Just general tips for school life

– Bring your chargers everywhere. Phone, laptop, kindle, iPad charger, don’t let a dead battery be an excuse to put a bumper on productivity.

– Print it out if you may need it, apologise to the environment. Use electronic pdfs when you can but I’ve always preferred the hardcopy

– Don’t hate your teachers, make friends with them. You’ll find that you enjoy your classes more often and is a bridge to better grades

– Buy nice stationary to motivate you and uplift your mood. Treat your self!

– Don’t carry things around, use a backpack, it’s better for your back. Also, clean your backpack every week of debris

– Carry only what you need, and make sure it’s less than 10% of your body weight.

– Use a planner. Invest in a nice one and make sure you use it! Planning your time is so important if you want to succeed!

– Be on time, or even better early for everything

– Take notes by hand and use thin blue pens (0.5)

– Exercise twice a week for at least 1/2 an hour

– Drink water and prioritise your health

– Set realistic goals for yourself and strive to achieve them

 – Rewrite your notes onto flashcards, quizlet decks, blogs and continue to add information along the way.

– Teach people content – my favourite and by far most rewarding way to study

I’ve finished my GCSEs and received 7A*s, 2As and a B (which was 1 mark off an A). I’m very happy to have finished with stellar grades beyond my wildest expectations and I’m glad that I used my knowlage to help others and hopefully inspire others too. I’m leaving this blog open for future use but I won’t update more GCSE notes, and I might revamp the blog site to upload my A level notes. You can still find me on saturnine days, my personal blog.


Till then, Love S.D xx


Things I was never taught at GCSE.

So my GCSEs finished a couple weeks back, and now I’m happily binging TV shows and writing. My exams generally went alright, but I decided to make this post to share my tips and hints. These are quite general tips, so I hope they can apply for A level too! I suggest that you too, write down everything you did this year, to reflect on what you could do better next year. My italicised sentences is my future improvements.

Firstly, get on top with my lingo –

Exam series – The year the exam paper came from. Eg. for IGCSE Edexcel Biology 2016, there are 6 exam papers,  3 x Paper 1, which is Double science. 3 x Paper 2, which is Triple Science. One set (paper 1 and paper 2), was taken in January, and the other two sets where taken as regional and non regional papers, which was taken in June. Understand?

Syllabus/spec points – Everybody’s is different, according to the exam board. But you’ll notice at the top of my blog posts, sciences especially there are little numbers next to it, e.g 2.63 – describe the structure of the heart. One spec point essentially, is a bullet point that you need to know, in the syllabus which is a checklist of things you need to have revised, come exam time.

Grade boundaries  – the percentage at which a grade is awarded. Eg, 80% for an A*, 70% for an A and so on. It changes every year, dependent on the difficulty of the test paper and it’s takers.

  • Practise papers, past papers, and self-testing are best ways to revise. I know you get told this a lot, but it’s the only way to know you’ve truly revised and know the topic inside out. Make a list of past paper questions on a sheet like so; this was for biology.

Screen Shot 2017-06-28 at 9.35.52 AM

 – I would add a date at the side to see if you were improving/ if the exam that year was just more difficult. Instead of grade/percentage, put raw score. The numbers displayed there are my raw scores, not my percentage! 

– Also, print the thing out and stick it on your wall so you can track it better. 

I find that making a list incentivises you to actually do the past paper, also you can keep track of what you’ve done and haven’t done. I wasn’t meticulous with recording, BUT I do promise you that I did do the entire past paper vault.

  • When doing essay based exams, like English or History, work backwards. Work from 2017 (or whatever year you’re reading this from) backwards to 2012,  eg. 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012 exam series. Unlike sciences where you should work from 2012 to 2017 as the papers get more difficult, essay based exams tend to stay the same in terms of grade boundaries and difficulty. The only thing that changes is the content. You’ll notice that the content tends to spin on a carousel, and if you work backwards, you are more likely to get the question content on a practise paper on your actual exam. This worked for all of my English exams!
  • Do your notes as you go along. I started doing this only in year 11, and I wish I had started earlier. Although in the short term you may not want to study after a tiring day of school, in the long term it really helps.

