A* Grade Challenge

If you haven't read my 'how to suck at getting an A grade' post yet, then let me fill you in on the basics.

The short, painful version:

For the entire first year of 6th form - I wanted A's. (That was short and to-the-point OK).

And well - let's just say, I fell flat on my face. I crashed and burned. I fell - into a well?

Here are the Non-Straight-A offenders that I'm talking about:

English Literature - A (this was a slight miracle, I won't lie. *If you have NO idea what I'm talking about, then read about my English nuclear disaster story here*)
Art - B 
Psychology - B 
Economics - D 

[They're AS-Level grades by the way, not full A-levels - yet! I also did an Extended Project Qualification a year before these exams and got an A, so that's another grade]

And you know what?

It was so DUMB that I studied at the last minute, that I wasted all of my free study sessions talking (yes, The Daily Mail and Kim Kardashian were involved. You have permission to throw something at me) and that I put NO effort into any of my courses until the last few months - and still expected to get the highest grades *cough* delusional.

But am I willing to let this stop me from getting straight A's now?

No no no, no no no, NO. (Are we clear, future Sanam?)


And not just ANY old A*.

A 100% A*.


I am going to crazy land to try and get 100% of the marks in English Literature, Art and Psychology (Economics has now dropped off the face of the earth *aka my studying schedule*. Good riddance).

Sure, I've never done anything like this, or achieved anything that high before. I am literally 'that person that just about scrapes an A'. 

BUT - I'm prepared to do this.

After all, extraordinary results require extraordinary efforts.

So every day, from September until the July final exams, I will be studying like an (awesome) nut job, practicing and working until I hit that 100% mark, trying out every tactic (hey, legal ones only ok. What do you take me for? Ok don't answer that) and strategies I can get my hands on.

And I'll be blogging about the entire thing, every month: what worked, what didn't, what was a freaking waste of my time, and what worked miracles at boosting my grades. 

A what-to-do and what-NEVER-to-do list, every month, which you can use to boost your own grades (woohoo, Team Nerds).

But - I need your help.

I don't want to burn out and give this up after the first few months (which has happened to so many of my goals in the past).

Which is why I'll be blogging about it. It's a way for me to FORCE myself not to quit, because I know that I've made it public now.


So every month, would you fancy giving me a cyber slap when I desperately need it (hey, who doesn't want to do that every once in a while)?

And would you love to know what it takes to become an A* student? And replicate that success?

*cue creepy voice*

Then joinnnnn meeeeee.

I promise it will be fun, and (don't puke) ed-uc-ation-al.

So...are you in?

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It doesn't take superhuman powers or luck to succeed. You just need to DECIDE - and I'll show you the rest.

So, are you IN?

Ps. You'll also get the exclusive 'A* Grade Challenge' Action Plan workbooks (on taking SMALL steps each month to achieve exceptionally high grades), which is only sent to the VIP email crew.

* indicates required

Pop your email in the box, get strapped in for some awesome weekly emails from yours truly about getting your mega success hat ON, and reply back (I promise I'll respond!) with questions, cyber slaps or whatever else is on your mind. 

Got it? Good.

I'll see you over there!

Wait. Did I hear you say "Sanam, heck I want A*s / [insert dream grades] too, HOW CAN I GET MORE OUT OF THIS CHALLENGE?!"

1. Start an A* Grade (or whatever grade you're aiming for) challenge on your blog too and document your progress each month/term.

2. Add this badge of honour to your blog (by copying and pasting the code in the box onto your site) so that new readers can join in if they fancy a trip on the crazy train with us, ha!
A Chic Lifestyle

3. List your blog below so that we can catch up with you and your progress regularly, and new readers can find you:

Ps. If a friend of yours is struggling to get the grades that they want then give 'em a nudge and Tweet/email/Facebook/'whatever social network we're on today' them with a link to this page. 

It might just be the push that they need!

Disclaimer to stop yours truly from getting cyber-beaten-up:
[Before anyone says 'what are you moaning for - these are great grades!' I just want to say that yes, they're good! But I didn't push myself as hard as I could have, and that's the real disappointment, because I could have done better. And also, if you have a B/C/D/etc and you're happy with it then honestly, I think that's brilliant. This post is by no means saying that anything less than an A/A* is insignificant!]

'A* Grade Challenge' posts so far:

Year 1 of A-level courses:

Month 1 (Progress made in November 2013)

Month 2 (Progress made in December 2013)

Month 3 (Progress made in January 2014)

Year 2 of A-level courses:
Starting in September 2014!

My grades after 1 year of doing the challenge:

So here's the grades I pulled out of the envelope on results day on Thursday 14th August 2014:

Psychology - A
Sociology - A
Government & Politics - A
Religious Studies - A
Classical civilisations - B
History - B (however I'm planning to retake one of the History exams to boost this to an A)

In total (so that's qualifications over the last 2/3 years), I have 6 A's, 3 B's and 1 D at AS-level.

Ps. because these are AS grades, and not full A-levels just yet, it's not possible to get an A* at this stage. So the A* grade challenge isn't complete just yet!

This September (2014), I'll be starting my A2 year (the final one!) and after this I'll be receiving my final A-level grades. The goal is to take 6 subjects this year and get 6 A*'s.

Fingers crossed!

(Image courtesy of The Sartorialist)

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  1. I've just finished year 13 and I'm graduating with A*AAB (and still not satisfied - Type A problems, hey?) and a place at King's College London but when I got my AS results I felt exactly the same way. I ended up with AABCC and I was devastated. I'd let a couple of teachers tell me that I wasn't good enough and had let that define me, but it made me a stronger person overall. The same problems affected me at A2 as well but I found that the blogging community really helped me to stay on track with my studies when I was interacting with people who wanted to achieve as much as me and wouldn't let me give up! You can do it!!!
    Good luck with Year 13 - it's exhausting but don't let it get you down!

    xo Amy | British Prep

    1. P.S. I'm totally signing up to this crazy train - I definitely need someone to cyber slap me when I've spent the week gallivanting around the capital on a mission to find the best frozen yogurt place!

