Scroll to view the complete collection of our student blog posts. You’ll find posts on a range of topics, from school yearbook advice to the latest Carpe Diem opportunities. Enjoy! You’ll find all of our latest blog posts here.

Man Booker Prize Shortlist 2017 Announced

The time has finally come…the Man Booker Prize Shortlist has now been announced.

We can’t wait to get stuck into these texts, it’s going to be a close one!

The Man Booker Prize Shortlist for 2017:

4321 by Paul Auster (Faber & Faber)

A 20th-century epic and Auster’s first novel in seven years, which sees one hero lead four lives.

man-booker-prize-shortlist-4321

History of Wolves by Emily Fridlund (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, Orion Books)

In this novel, a teenager struggles to come of age in a world of religious zealots and predatory teachers.

man-booker-prize-shortlist-wolves

Exit West by Mohsin Hamid (Hamish Hamilton, Penguin Random House)

A genre-blurring piece, in which a couple leave an unnamed city in search of a new life.

man-booker-prize-shortlist-west

Elmet by Fiona Mozley (JM Originals, John Murray)

The debut novel by a medieval history student from the University of York examines post-Brexit Britain.

man-booker-prize-shortlist-elmet

Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders (Bloomsbury)

Master of the short story, this is Saunders’ first novel. A tale of great formal daring, set in the cemetery where Abraham Lincoln mourns his son.

man-booker-prize-shortlist-lincoln

Autumn by Ali Smith (Hamish Hamilton, Penguin Random House)

Set just after the EU referendum, this post-Brexit novel is a poignant exploration of the way we experience time.

man-booker-prize-shortlist-autumn

So there you have it, the Man Booker Prize Shortlist for 2017! Thinking of reading any of the above texts since the shortlist has been announced?

We’d love to hear your thoughts – just leave a comment below or drop us a tweet.

The Boomerang Team.

National Read a Book Day: 5 Classics We’re Reading

We’re celebrating National Read a Book Day with a little look at 5 literary classics…have you read any of these?

1) Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier

First published in 1938, Du Maurier’s novel is a fantastic thriller, which tells the tale of a young woman who falls deeply in love with the charming but mysterious Maxim de Winter. On moving to Manderley, she begins to discover that everything is not as it seems. Who is Rebecca?

national-read-a-book-day-rebecca

2) The Picture of Dorian Gray – Oscar Wilde

A masterpiece of the 19th Century, Wilde explores complex themes of duality, Aestheticism and self-indulgence in this novel. A mixture of horror, philosophy, suspense and fantasy, this beautifully written book will force you to question your own morality. How much would you be prepared to sacrifice for eternal youth and beauty?

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Ben Barnes as Dorian Gray in the 2009 film adaptation.

3) Brighton Rock – Graham Greene

Set in the 30s, Brighton Rock is a British murder thriller, set in – you guessed it – Brighton. Exploring deeply moral issues through a harsh study of violence, love and identity, this novel follows the life of anti-hero, Pinkie, a merciless gang-leader. What does the title of the book mean, we hear you ask?

national-read-a-book-day-brighton-rock

4) 1984 – George Orwell

Now you’ll definitely have heard of this one and it certainly makes an appearance on the majority of ‘top books to read’ lists but you might be surprised how few people have actually read it. A dark, dystopian novel published in 1949, it remains moving and fascinatingly relevant to this day. Will it have you looking over your shoulder? Big Brother is watching you!

national-read-a-book-day-1984

5) The Black Cat – Edgar Allan Poe

It’s difficult to pick just one of Poe’s stories but his short story, The Black Cat (1843), encapsulates the suspense, horror and insanity that pours through his writing. When we talk about unreliable narrators, we often (and rightly so) think of The Catcher in the Rye’s Holden Caulfield, however Poe was actually an earlier master of this narrative style. A chilling gothic horror, have a read of this if you dare…

national-read-a-book-day-edgar-allan-poe

We’d love to hear your thoughts on our 5 picks! Which books would you add? Contact us here or message us via Twitter 🙂

The Boomerang Team.

5 Things You Didn’t Know About Frankenstein: Happy Birthday Mary Shelley!

On this day in 1797, Mary Shelley, author of Frankenstein, was born. So in celebration, we’ve put together a list of 5 things you didn’t know about Frankenstein – or maybe you did know, in which case we salute you.