Short term pain, long term gain.

You’ll find, like I did, that I had far less to do during exam season, and could really focus on past papers. There are different ways to do ‘notes’, or more accurately collate information. Here is what I did:

  •  Flash cardsOn paper : Key information for physics and chemistry (equations). On screen (quizlet) : Every subject’s important info that I need to remember
  •  Index cards. Long mark answers with exam bullet points and key English quotes for my books, Of Mice and Men, as well as An Inspector Calls. ( Like flash cards but with way more info that I need to know in detail)
  •  NotesSelf explanatory. I take regular class notes and then at night copy it with the syllabus statements on top, with it’s content, and then add more detail with the text book or youtube videos. Write the entire spec point out, not just the numbers – that way you make sure you learn only the bare minimum, or misinterpreting it. Keep your notes neat and legible.
  • BlogIf I have time I’ll copy the information onto saturnine notes. Re writing notes is a good way to revise, but VERY ineffective.
  •  Mind maps. Used to collate huge amounts of info for English texts (here and here). Also for brain dumps when I panic before exams – brain dumps are when I put absolutely everything I know onto a piece of paper, and another way of testing yourself on huge amounts of knowlage.
  • Summary foldableI use these for large chunks of vocabulary or equations I need to know in sciences and languages, I put them in my bullet journal so I can always be revising.

I wish I spent less time making my notes look pretty and more time making them functional. Summary foldables and index cards are what will be my main source of notes next year. 

  • When doing notes according to spec points, use mark scheme answers. If you want to learn the bare minimum, this is how you do it.  Edexcel Biology IGCSE A*-G, Potometer practical – note question C’s answer has 8 possible bullet points. If you could memorise 4 out of the 8, you’d get full marks for that question.

Screen Shot 2017-06-28 at 10.16.38 AM.png

I would look up all GCSE recurring questions like these (especially for practicals) and memorise the mark scheme bullet points, and use them for my notes instead of the bulky, long explanations from text books and revision guides. 

  • Youtube revision videos are a great source of revision! Especially for auditory learners. Here are ALL the ones I used (And wouldn’t have passed without them). If you found them helpful, say I sent you! They aren’t all GCSE channels, some have A level content too.


Know when to trust them and when not to. Be careful as they give you the overview, but according to different exam boards you may get less or more detail than you need.

  • Know your specification inside and out. That way, you know what paper has what content, and you’re not the idiot who revised the wrong content for the paper. There is a spec for every subject, and make sure you know it.

I hope this has helped you in some way, and that my babbling has made sense. I wish you the very best of luck with your GCSEs / A levels and your results! I won’t be posting anymore GCSE notes, apologies, but I might be doing A level notes in the future if I have time

– S.N x

(PS – Check out my personal blog where I will be uploading twice a week!)



Geography Topic 8 : A Wasteful World

4.1 types of waste and it’s problem

a. the differences in waste production between low-income countries (LICs) and high income countries (HICs)

  • HICs typically produce 5 times the amount of waste LICs produce

LICs on average produce 100-200 kg/year/person

HICs on average produce 400-800 kg/year/person

  • Top HIC waste producing countries (/kg/year/person)
  1. Ireland – 800
  2. Norway 780
  3. USA – 760
  4. Denmark – 725
  5. (10) UK – 600
  • Top LIC waste producing countries (/kg/year/person)
  1. Laos – 237
  2. Vietnam – 182
  3. Philippines – 149
  4. Thailand – 73

b. greater wealth is a major contributor to increasing waste, especially in HICs

Consumer society – As countries become more wealthy, they have greater demand for consumer products. They buy more items and replace them more frequently

Throw away society  – Tendency to buy things and dispose of them

Why is waste in LICs less?

  • Consumer purchases are limited due to low income. People can’t afford to buy new products therefore practical up cycling is commonly practised
  • Purchases in LICs have very little packaging – and often biodegradable
  • Literacy rates in LICs are very low therefore not many read and throw away newspapers – 84% of the world’s paper consumption is by HICs

Why is waste in HICs high?

