing semi-final. She had one second left to hold onto a 5-5 draw, and the timer went to zero, only to be reset to one again. Then, it seemed that the one second was over, only for the timer to take an absolute age to count down to zero, by which time the German opponent had hit her, and overtaken her 6-5 to advance to the finals. Controversial to say the least.

All is not lost though, as South Korea have claimed 3 gold medals (1 in Shooting, 1 in Archery and 1 in Judo) and lie 4th as I write this post. Great Britain are yet to earn a gold medal, but with some major events approaching, it is not going to last long.

I love the Olympics! (There probably will not be many posts during the time of the Olympics. Sorry everyone!)
Saturday, 28 July 2012

Best Chemistry Revision Site

Regardless of what exam board you are on, the single best Chemistry revision site must be Chemguide. It has been so useful to me for my 2 years doing A-Level. If there is any content in your syllabus which your teacher hasn't particularly explained to you well, Chemguide is the answer. If there is some homework which you can't do because you don't understand the content, Chemguide is the answer.

Although the site may not be the 'flashiest' of all sites, the layout is neat and tidy. It has nice headings, subheadings and lots of diagrams. I genuinely believe that Chemguide was the biggest factor towards me getting a good grade in Chemistry A-Level, which many say is the hardest A-Level.

Making some notes from the Chemguide website itself would be a great start for revision as well. Do make sure to compare the Chemguide answers with your exam board though, as minor details may differ.


Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Physics AS Questions and Answers

The Physics Questions and Answers I posted before was for the A2 syllabus. The link below is for the AS syllabus. Once again, I found these extremely useful for revision and I made sure that I knew these answers off by heart. It's good to understand the answers too, but if you're really short of time, just try to memorise them. These types of questions come out very often, so it's handy to have the mark scheme answers in hand.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Results Day

So when exactly is Results Day?
I don't mean to frighten you, but it's coming up rather soon.

Until then, I advise you to keep your mind off it, go out and have some more fun.
But it is essential that you know when your results come in, so that you are prepared.
SQA: Tuesday 7 August
AS and A Level: Thursday 16 August
GCSE: Thursday 23 August

On the day, there are two scenarios (for A Level students). You either got the grades you needed and you got into your first-choice university, or you missed out on the grades and missed out on the first-choice university.

If Successful:

The decision will now be updated in Track and you will receive the official UCAS Confirmation letter. The letter will then outline anything you may need to do to confirm your place at your desired university.

If Unsuccessful:

If you narrowly missed out on your offer, I would advise you to contact the university concerned ASAP, and ask them whether they would still give you a place. It's important that this is done as soon as possible, as other people will be doing the same, and your place might no longer be there.
If you miss out on the first-choice offer, but meet the conditions required at your insurance choice university, you have nothing to worry about, and your place at that university will be confirmed in Track.
If you miss out on the first-choice and insurance university offers, then you will be eligible for Clearing.

What is Clearing?

Clearing is a service by UCAS that allows applicants that did not get a university place to other universities that are vacant in the UK. If you did not meet any of your university offers, then an 'Add Clearing choice' button will automatically appear on your Track screen.
Monday, 23 July 2012

Stress Relief

It's always nice to take a break from working and revising.

Now, what are your methods to relieving stress?

Here are a few of mine:

  • Taking a long hot bath
  • Singing loudly in the shower
  • Shouting as loud as you can where no one can hear you
  • Listening to loud music in your room with your eyes closed
  • Punching my pillow (I wish I had a punchbag)
  • Taking a stroll

During my exam period, I one day decided to do the latter, take a stroll. It happened to be on the Queen's Jubilee day, and it was a nice day. Took a photo by the river, with some swans!

Sunday, 22 July 2012

A Biology Game: Pandemic 2

An extremely fun game called Pandemic 2.
I would classify this game as a Biology game as it involves becoming a disease and trying to infect the whole world.

I love this game. WARNING: It is highly addictive.

Pandemic 2
Saturday, 21 July 2012

Top 5 Sites for Past Papers and Mark Schemes

When your exams are looming, it is a good idea to have a feel for what the exam is going to be like. Past papers are extremely important in getting a good grade. This post is a list of all the good sites where you can get past papers and mark schemes for free. Most exam boards have past papers and mark schemes on their site, but usually they are really expensive and not as expansive.

1. Free Exam Papers
This has pretty much everything. It might not have the very latest papers (i.e. the last year or two) but the range of exam boards that it covers is huge. GCSE, iGCSE, IB, A Level, SAT.. You name it, they have most of the past papers here!