    2. Ok, finding the BEST frozen yogurt store is a must, let's face it ;)

      BUT, don't worry, I WILL stop you from doing it with a few cyber slaps (you've been warned).

      And wow, those are amazing grades Amy (want to swap haha?).

      And I get that problem from a few of my teachers too, but oh nooooo, I am CONVINCED that I can get A*s lol, so they won't have much luck convincing me otherwise this year.

      And thank you, I THINK i'm prepared for year 13 ;) x

  2. Can't wait to work together as accountability buddies!

  3. I'm so glad we'll be english lit buddies, so you can give me a real kick up the backside instead of a cyber one ;)

  4. Good luck! I've just finished year 13 and I had a scary moment on results day where I'd missed out on my offer from my firm university. I was terribly guilty of both the procrastination and 'leaving things to the last minute' habits you mentioned. On that day, I could only think how utterly stupid I was and how I wished I were able to reverse time so I could my younger self how important my exams were as my future was resting on this! As it happened, my firm choice decided to accept me anyway, on the day after results day, (after an excruciating wait I tell you!). So I was really lucky in the end, and have vowed to never become as lackadaisical with my study at university.
    But anyway, I hope you achieve your goals!

    1. I completely know what you mean Helena!

      I definitely should have worked from the beginning (could really do with a time machine right now!).

      But there's still a chance for me to get the grades and go to my dream university (although it will take a LOT of work for me to differentiate myself from A-grade-students-since-they-were-like-ONE haha. But I'm actually looking forward to it! A year of personal development? Hey, why not!

    2. Aha, that is a pretty good attitude to take. Will you be applying to university this October then? Or post A level where your application will include an enticing three A*s on the front of it? ^▽^

      I might actually join you in this challenge, but with the goal of getting a first. Haha, I know, a first at Cambridge - that's mad! But, as you said, it will be more of a sense of personal development than primarily trying to get the grades.

    3. Yep, keeping it positive! ;)

      And nope, I've decided to take a gap year and apply in 2014, that way I'll be prepared and can focus on my courses this year with no distractions.

      And heck yeah, why not!

      When I go to uni I'll probably pull another crazy stunt like this and try and get a first star (this madness is awesome and will NEVER end haha).

      And ooooh, you go to Cambridge?

      I was definitely going to apply there first, but seeing as Oxford look at grades and Cambridge the UMS marks, I'll probably have an easier time applying to Oxford on that front.

      Hey, I don't suppose I could email you with a few Q's about applying to Oxbridge some time could I? :) x

    4. Sounds like a good plan! I found that with my January exams early this year (which I'm sorry, I know you lot don't have anymore), again I didn't manage my time wisely as I spent nearly of all the Christmas holidays anxiously waiting for Cambridge's decision. Haha, so it's great you've thought ahead to avoid this problem.

      Hehe, yay! I've submitted my link now and only afterwards did I notice the 'send me an email to let me know you're up for it' so here's my slightly belated letting you know that I'm for it message. I hope that's okay!

      Yeah, well I'll be starting in October. Eeek! I'm so excited! Well, considering you're applying after you get your A level results, it may turn out that you do get all 100%s, in which case you'd have an easier time applying to Cambridge! But good luck wherever you decide to apply. And I would be happy to answer any of your questions. Though, I won't have much specific knowledge on the English Literature application process (as I applied for a different course) but I will do my best to any other questions. x

    5. Yeah, it's a shame that they've scrapped January exams!

      And haha, yep that's fine! I now know ;)

      Good luck with Cambridge! And my main Qs were just about what the application process is like. What's the interviews like, in general (are the interviewers quite easy going or pretty harsh)? And what kind of things did you do for your application, like any extra curriculars? Thanks! :) x

  5. hey i just found your blog and i'm loving it, it motivates me to work so thank you! so i was wondering, where are you on you january and february progress? :)

    1. Hey, that's so brilliant to hear :) I'm glad it's helping :D

      And I've published my January progress already, my February one will be coming soon! :) x

  6. Why did you take 10 AS levels?

    1. Hi anon,

      The 10 AS's were spread out over 3 years.

      So during my GCSE's, I did 1 AS level (the EPQ).

      In my first year of 6th form, I did 4, like normal.

      Then I decided to redo the first year of 6th form to improve my grades. I ended up doing 6 AS's (3 were taught at school and 3 were self-studied), purely because I really liked the extra subjects I had picked and wanted to study them out of interest.

  7. Hello Sanam,

    I want to know how many hours of work you did in a day during your AS levels? Really, is the difficulty from GCSE to A level increased because of the course content or work load?
    Also, did you have time to work or volunteer as well as doing your AS? How useful are revision guides during A levels?
    I'm sorry to bombard you with these questions!
    Thank you Sanam! Xx

    1. Hey anon,

      I probably did about 1 to 2 hours a day for most of the year, and then 4+ when it was closer to the exams.

      The main difference between GCSE and A-levels is that your answers in exams/coursework pieces are supposed to be in more depth and with much evaluation. GCSE's only demanded explanations and descriptions. You're also expected to learn more content for your A-levels (you can check how much you need to learn in the course specifications, which are published by the exam boards for every subject).

      I chose not to work/volunteer until the summer holidays, but quite a lot of my friends did juggle weekend jobs throughout their AS's, so it's really up to personal preference.

      I personally never bothered with revision guides, because they're too brief. I just used my notes to revise from.

      And haha, no worries :) Glad to have helped! x


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