Year 14 – Martin

17 Dec 2014

11 January

So the dreaded first week back after Christmas was a bit of a drag. Final preparation for the forthcoming mock exams consumed the week. Then on top of that I got a rejection letter from the Oxford College I applied to, which was quite a disappointment considering all the work I put in.

Fortunately though I have been invited to sit an entrance exam in UCL on Wednesday, so I’m missing some of my exams this week. So I’ll be flying out really early in the morning to get to London in time.

I enjoyed meeting up with all my friends after the Christmas break and having an excuse to get out of revision.

Coming back to school was a bit different as our long-time headmaster retired before Christmas and a new one has just been installed in the post. However first impressions are very good based on when he took our sixth form assembly.


21 December

This was a very relaxed week in school as we began to wind down into the Christmas holidays. Very little work was done in class, except for Maths which never stops. In French we watched a film called La Haine which deals with the effects of poverty and unemployment in the Parisian suburbs which ties in well with the context area for A2.

In German we had a leaving party for the German assistant on Wednesday and she gave us traditional German baked goods which her Grandmother had sent over. On Wednesday we also had a non- uniform day to raise money for charity.

On Tuesday all the Upper- Sixths dressed up in Christmas themed clothes. I wore a novelty Christmas jumper. Then on Friday we had the annual Christmas Carol Service in a local church which I really enjoyed.

On Thursday afternoon we had our House Table Quiz. My table came third overall, and my house won!

Fortunately I’ve been given very little homework for over the Christmas break so I have plenty of time to relax. However mock exams are looming in January.


14 December

This week I only spent Monday and Tuesday in school. I had my French oral exam which was conducted by the French language assistant in my school. I think that went OK. Then early on Wednesday morning I flew from Belfast City to Heathrow all by myself to get to Oxford for my interview. What an experience! I really loved everything about it. I had applied for St. John’s College, and what surprised me was how big it was. It’s a university campus in its own right. The buildings were beautiful, the people were really friendly and the food was great. Plus, everything was free, apart from the flights.

My first interview was for German on Thurs and it consisted of discussing a poem which I only received 30 mins beforehand, then we talked about my personal statement and finally held a short conversation in German. I found the interview very challenging and it’s difficult to say how it went.

My French interview was on Friday and took a similar format to the German interview. However, I found this interview much more enjoyable.

Fortunately there were Student helpers around at all times to show you to the interview room and who organised entertainment in the evenings. I flew home on Sat evening after receiving notice that I could leave on Sat morning. On the whole I found it a very beneficial experience and would encourage others to apply for the same route.


7 December

So I’ve had quite a stressful week with all the interview preparation I’ve been doing for this coming week. I’ve been reading a lot recently, mostly in German but also some in English about the famous French writer Albert Camus. However I still have plenty of personal research to be getting on with.

On Thursday we had our school Christmas Dinner for which we we’re let out of class early due to the huge queues in the canteen. Yet still there were lots of people running to canteen, who said Upper Sixths had to be responsible? …

I’ve been getting on really well with the German assistant lately as we’ve had good chats in German about what’s going on in Germany at the minute, her impressions of Northern Ireland and even our music tastes.

This week I have to look forward to my French oral exam which is conducted by the French language assistant. However, I haven’t really had anytime to revise with my university interview coming up. This week I’ve also found some current French and German music that I like which is helping with vocabulary learning from artists like Indila and Andreas Bourani.


30 November

 So on Friday I received an invitation to interview from St. John’s College Oxford to read French and German which is very exciting. However Oxford don’t give you must notice (i.e 13 days) so the flights to London were quite expensive. This said I was very delighted when the email came through as I had been waiting anxiously in anticipation of confirmation. This means that I have a lot of work to put in before I go to interview as I want to make sure I have a sound understanding of the texts and writers mentioned on my personal statement. Fortunately a friend of mine has also received an invitation to interview so we will be there at the same time, which is great because at least I’ll know one person.

 I’m also in the process to trying to apply to Trinity College Dublin through the CAO (Irish equivalent of UCAS). This is a little stressful as I’m finding the application process quite complicated and convoluted. Hopefully, I’ll be applying to study Law with French/ German. I was also at the talk this week about European universities especially in the Netherlands. This was really interesting due to the quality and relative cheapness of the universities.