2. Free Past Papers
This site is still in the making, but it is making promising progress. At the moment, it has full SATs (KS1, KS2 and KS3) and the GCSE papers are in beta. They currently only have the GCSE Maths papers at the moment, but expect the other papers to come shortly.
The site was only launched in January this year, but they have come a long way since then and are attracting a healthy number of visitors! They are anticipating everything to be ready by 2013, so keep an eye out for them.

3. Carl Gauss
This is my personal favourite for Maths past papers for A Level and iGCSE. It has a neat interface, and has most of the content too. It's missing the higher end papers such as FP2 and FP3, but I really like the layout of the page.

4. XtremePapers
XtremePapers is my favourite site for past papers. The site is appealing to the eye in its archive-like manner and it really has everything I ever need. This site has hardly ever let me down. I highly recommend this site.

5. Maths Papers

The heading explains this site pretty well. It is a site of only maths papers for A Level, for Edexcel and AQA exam boards. It has all the modules you will need though, and it is the one I used most for A Level Maths. The only downside is the slightly cheap-looking interface, but that shouldn't really matter, because the content is brilliant.,
Thursday, 19 July 2012

Revision Techniques: Don'ts

Now here is the sequel to my previous post! The 10 Don'ts when you revise!


1. Work with your laptop on

Personally, I find revising without my laptop on almost an impossible task. If I'm at my desk, I find myself always leaving my laptop on (but on one side) while doing my work on a different side of my desk. Sure enough, this almost always leads to me checking Facebook, my email, looking at some sports news, going on YouTube etc. and I end up doing no work at all! This is the pure evil of procrastination folks.

The thing to do is turn your laptop off. This is easier said than done, and I completely agree with you. Like I said, I find it almost impossible. What you can do however, is go do your revision work somewhere else. Use your school library. Go downstairs to the dining room. Just somewhere with no access to a computer! And leave your mobile phone while you're at it.

2. Leave it to the last minute

If the exam is in the summer, I start my revision in the Easter holidays. I wouldn't start revising too early, as often is the case, you end up exhausted by the time your exam comes, and you have reached your peak a long time ago. I've had early peaking before, and trust me, it is not pleasant.  You reach a stage where you glance over your revision notes to, because you think you have learnt everything, and when you actually do a past paper, you can't remember the stuff. This is a nightmare, and is extremely hard to put right!

However, you don't want to leave it to the last minute, obviously. You want to have plenty of time to ask your teachers of anything your uncertain about, and some time to quietly do some past papers yourself and explore the mark schemes. Time management and organisation is key to a successful exam grade!

3. Sleep too late

A common mistake that people make is to sleep little during the exam period and the period building up to the exams. They try and cram as much revision as they can, at the expense of their sleeping time. Unless you really are stretched for time, I would highly discourage losing sleep over revision. You either end up being really tired the next day, not being able to concentrate when you try and revise again, or you wake up really late! Especially on exam days, I'd make sure to get a good sleep, so that you are fresh and wide awake in the morning. A well-known advice, I know, but it's very important that you sleep well during your exam and revision period.

4. Switch off in lessons

When it comes to revision, many people tend to focus when they revise at home, but switch off when they go to school. If you do your homework properly, and pay attention during class, you will find revising much easier and more effective. Don't separate your classwork and homework from revision!

5. Just look at your revision notes

Don't just stare at your revision notes, pleading for the information to go into your head. Just reading the notes is probably the worst way to revise. Try making your revision as active as possible. You can do this by annotating on the margin, highlighting the material to make them stand out, make flashcards or test the content with another friend! Active ways tend to be better at helping you learn the stuff.

6. Be arrogant

If you overestimate your ability at a particular subject, or rely too much on your brain, saying to yourself "I don't need to work that hard because I'm naturally quite clever", you might end up disappointed on the exam day, or the results day. It's better to undermine your intelligence, so that you work and revise that much harder. Also try to overachieve, rather than underachieve! You should always aim for 100% in an exam, rather than 80% if you are trying to get the A grade. That way, you have a large margin for error.

7. Revise from a computer

The computer is the twentieth century enemy for students. It's the primary source of procrastination, along with the evil that is the smartphone. If you have revision material on your computer, print it off. It's always better to have a hard copy that you can annotate on and revise from, than from a computer screen. Try to keep your mobile phone away from you, turning it on silent, or turning it off completely. You'll be surprised at how much better your revision will be, if you put your mind off receiving texts and checking Facebook every so often.

8. Forget to take a break

Like I mentioned in the previous post, always give yourself nice breaks in between revision sessions. Even a small amount of time like 15 minutes will keep you motivated and focused. 5 hour shifts of revision is going to be less effective than three 1-hour sessions of revision with 15 minutes break in between. Try have a go yourself. For the former, you'll most probably end up procrastinating to waste a little bit of time, whereas in the latter, you will actually do the work in the 1-hour shift. All in all, a much more effective and pleasant way of revising.

