With the autumn term now back in full swing, the new A-level workload can seem daunting alongside all the university application preparation as well as your other academic and personal commitments – needless to say, you will be busy the next few months! In this blog I would like to review a few tips for success to ensure that no objective is overlooked, and more importantly, that you do not burn out before your December Oxbridge interviews.
The first and perhaps most important activity are to plan out the remaining weeks of the year; when are applications due? When will you schedule time for interview preparation? Having a comprehensive plan is the best way to ensure nothing sneaks up on you leaving you in a panic. By having a well-drawn roadmap on all your workstreams leading up to end of year, you will feel more confident in what work you need to do, as well as have more free time to rest and relax as you will inevitably manage your time better.
Around this time, you should be close to submitting all applications, having polished off your personal statement and chosen all your top choice universities. With that milestone behind you, you may have some sort of Oxbridge test (BMATs, TSAs etc.) to get ready for (hopefully you are already well underway with preparing and revising!). If you are behind on test preparation, then I would highly recommend getting in touch with Oxbridge Applications who have expert tutors who can quickly get you up to speed on strategies and tactics to succeed at these tests. The good news is that for many of the tests, significant additional knowledge absorption is not needed ; rather, it just lots of practice that will help you manage your time, identify question types, and answer them that much faster and with higher accuracy.
Another common pitfall in the autumn is the personal statement. You may wonder why I bring that up when you have all already finished and submitted yours, but there is a key risk. How many of you included mentions of books that you haven’t quite finished, or perhaps have not even started? With all the other commitments of the autumn, remembering to read or revisit a book mentioned in a personal statement can lead to disaster in the interview when they suddenly ask you what your favourite chapter was! Do set aside time to read the books on your reading list, as well as maintain a regular reading schedule of different news sources and science articles to make sure you are up to date on all that is going on in the world of science!
Last but not least – rest. Coming back from summer holidays in September you were likely well rested and full of energy. The workload of the autumn, combined with all its usual colds and flus, can take a toll on your body and its energy levels. More so than ever, it is important that you eat well and sleep well. Your body needs sleep to recharge and process all the learning you did during the day, committing all those awkward formulae to memory. It is also very important that you maintain your extra-curricular activities, even if tempted to cut them out to make more time for revision. Those activities will also help your brain recharge, reduce stress levels, and generally make any other work you do that more productive. Good luck and next month I will return to visiting some interesting current affairs in the world of science.