  • Wealthy countries have a greater demand for consumer products due to more disposable income (eg. GDP / capita USA : $40K, GDP / capita Uganda : 294)
  • Imported goods have more packaging (UK: 10.5 mil tonnes of waste in 2007 from packaging)

c. Types of domestic waste produced in HICs

  • Green waste  – waste broken down by living organisms originating form plant or animals
  • Non biodegradable waste – waste that can’t be broken down by living organisms
  • Industrial waste – Waste produced by industrial activity eg. of factories and mines
  • Domestic waste  – waste consisting of everyday items, eg. food, yard, containers and product packaging. Includes residential and commercial waste
  • E waste – Discarded electronic devices. An estimated 15 mil phones are thrown away annually in the UK, the UN estimates that 50 mil tones of E waste is produced annually.

Packaging : Materials used for the containment, protection and handling

  • The UK produced 10.5 mil tonnes of packaging waste in 2007. 70% were due to food and drink
  • Mixed material packaging presents some problems as multiple materials makes a package hard to dispose of

4.2 – recycling and disposal of waste

a. how waste is recycled at a local scale and how recycled material is used

Case Study : Bracknell Forest Council

  • Works with Reading + Workingham council for the disposal of waste

2 main house hold waste recycling centres

– Small Mead, Island Road, Reading

– Longshot lanes, Bracknell

  • 150 recycle sites and 3 authority centres located at convenient places such as supermarket
  • Also a website with clear directions

House collections

  • Alternate waste collection for recycling and compost.
  • On the other week general waste is collected and delivered to it’s respective recycling area

Paper and Cardboard

  1. Paper and cardboard collected from houses
  2. Taken to Severnside recycling facility
  3. Material sorted from pure and contaminated (eg. ink is a contaminant)
  4. Paper is pulped, baled and sent to St. Regis paper mill, Kent
  5. Pulp rolled and layered to make reels of paper
  6. Paper turned into packaging material


  1. Recycled at Baylis recycling plant near Keynsham, Bristol
  2. Bottles sorted by polymer type and colour
  3. Melted and formed into new shape
  4. Wide range of products created


  1. Sorted into 3 different colours at recycling point
  2. Mixed glass used by aggregate industry
  3. Collected for reprocessing by Berryman’s from Dagenham
  4. Glass collected into large roads from different places to be reprocessed in Yorkshire
  5.  Glass washed and crushed to make a cullet
  6. Cullet washed with new materials eg. limestone
  7. During heating process, recycled glass is used to save energy so they don’t have to heat it to such high temperatures



  1. Sent to Biffa Waste Management Facility, South Hampton
  2. Transferred into a reprocessing facility, Leister
  3. Separation from aluminium and steel.

As steel is magnetic, it’s attracted by a magnet and processed by European Metals Recycling LTD, then sent to a furnace to where they are mixed with molten iron. Poured into a mould to make large slabs and rolled into coils to be used for bikes and cars.

Aluminium on the other hand is shredded to the size of a 10p, shreds are passed through a magnetic drum to remove the last of steel and molten aluminium is pumped into moulds, chilled until solidification and to be used in the making of new cars

b. the ways in which HICs dispose of different types of waste


Germany produces 60 mil tonnes / year

1.Landfill – 160 sites

  • Involves putting waste in the ground and covering it with soil or rock
  • Germany in the 1970s had 50,000 sites

Problems with landfill

  • Escaping liquids and gases from rotting waste pollute land
  • Suitable landfill sites are running out. They must have correct geological conditions eg. not nearby water supply and crops must not be affected by seepage
  • Landfill land is now more expensive

2. Exporting

  • Germany exports 1.8 mil tonnes of non-hazardous waste a year to countries such as China or Spain. They see it as an opportunity to earn money
  • Germany exports their nuclear waste to France and the UK

3. Incineration

  • Germany has 68 incinerators, also a source of energy
  •  Darmstadt deals with 212,000 tonnes of waste / year
  • Plans to build 100 more incinerators
  • One problem is they still may emit emissions

4. Recycling

  • Germany has very strict laws concerning recycling
  • Germany has the capacity to recycle less than a third of it’s waste
  • The Green Dot Scheme operates in 20 countries and has been successful in declining waste to 1 mil tonnes/year 
  • Unfortunately the scheme is expensive – $2.5 bn/year
  • 67% of waste is recycled and 32% is burnt