9. Avoid revising subjects you dislike or are not confident in

Another common mistake is to delay the subject you like the least, or the one you're least good at, until the end. It should always be the other way round. Make sure to put more time and effort into the subjects you're worst at, so that you have plenty of time to revise it. If you leave it to the end, you will undoubtedly be under a lot of stress at the limited time you have left until your exam, and feel that you are inevitably doomed. Don't let that happen!

10. Forget that exams aren't everything

If your exam is in a couple of weeks, or a couple of days, and you feel that you are no way near ready for it, don't stress about it or fret about it too much. Calm down, and try to do as much as you can before the exam. If you fret about it, you will get nothing done and your exam will most probably go badly. Try and motivate yourself - exams aren't everything. Even if you do badly in this exam, you can retake it next year, take a gap year, and reapply to the university that you wanted to go to. It isn't the end of the world if you do badly in an exam!

Revision Techniques: Do's

I have made a list of 10 Do's that you should stick to when you revise. It doesn't work for everyone, but in general I think you should stick to these guidelines. My exam grades haven't let me down so far.


1. Make a revision timetable

These are always extremely helpful to make you stick to your timetable and actually do your revision. So many people tend to procrastinate and end up doing nothing at all during the day, so making a good timetable is key. Try and make it as realistic as possible. Making a timetable that makes you do 10 hours of work a day is not realistic, and is damaging to your motivation. Try and give yourself breaks in between sessions.

2. Give yourself motivational breaks or treats

The worst part about revision is getting yourself motivated. Once you actually start some revision, it isn't too bad, but it's the initial stage that people get stuck on. It's kinda like the pre-nerves before an exam, or before a speech or a performance. Once you actually start the exam or begin the performance, your nerves die down. With revision, the tricky bit is to get yourself started, and once you're in the mood and in the zone, you should be free to go.
Either give yourself a break, or a treat. For example, make yourself do 1 hour of revision, then a 15 minute break. Or give yourself some sweets. Just that extra injection of energy!

3. Put on some music
Some people may say music distracts you from your work, but I find that it keeps you entertained and free from boredom, so it prevents you procrastinating. Just put your music on a nice playlist, and let it run in the background - nothing too loud or disruptive, but just so that it puts you in the mood for work.

4. Make your own revision notes

This is strongly recommended. I always make my revision notes, and they can all be found here. Obviously reading through my revision notes are strong recommended too, haha, but do not make it your only source of  revision. By making your own notes, you are at the same time learning them, finding out what you know and don't know, as well as putting everything you know in order and brainstorming them. I'd say that making your own notes is the single most important part of revision and actually getting to know the content.

5. Highlight and annotate your notes

Making things stand out is key to learning from your notes. Try using different coloured highlighters, and annotating on the margin. Experiment and work out what is best for you. I find that highlighting in different colours make things stand out. 

6. Regular exercise

Scientists say that regular exercise is important for your concentration and I'm not going to argue with them. Rather than just staying in your room and trying to do 10 hours of revision a day, go outside and go for a run or play football with your friends. Although you should be working hard for your exams, you should equally reward yourself with something you like doing, like playing football, or another hobby. Something physical. This will make your mind sharper and allow you to focus on your work when you have to.

7. Drink lots of water/fluids

This also helps with your concentration. An easy way to know whether your hydrated enough is to look at the colour of your urine. It should be a very pale yellow, and not a strong yellow!

8. Try and work in the mornings and relax in the evenings

It depends on the person, but usually people work better in the mornings and less so in the evenings. Depending on what suits you most, make your revision timetable accordingly. If your a morning person, make sure you do majority of your work in the morning and afternoon, and give yourself a treat in the evening! If your an evening person, do the opposite, although I would recommend the former. Getting up early, doing your work, and then relaxing in the evening is a perfect combination of working as well as giving you a treat in the evening. Perfect for motivation.

9. Go through lots of past papers
Getting a rhythm of what the exam board's papers are like is your responsibility. Your school should help you out with this and supply you with plenty of past papers. If they don't give them to you, ask. You should find that although the exam board changes the paper every year, the syllabus does not change, and so the questions they can ask you are very limited. Every year, there are questions that are asked over and over again, or are tweaked very slightly. It is in your interest to learn the answers to those questions. Make sure you look at the markscheme and see where the marks are awarded. Exam technique is key.
You can compile a sheet of questions and answers that you want to memorise. I have done so for Chemistry and Physics and they are extremely useful.

Make sure you go through the past papers after having made your notes and learning them. There is no point simply doing past papers before you have started your revision. This is a waste of a past paper, and if there are a limited number of past papers available, this is the last thing you want to be doing. As you come nearer your exam, you want to be doing those past papers to get a feel for the exam and asking your teacher any questions which you are struggling with!

