In the past few weeks on March 2022, I have experienced a busy study journey, preparing for my EPQ project, school mock exam, as well as some competitions.
Hello there! My name is Ken and I am a Chinese senior high A Level student in Guangdong Country Garden School. Welcome to Ken's Study Journey website and blog!
Applying to top universities such as Oxford, Cambridge, and Imperial College London is not easy! Students need to do loads of work to cater for their requirements and thresholds.
The AS Level international exam is coming soon, which will be held in May and June (M/J/21), so we need to do a lot of preparations.
Since the pandemic in the city where I live in was escalated and exacerbated, I had to stay at school to study for one or more weeks, but I had a sense of productivity. I have also updated my website after my burden went back to normal.
Having a Lot of Work and Burden
In this month, I have done a lot of work, including my EPQ project submission, the first mock exam at my school, and some computer competitions.
Loads of tasks less than 7 days to deadline have been labelled a red "Close to Deadline" on my Study Planner, so I needed to clear my task list in order.
EPQ (Website) and Research Lessons
The first task I needed to do is my EPQ project as well as my online research lessons.
The research lessons about machine learning had just ended a few weeks ago and we had to make a report about an image recognition project.
EPQ, however, is completely different for me since they have different projects. My EPQ project is not related to machine learning but it is related to making a functional, secure, and liable educational website.
I finally realised that I am more interested in making very deep research on the Internet and computer networking rather than machine learning that rely heavily on further mathematics last year. As a result, I have decided to associate my website to my EPQ project.
The deadline of the first draft of my EPQ project, including my Activity Log, Proposal Form and Dissertation is on 11 March while the deadline of the report of the machine learning lesson is on 18 March. So, I had to finish my EPQ project earlier.
Another thing I have done is the IELTS exam. I took the exam in the middle of this month with a Band 7.0 score which is part of my one final goal "IELTS Band 7.0 (6.5 per component)".
Two weeks before the exam, I have made some preparations, including IELTS reading computer mock exams which took 1 hour each.
Surprisigly, my speaking score has been improved significantly from 5.5 last year to 6.5 at the start of this year. Thanks for the opportunities from my school's Oxbridge College for practising my English skills.
I still have to improve my writing score to achieve "6.5 per component" in the later few months as well as my "Band 7.5 (7.0 per component)" final goal next year.
School Mock Exam
There was also a mock exam at my school to prepare for the next international exam.
I have reviewed the syllabuses, textbooks and my notebooks as well as doing a lot of past papers.
In the CAIE international courses, the exam papers are made according to the syllabuses instead of textbooks.
So, instead of reviewing everything on the textbook, we usually revise using the syllabuses to check the missing knowledge.
You can download the syllabus by going to Cambridge International website using the Syllabus Code (e.g. 9709). For example, www.cambridgeinternational.org/9709
If you have limited reading skills that you cannot read everything on the textbook in a short time, you can review the syllabus to find your missing knowledge points. Then see the textbook for the full knowledge.
I also have used my timer that I have recently discovered from other schoolmates in the library in order to be concentrated by setting time limits. I have then programmed it on my computer.
Normally, the timer is used on my old phones acting as a desk clock which can be directly controlled with my PC at my home.
This was then adopted as my study strategy released in this month since it can help me to concentrate on my study tasks and realise the time goes off very quickly.
We also used Frank's C(A)IE Workshop, a website that allows students download CAIE past papers more easily with a Chinese interface, to download and do some CAIE past papers and check their mark schemes.
I also believed that quality is more important than quantity according to my own test results. We do not need to do a lot of past papers since some tests usually ask questions never appeared before. Just fully review the syllabuses, textbooks and notebooks before doing past papers.
All study tips displayed on my website are fully tested by myself and/or based on my own experiences, some of which may contradict to other's opinions, including some research results.
Unfortunately, the website has a frequency limit, which prevents reselling past papers and DDoS attack, of 6 times per minute (12 times per minute for schools) which is so annoying since all devices at our school are under the same public IP address, so we had to wait for a minute to get some past paper. Note that the English text in the image has been translated by myself.
Some other websites, like Google, YouTube and Cloudflare, also have frequency limits to prevent DDoS attack and automated query by spam robots. They require users to tick the Google reCAPTCHA (I'm Not a Robot) checkbox if there are too many requests or unusual traffic under the same IP address as shown below.
Cloudflare is the CDN provider that can hide the IP addresses of original servers. Similarly, it will not request the original server if there are too many requests under the same IP address unless the user completes the reCAPTCHA verification. Hence, the original server can be protected from DDoS attack.
Due to this limitation, I usually use a special method "pre-load" to work around it, downloading the mark schemes in advance when finishing a past paper.
I also pre-load up to 5 articles on my phone's Safari browser at home WiFi before I am going to read some academic articles on Imperial College London News in public transportations since the overseas bandwidth can be limited.
Taking Exercise while Studying
Taking Exercise at Weekends
In the past few weeks, my parents have introduced a small mountain at the edge of my residential area, on which we only need about an hour to climb up and down.
So, as well as taking exercise at home using my home's gym with table tennis and virtual bicycles, I have started to go to the mountain with my family every Sunday morning.
I also use my iPhone 13 Pro to take some macro photos of some flowers and leaves on the mountain, enjoying a new feature on my new phone.
Taking Exercise at School
We usually need to run on the track for several laps on a daily basis, which helps me to boost my productivity during self-study times.
During the studying process at school, I also take exercise actively at my school gym (usually between 12:00 and 12:20 after lunch) using its virtual bicycles and/or running machines. I usually set an award for myself of a sport drink after exercising to regain energy. This can be bought from my school's automated food vendoring machine.
I have also secretly set a goal while taking a bicycle. My maximum heart rate should be greater than or equal to 170 BPM (beats/minute).
Decorations at Home and School Apartment
At the start of this month, I also have done the bedroom decorations at not only my home bedroom but also my school apartment. You can click the link to learn more.
This activity was derived by the apartment bedroom decoration competition in our Oxbridge College. I have also discovered the bedroom decorations among the vlogs by university students.
I have bought several materials such as strings of lights, transparent tapes, clamps, hooks and boards as well as printing photos and drawing some notice cards on the paper.
I have also designed and drawn some reminder cards to reminder myself for some great habits.
Later on, I have added a notice stickers (sticky notes) area in the middle where I can stick some sticky notes.
Since English becomes the first language when we study or live at our school's Oxbridge College, we can speak with each other in English as much as possible and improve the IELTS scores quickly.
Unlike standard dormitories, we can make some decorations at our apartment since they are similar as the houses among universities and colleges.
New Study Tools and Habits
At the end of the month, I have released my new study tools and habits, such as Ken's Study Timer, bedroom decorations, final goals, subject folders, items checklist. This is similar to an Apple Event releasing new products. Click the links to learn more.
Note that Ken's Study Timer and Desk Clock (public version) is under alpha testing process, which will be released in a few weeks.
Utilising Free Time
In my free time, I usually remember English words as well as reading some articles. I also watch some university vlogs on YouTube in the first and last 45 minutes during the day to relax. Learn More
These are the introductions of my new study tips and the story of my busy study journey on March 2022. I hope you can study hard, strive and go to your dream university!
Ken's Study Journey strives to provide high-quality articles about my tips and tutorials to study productively, together with some knowledge explanations. If you need help, I am here for you.
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