Welcome to the first of many weekly posts which will bring us from this moment right now,  from where you are sitting reading this, right up to the desk where you will be taking your IGCSE or A level exams in summer.  The aim of these posts is to support you on your journey along this temporal path from here to there.  It is to be expected that there will be good stretches of the path where everything is going well in your life and where you are keeping up with your studies and are confident that you will achieve what it is you would like to achieve with your studies and the exams at the end of the year.

It is also perfectly normal that you may find yourself off-track as a result of issues outside school life or that simply you haven´t been as consistent with your studies as you may have been.

Albert Einstein has a quote which I will be reminding you of again and again during our journey to the end of the line which will be your exam desk with your number on it in the study hall.  Einstein said that ´You never fail until you stop trying´ .  You may have remembered it from somewhere else and I will be reminding you of it again and again.

We are at the beginning of November. Maybe June seems a long way off and in many ways it is.  And in many ways it is just around the corner.  Time has the funny trick of passing by in different disguises.  A science lesson may go on for eternity while a mid-term break may pass by in a few seconds. Time´s disguises trick us all.

In this post I want you to think about how you are going to take charge of the time you have between now and June and not get caught out by the IGCSE and A level exams suddenly creeping up and catching you off guard.  If you want to avoid the stress that is felt by many students as the exam season approaches the trick is to be ready for it way before it happens.  Because it will happen.

December will come and with it the holidays and distractions that are a natural part of the annual cycle.  You will need to manage your time. Don´t let it run away from you.  To sit back and to think how you will remain on top of your studies although many other things are going on in your life.  You need to design a roadmap to plan for that time, your time,  that remains so that you are the person in control of the journey and not just a passenger waiting around.

Even in January just back from the holidays summer may well seem a long time off.  January and February are the months where final exam grades are determined.  They seem like almost unimportant months, like Tuesdays might during the weekly cycle, but that´s the way time and often life works. Can you remember what you were doing last Tuesday? This is the time of year where those who stick to their plans will be those less stressed in April, May and June. Stress often comes about because we feel that we have lost control of events around us.

In March and April there is no longer any pretending that there is still lots of time to get your act together.  Some students thrive under this stress and can still perform quite well.  These students really think that they can´t operate without the weight of the stress hanging over the heads like the sword of Damocles. And this may well be the case for you but it is a risky strategy and most people don´t enjoy the stress it involves.

May arrives and we are on our own.  All on our own, with our friends and family around us of course giving us support but you know how much effort you really have put in towards reaching where you want to be. Soon we will take our place at a desk which will determine the shape of the next few years of our lives.  Although you are reading this now in a comfortable seat in November, this desk is being prepared for you now, maybe being ordered in the office.  Maybe you could ask the IGCSE or A level exams officer to have a look and maybe try it out for size.

Which brings us all to journey’s end in June.  Throughout these last 7 or 8 months a lot has happened in your lives but you are here now.  At this point you won´t think of those eternal Geography lessons but how quickly the year has passed and how if you were in November again you may chose to do things differently.

In a way your wish has been granted and you have been given another chance to shape the year which is unravelling before you.  Plan each stage, be in control of the time as it passes, get your work and revision done before deadlines, have fun on your holidays, get outdoors and do lots of sports, go out with your family and friends but throughout it all remember that you are the one ultimately who will shape your destiny and the time for that shaping begins now. Right now.

Ok, a bit of a daunting post perhaps but I it is worth thinking about right from the start that if you have a goal which you want to realise you need to take yourself seriously.  Organisation is a skill which you have to learn.  In University there will be no one to remind you of how to organise your time or your studies so you need to start thinking about this now. I know because I wasn´t very organised and this caused a lot of my time to be wasted which can end up causing more stress than we need.

Over the coming weeks and months and right up until summer 2018 I and the other Phoenix teachers will be writing regular posts aimed with providing support for you, particularly IGCSE and A-level students in mind and to this end we would really appreciate your collaboration.

If there is any particular topic you feel would be useful to cover please mention it in the comment box below.  Our journey starts off from here, now.

I look forward to seeing you again next week,

Alex Mitchell

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