4.3 – sources and uses of energy

a. energy resources can be classified as renewable and non renewable. Some renewable sources of energy are easier to develop than others

Non renewable energy

Type of fuel Origin Advantage Disadvantage
Coal Fossilised plants, found in seams / close to the surface of the Earth or mined underground

Must be burnt to produce energy


Easy to convert  into energy

Coal supplies should last for 250 years

Gives off greenhouse gasses
Oil Fossilised animals

Lakes of oil found under the land / sea

Pipes put down through the ground, liquid pumped to provide energy


Easy to convert

Oil supplies should last for 50 years

Gives off greenhouse gasses
Natural gas Methane gases trapped under seams of rock

Pipes put down through the ground


Easy to convert

Cleaner than oil/coal

Gas supplies should last for 70 more years

Gives off greenhouse gases
Nuclear (uranium) Produced from uranium, obtained from mining

Produced when atoms are split in nuclear reactors

Small amount of uranium gives off a lot of energy

Raw materials will last a long time

Doesn’t produce greenhouse gases

Nuclear reactors are expensive to build

Nuclear waste is expensive to store, radioactive and toxic

Leaks are fatal

Biomass Decaying plant / animal matter that provides energy. Cheap

Readily available


Gives off greenhouse gases

Large area of land takes up space to be used for food

Renewable energy


Renewable energy Process Advantages Disadvantages
Geothermal Ground source heat pumps heat from the ground into the house

These supply radiators / warmth systems

Cuts energy costs by 70%

£12000 to install

Infinite resource

Doesn’t give off greenhouse gases

Must be enough space

Expensive to build

Water may contain corrosive materials which could damage the pipes over time

Solar energy Cells produce electricity from the sun

Panels face the un, the fluid heats in the panels which produces hot water for use

£12000 to install

Fitted onto buildings, doesn’t take up extra space

Energy not used can be taken into the National Grid

Accounts for 35% of a house’s hot water

No running cost

No greenhouse gases

Expensive to install

May be visually polluting

Can’t be mass produced

Not efficient in countries where the sun is rare

Wind energy Turbines rely on the force of wind to power blades into generating electricity Wind turbines are quiet and efficient

No emissions

30% saved on electricity bill

Requires local wind speed of >60 m/s

Life expectancy of 20 years

Regular maintenance required

Visual pollution

Offshore turbines affect the migration of birds

Hydroelectricity Tidal energy provided by the movement of tides that moves the turbines to produce electricity

Power stations often in highland areas

No emissions

Cheap + infinite

Tidal barges can be used as bridges

Can produce large bodies of water for leisure

Only built in certain areas

Alters water flow

Build up of sediment may decompose to form methane

40-80 mil people globally have been displaced due to dam construction

Negatively affects wildlife

b. the global energy mix of energy consumption

Energy surplus – Countries that have more energy than they consume

Energy deficit – Countries that consume more than they produce

Carbon neutral  – Countries that run entirely on renewable fuels (eg. Iceland)

Reasons for mix of energy consumption

  • Population. India has to meet energy needs for 1.2 bn people and has to use whatever’s available. Iceland has only 320,000 people to supply to and therefore can use sources that aren’t in great supply
  • Income. India’s government lacks the capital reserves so they supply the people with the cheapest forms of energy. Iceland can more easily afford initial start up costs required to produce energy from renewable sources
  • Availability of energy supplies. India has 5.6 bn barrels of oil near the west coast. Iceland however doesn’t have fossil fuels so it imports everything.But they do have great geothermal energy potential and fast flowing rivers which could be useful for hydroelectric power

Reasons for surplus ( + )  and deficit ( – )

  •  + Often in LICs, incomes are low and therefore people can’t afford electricity
  • + In HICS, due to low population
  •  + Employment of green energy
  • – High populations in HICs
  •  – No employment of green energy due to lack of govt. power and funding
  •  – Many people able to afford electricity and the white goods requiring them

c. Exploitation of energy resources has varied impact on the environment because of waste production and the impact on both local and global environments

Non-renewable resource – CASE STUDY : Canada tar sands extraction.