23 November

 This week I visited a local grammar school for a mock interview with the headmaster for French and German. I found this experience very helpful as it forced me to clarify my thoughts on some of the books I’ve recently read and why I want to continue my studies to university level. In preparation I read a play called Les Justes by Albert Camus which I found really interesting as it raised some thought provoking philosophical questions. As I’m reading more and more in French it is starting to become easier so I can focus more on the point the writer is to convey rather than translating individual words.

In German conversation class this week we started the new topic of equality. We discussed the inequalities present in our society and the assistant was able to provide me with an insight into the inequalities present in German society and the differences she has perceived between Northern Ireland and Germany.

In Maths this week we finished our work on the first pure paper C3. The material in Maths has definitely become more challenging as the year has progressed and marks a big difference from last year. However I am enjoying the challenge.

16 November 

This week was quite relaxed for me and not a lot happened. However the fire alarm went off a few times this week which meant over a thousand kids on a mucky pitch in the rain, safe to say that was not fun! I also got to miss some classes for our Remembrance Day service.

In French conversation class this week we continued our topic work on poverty. So we discussed the causes and consequences of poverty in France, especially in Paris which has a large homeless population. I find these conversations thought- provoking and on the whole very beneficial to my speaking abilities.

This week I was also on prefect duty at the Year 8 Parents Open evening. Seated at the front door a friend and I handed out leaflets and directed parents to their child’s’ teachers. As this was many parents first time at an open evening I was kept busy the whole two hours. However I actually really enjoy helping out in this way.

I have also been preparing for my mock uni interview which is coming up this week. This has involved lots of reading and looking over your personal statement in order to think of potential questions.


9 November

This week I sat my Oxford Modern Languages Admissions test which was very hard, naturally. But I believe I managed well, I worked very hard for it and now I’ve just got to wait to see if I’m offered an interview or not. I also had to finish writing and hand in some essays which I then sent to Oxford. They were looking for marked and corrected essays in English, French and German. I’m very proud of the work completed but I’ll have to wait and see if I’m successful.

This week I also sat the Senior U.K Maths Challenge. I was selected as one of the top 20 in my year in Maths, so I was of course very pleased with that. However, the test was very hard and my track record with Maths Challenges isn’t great. So again, I’ll just have to wait and see if I’m awarded any certificate.

The presentation I was asked to give by the German assistant in school also went well, however some of her follow up questions were very challenging. Overall a very challenging week for me.


2 November

So I’ve been off all this week so not much to report. However my university admissions test is on Wednesday of this week so I have been revising for that. As I’m taking a language test it will consist of 2 papers (one French and one German) and will involve a short grammar exercise and then a translation exercise into and out of English. So for this I’ve been revising lots of grammar, which can get very complicated, and some vocabulary. I will tell you next week how that goes.

I’ve also had plenty of Maths homework to get on with over the break; as usual the fun never stops!   This can get stressful sometimes but it’s important to keep a level head. For German conversation class I’ve also been set a presentation on traffic which links in to our study of the environment. I’m finding this very interesting and useful. It’s a nice break to be able to cut and stick and draw in your A-Level year.

26 October

I received my first UCAS offer this week!!!! There was lots of suspense when the email came through and I logged on and checked UCAS track to see Queens University had given me an offer for Law with French. I can now sleep easy knowing that even if all the others fall through I at least have this one offer to work for. Hopefully, I’ll hear some news from the others unis soon. My tracking tests went well as I got A*s in German and Maths, and a high A in French. It’s encouraging to see I’m progressing well through this year’s course. On Thursday morning I got out of a triple study period to help out with the Prize Day rehearsals at a local church. I had to lead all the prize winners through the town to get to the church and home again. As Prize Day was held on Friday I got the day off, which was a welcome relief of course. Furthermore, I am off all this week for half term. However I have plenty to keep me busy as I have a university test for languages coming up in November so I will need to revise for that. Otherwise, it’ll be a quiet week off school for me.


19 October

 Due to a pen pal scheme set up by my German teacher, a girl in my class was able to organise a visit from a girl in the German equivalent of upper sixth. She joined my French and German classes, and proved very helpful in German conversation class. She turned out to be a very lovely, chatting girl with no problems conversing in English. I was interested to talk to her about the differences in schools between Germany and Northern Ireland. I was surprised to hear that in Germany you continue with the subjects you start in first year all the way to upper sixth, choosing only to specialise in a few subjects. This is very different to our A-Levels system here.