10. Make flashcards
If there are things you keep forgetting time after time and you just can't remember it, make a flashcard. Hole-punch all your flashcards and attach them all together using a treasury tag (or a piece of string). These things are so small that you can carry them around with you everywhere you go. It's so easy to learn things on a flashcard, because it's a small piece of card. There's only one information you need to take in when you read a single flashcard, rather than a whole page of A4. It's much more satisfying to read, and you will have learnt that annoying fact in no time!

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Green Chemistry

There is a small topic in the AS Chemistry WJEC syllabus about Green Chemistry. In the exam itself, the number of questions and marks dedicated to this part of the syllabus is very small, but nonetheless, it is good to have awareness about Green Chemistry.

I have outlined the main points that you need to know on this topic in a poster, and information beyond this is not examined.

Chemistry: Diamond, Graphite and Iodine

A presentation I created on the topic "Diamond, Graphite and Iodine" aimed at the Chemistry WJEC AS Syllabus.

As well as being relevant to the syllabus, it does wander to the 'fun facts' element as well as going into more depth than required in the exam.

Biology: Example Issue Report

Units 1 and 2 of the Biology Edexcel AS is the written paper, but Unit 3 is what is known as the "Issue Report". This is more a coursework where you develop your own question/topic which you want to research into detail, and you produce a final report on that topic.

Units 1 and 2 are worth 120 UMS each and Unit 3 is worth 60 UMS. Therefore, Units 1 and 2 are 40% each of your total AS, while Unit 3 is 20%.

My Issue Report was on the subject "The Problems associated with Hypertension in the UK". Please use this for example purposes only, as I have previously submitted this exact report to the examination body, and if you copy my work, you may be disqualified for plagiarism.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Physics Questions and Answers

Another handy question and answer sheet compiled from previous years' markschemes. They are not of all questions, but ones I have specifically picked that either come up regularly, or are quite challenging and tricky.

It is very useful if you learn the answers to these questions, although understanding the answers is without a doubt even better.

Chemistry Questions and Answers

A very handy exam-technique revision I do is to compile a series of Questions and Answers from previous years' markschemes.

They contain the 'wordy' questions, that usually trick candidates out, or are found regularly in many papers.

The following sheet contains questions, the number of marks of the question, and bullet-pointed answers - one for a mark.


All the Physics revision material is based on the WJEC syllabus.
Although these notes are specified for WJEC, there are many similarities with other exam boards. Please look at the topics listed below.

The main topics that can be found in my revision notes are the following:

Physics AS: 

  • Base Units of the S.I
  • Dimensional Analysis
  • Density
  • Hooke's Law
    • Two Identical Springs in Parallel
    • Two Identical Springs in Series
  • Elastic Potential Energy
  • Young's Modulus
  • Stress-Strain Graphs
  • Elasticity
    • Definitions
  • Charge
    • Forces between Charges
    • Forces in Nuclei


All the Biology revision material is based on the Edexcel syllabus.
Although these notes are specified for Edexcel, there are many similarities with other exam boards. Please look at the topics listed below.

Currently, only the AS revision material are available, as I dropped Biology at the end of my AS. I dropped the subject as I had 5 subjects at AS Level and I felt that taking them all to A2 would be too time-consuming. Please be assured that these notes gave me a very high A-grade at AS.

The main topics that can be found in my revision notes are the following:

Biology AS: 

  • Carbohydrates
    • Functions
  • Monosaccharides
  • Disaccharides
    • Benedict's Test
  • Polysaccharides
    • Starch
      • Amylase
      • Amylopectin
    • Glycogen
    • Cellulose
  • Lipids
    • Fatty acids
    • Functions of Triglycerides
    • Phospholipids


All the Chemistry revision material is based on the WJEC syllabus.
Although these notes are specified for WJEC, there are many similarities with other exam boards. Please look at the topics listed below.

The main topics that can be found in my revision notes are the following:

Chemistry AS: 

  • Basic Ideas about Atoms
    • Uses of Radiation
    • Ionisation Energy
  • Chemical Calculations
    • Mass Spectrometer
  • Chemical Equilibrium and Acid-Base reactions
    • Reversible reactions
    • Le Chatelier's Principle
    • Haber Process
    • Titration
  • Energetics
    • Enthalpy Changes
    • Hess' Law


All the mathematics revision material is based on the Edexcel syllabus.

The main topics that can be found in my revision notes are the following:

Core 2: 

  • Polynomials
    • Algebra of Polynomials
    • Remainder Theorem
    • Factor Theorem
  • Functions
    • The Modulus Function
  • Circles
  • Sequences and Series
    • Arithmetic Progression
    • Geometric Progression
    • Infinite sum of a geometric progression
  • Radians