  • 180 bn. barrels of bitumen to be refined into petrol are awaiting to be extracted
  • Located near the Athabasca River, Alberta, Canada
  • For many years thought not economicaly viable, however due to dwindling overseas supply, rising cost of oil extraction and development of new extraction technology has resulted in the commercial exploitation of these resources

Local impact

  • Surface mining has resulted in the loss of vegetation and surface soil and rock to be cleared leading to concerns of loss of habitats
  • Energy required for refinement provided by natural gas is enough to heat 3 mil homes
  • 6 barrels of water is required to extract 1 barrel of oil – 349mil cubic metres of water / year. Water that is contaminated has lead to deformities downstream

Global impact

  • Refining bitumen releases 5-15% more CO2 than refining crude oil increasing global greenhouse gas concentrations
  • Removal of surface vegetation, mostly spruce trees affects the amount of O2 in the atmosphere

Renewable resource – CASE STUDY : England’s wind farm industry (The London Array) 

  • 175 wind turbines generat 630 mega watts of electricity. Enough energy to power 470,000 homes or 2/3 of Kent homes
  • London Array is located off the coast of Ramsgate, Kent with plans to be the largest offshore wind farm
  • In 2009 the UK govt conculded that there is scope for between 5-7k offshore wind turbines to be installed
  • Estimated offshore wind alone will be able to meet Britain’s current demand for electricity 10 times over
  • This is in effort to cut carbon emissions by 80% in 2050
  • We currently generate 15% of our energy needs from renewable sources

Local impact

  • Turbine blades cause the death of 4 birds/turbine/year
  • Turbulence created can lead to temperature changes
  • Turbines produce noise which is slowly in the modern era being reduced to less than 40 db.

Global impact

  • Construction of blades and pillars produces greenhouse gases


4.4 Management of energy usage and waste

a. how energy is being wasted


  • Leaving lights on when not needed
  • Leaving phone chargers plugged in after phone has finished charging
  • Standby electronic equipment
  • No insulation – no double glazing, no loft/water tank/wall cavity insulation
  • Thermostats set to high

Energy used for domestic purposes account for 48% of Britain’s greenhouse gas emissions

  • Domestic consumption of electricity as people buy more homes
  • Heating is the largest consumer of electricity

Key figures of energy loss in the home

  • 25 % roof
  • 10% windows
  • 15 % draughts
  • 15% floor
  • 35% walls


  • Poorly serviced / maintained machines
  • Vibrations from machinery
  • Leaks from compressed air valves
  • British industry wastes £12.7 bn on energy/year
  • The estimated cost of leaving office devices alone is worth £8.66 mil

b. carbon footprints for countries at different levels of development

Carbon footprint  – the measure of impact that human activities have on the environment, also the weight of equivalent CO2 emitted by the activities of a single person


  • World wide average carbon foot print – 4,000 kg
  • Industrialisaing natioin carbon footprint – 11,000 kg
  • Average footprint for a person in thr UK – 9,700 kg

Primary footprint – Amount of energy used in house / number of people in house + journeys

Secondary footprint – Recreational activities + energy required to supply people with goods and services

c. possible solutions to energy wastage in the UK on a local, domestic and national scale

1 ) Domestic

i. New home building design

  • Hot water jackets save £20 a year
  • Reduce central heating by 1 degree c saves £70/year
  • Cavity wall insulation saves £90 /year
  • Floor insulation saves £45 /year
  • Loft insulation saves £45 /year
  • Condensing boiler saves £200/year
  • Double glazing saves £5,000/year
  • Energy saving lightbulbs save £50/year
  • No standby electrics save £37/year

Govt. enforces strict laws on including these energy saving things in new buildings to reduce energy waste

ii. older homes

Case study : Warm Front Scheme

  • Grants from UK govt up to £2,700 for heating and insulation

Case study : British Gas

  • Offers free wall insulation to it’s customers on benefits

Case study : Aberdeen County Council

  • Upgraded council housing by improving heating systems
  • Including CHP (combined heat and power) in 4 high rise buildings containing 288 flats
  • System recovers heat which is lost in the production of electricity and distributes hot water to heat buildings