This past week I also received conformation emails from all my prospective universities. This has definitely given me a push to work harder with a clearer goal in mind. Now roll on the wait for offers!

We’re also starting into Tracking Tests in all subjects now. My Maths test went very well and I hope the French one did as well. I await Monday morning for my German test! All in all I seem to be coping with the work load so far. So another positive week!


12 October

I found this past week to be the most uneventful one so far, so I don’t have a lot to report. I had a Maths test on Friday on everything we had covered so far this school year. This was definitely a challenge but I think I coped well. I also came top of my class in a German test this week on the passive tense! Overall, school life seems to be settling into the usual weekly routine.

In French this week I’ve enjoyed studying the film “Jean de Florette”. We have had lively debates in class on the morality of different characters and the relationships they have with each other. I have never studied film before but I am definitely enjoying it so far. In German we have studying the topic of the environment recently, which involves learning a lot of specific vocabulary, which I enjoy. I attended Scripture Union this week which is on during Thursday’s lunch and have joined a small group.

This week my friend is bringing her German pen pal into school on Monday and Tuesday. She will be joining my French and German classes, which I am excited about. I hope to get the opportunity to practice my German with her and find out a bit more of life in Germany.


28 September

So, where to begin! This has been an extremely packed week for me. Having survived many long nights trying to concoct the perfect personal statement I feel I have earned a relaxing weekend. The constant process of redrafting and scrapping has finally come to end. On Thursday of this week I made the big step of sending off my UCAS application online. Yes, this seems to you very early, and I definitely agree but the school has imposed an early deadline as I am applying for Oxford University. Now that I have finally made my choices I can sit back and relax for a minute until I have to start worrying for interviews, tests, offers etc.

On a lighter note, on Friday I helped out at a Modern language quiz for junior pupils to mark the European Day of modern languages. Turns out dealing with a hundred rowdy first and second years wasn’t nearly as easy as my teacher made it sound. Otherwise, this week classes haven’t been too stressful, I’ve been doing well in class tests, so overall a successful start to Upper Sixth.

21 September

So finally this week I have finished the first draft of my personal statement, which was a big achievement, only to have my Careers teacher tell me how bad it is. Oh well! I also had my first tracking test this week in maths which went well. These short tests are given a couple of times a year and are used to track your academic progress throughout the year.

I had my first taste of prefect duty this week, which proved interesting as not everyone respects the badge, which isn’t very surprising. It does feel weird to be put in a position of authority within school. On the upside I did get to go the front of the queue in the canteen, which saved twenty minutes of queuing so I can’t complain.

In class this week I’ve had my first experience of German literature which can be very difficult. Hopefully as the year goes on I’ll understand the text a bit better. I also had a period with the French assistant this week, a lovely lady, I really enjoy the opportunity to speak French with a native and just talk about school and what interests me.

Happy days, I haven’t had very much homework this week. Hopefully, it’ll continue this way but I seriously doubt it!

14 September

 Another busy week in sixth form. I’ve had a very careers oriented week. On Tuesday my school had a careers fair, bringing in representatives from universities and employers from across the U.K and Ireland. There were lots of stalls set up to talk to them and various talks went on throughout the day. For example, I went to a talk on personal statements which proved very useful and helped guide me through the process of applying through UCAS and highlighted important things to talk about on a personal statement.

On Thursday, a representative from Edinburgh Napier University came to school to help prepare us for studying at university. We learned about things such as note taking and referencing. They really helped ease my fears with regard to future study. We even got a mock lecture on branding to help get us used to the different style of teaching and learning.

Our year went to the Queens University, Belfast open day on Friday; this was definitely an eye opener. I was able to go to talks on the subjects that interest me. I also explored the buildings and got a tour of the accommodation halls available. I’m definitely looking forward to uni life now!

7 September

Wow what a busy week at school. On Monday we spent most of the day in form class to sort some details out but since then it’s like I’ve never been off. I’ve got to know some of my new teachers and reacquainted myself with the familiar ones.

My subject classes have started out quite well, but the amount of maths homework is definitely a challenge. In German I’ve got to meet our new language assistant for the year from Germany and she seems very nice.

Careers class scared me a bit this week; I’m starting to feel the Personal Statement pressure from my teacher. Oh dear!