2 ) Local Scale

Case study : Eastcroft District Heating Scheme, Nottingham 

  • Gaining energy by burning waste
  • Run by the Waste Recycling Group

150,000 tonnes of rubbish is sent here


  • Heating for 1,000 homes and public facilities (libraries, museums and the ‘Victoria Shopping Centre’)
  • Electricity for 5,000 homes
  • Cuts waste going to landfill
  • Plant recycles 3,000 tonnes of Iron and steel
  • Ash from incinerator used for road construction


  • Gases still released into atmosphere
  • Critics believe scheme encourages production rather than reduction of waste
  • Costs £1mil/year

3) Solutions at a national scale

Case Study: The UK parliament

  • 18 landfills in the uk – govt. opting for Energy From Waste
  • Committed to reduce govt. energy by 30% by 2020
  • 80% reduction on climate change levy. Tax on energy delivered to non-domestic users in the UK, aim to provide incentive to increase energy efficiency and reduce carbon emissions to meet energy efficiency targets
  • “SMART” energy meters allow business to monitor energy usage
  • UK govt. requires high standards of energy efficiency
  • Removal of planning permissions to build energy saving systems




3.23 understand that division of a diploid cell by mitosis produces two cells which contain identical sets of chromosomes

Mitosis – cell division resulting in two, genetically identical diploid daughter cells.

  • All cells of the body (except from sex cells) are formed by mitosis from the zygote
  • In mitosis, each copy of each chromosome is made before the cell divides.
  • During the division, each daughter cell receives a copy of each chromosome


  • Mitosis is important for the replacement of cells.
  • Eg. skin cells, gut cells and blood cells.
  • In cancer, the normal control of mitosis is lost, so the cells divide very rapidly and repeatedly.


3.22 describe the determination of the sex of offspring at fertilisation, using a genetic diagram

  • Sex is inherited by sex chromosomes.
  • 2 xx chromosomes make a female, one xy chromosome makes a person male
  • Half of the sperm contain x chromosomes and the other half contains a y.
  • The type of chromosome that fuses with the egg determines the gender of the zygote (to be baby) – therefore there is an equal chance for both genders


  • When drawing a punnett square, females are homozygous, as they have XX chromosomes – they  only have one column.  

3.18 describe patterns of monohybrid inheritance using a genetic diagram

Monohybrid inheritance – the inheritance of a single character such as seed shape or eye colour.


  • The first successful scientific study on inheritance was carried out in an Austrian monastery garden in the mid 19th Century. It was discovered by Gregor Mendel and he used pea plants to study the inheritance of characteristics such as flower colour, seed shape and plant height.
  • Pea plants carry the same phenotypic features and are controlled by a single gene with two alternative alleles.
  • Mendel could control his experiments by ‘pure-breeding’ plants by transferring pollen by hand.

3.17 understand the meaning of the terms: dominant, recessive, homozygous, heterozygous, phenotype, genotype and codominance

  • Dominant – A form of a gene that is expressed and masks the recessive gene. It gives the same phenotype in both homozygous and heterozygous conditions as it expresses itself.
  • Recessive – A form of a gene that expresses itself only in the homozygous condition. E.g. Bb, it won’t be expressed because the dominant ‘B’ allele masks it and is expressed instead. But in ‘bb’, this is homozygous recessive, so it will be expressed.
  • Homozygous – Having identical alleles for a particular trait. E.g. BB-homozygous dominant, or bb-homozygous recessive. (two copies of the same allele)
  • Heterozygous A condition where you have different alleles for a particular trait. E.g. if B codes for brown eyes (dominant allele is always upper case) and the recessive allele is b (always the lowercase of the dominant alleles’ letter), then a person with a Bb genotype for eye colour is heterozygous dominant, so will have brown eyes.
  • Phenotype – Describes the physical characteristics of an organism with respect to a particular pair of alleles (the genotype), also the physical appearance resulting from the inherited gene
  • Genotype – Describes the alleles that a cell or organism has for a particular feature.
  • Codominance – occurs when neither the allele is dominant and both contribute to the appearance of the offspring.