1) Mary got the idea from a dream

5 things you didn't know about frankenstein - cover

In true Gothic style, Mary Shelley claimed that the horrific tale of Frankenstein came to her in a dream, writing, “When I placed my head upon my pillow, I did not sleep…I saw the pale student of unhallowed arts kneeling beside the thing he had put together...On the morrow I announced that I had thought of a story…making only a transcript of the grim terrors of my waking dream.”

2) Many thought her husband Percy Bysshe Shelley wrote the book

5 things you didn't know about frankenstein - percy shelley

In a time when writing wasn’t deemed an appropriate profession for a woman, Frankenstein was initially published anonymously. Many believed that Mary’s husband Percy had written the book. Whilst it is true that Percy, a renowned writer and academic, did contribute to the text, the true extent of his involvement remains unknown.

3)Mary was only 18 years old when she wrote Frankenstein

5 things you didn't know about frankenstein skeleton

For a novel that has stood the test of time – circa 200 years and still counting – it might come as a surprise that Mary Shelley was only 18 years old when she wrote it!

Well now we feel productive…

4) Considered the first science fiction novel

5 things you didn't know about frankenstein - science

Usually thought of as a horror, Frankenstein is actually often considered by critics to be the first science fiction novel. It may not contain aliens and space ships but the concepts are certainly scientific and futuristic.

Will this make you see the novel in a different light?

5) Frankenstein was born out of a horror story contest

5 things you didn't know about frankenstein - monster

During a trip to Switzerland with future husband Percy Shelley and friend Lord Byron, the story goes that the three of them were stuck inside one evening. Lord Byron came up with a competition in which he challenged each person to tell a horror story.

Mary Shelley described the base idea of Frankenstein, describing a re-animated corpse and a scientist. This short story was to eventually become a novel!

So that was our list of 5 things you didn’t know about Frankenstein Drop us a tweet – have you got anymore to add? and let us know 🙂

Boomerang Team.

GCSE Results Day 2017: The Lowdown

You might have pushed it to the back of your mind, been worrying about it all summer or simply have forgotten about it completely. Well, fear not because we’re here to give you the lowdown on GCSE Results Day.

When is GCSE Results Day?

This year, Results Day falls on Thursday 24th August – save the date! You can collect your results from your school or college on Thursday morning. For exact timings, you should contact your school directly or check the school website.

Unable to collect your results in person? Request to receive them via post or have a friend or family member collect them on your behalf. This should be arranged in advance.

gcse-results-day-paper

How will the new GCSE system affect me?

This year, the 9-1 grading system will only apply to three subjects: Maths, English Language and English Literature, with 9 being the highest grade.

The rest of your subjects will still fall into the A*-U grading system.

Be sure to get clarification from your teachers on Results Day to avoid any confusion.

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I just missed out on my grade!

Your teachers will be at your school on GCSE Results Day to give you all the help and advice that you need.

If you narrowly miss out on a grade or feel that it doesn’t reflect your ability you can ask for your paper to be remarked.

Please note: You will have to pay a fee for any remarks which will only be reimbursed if there is a grade change.

So how can I apply for a re-mark?

You should organise GCSE re-mark applications through your school or college.

If you think that your result could be incorrect, you should speak to a teacher asap and they can submit an ‘enquiry about results’ (EAR) to the relevant exam board.

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It looks like I’ll need to re-take…

Didn’t get the grades you were hoping for? You will be able to re-sit some GCSE exams in November but it’s best to check with your school for exact re-sit options for your specific subject.

If you think you’ll need to re-sit several subjects, you may have to wait until the following June.

It’s worth that noting that if the re-sit isn’t in a required subject for your chosen courses, you may be able to start your A-levels in the meantime.

gcse-resit

I didn’t get the grades I needed for Sixth Form/College – now what?

You’ll probably already know that most Sixth Forms or Further Education colleges require you to get specific grades in order to gain a place.

Just missed out on a grade? The good news is that your Sixth Form or FE college might still accommodate you with the lower grades.

Find out if this is the case or if it’s possible to study a different subject or course at your chosen college.

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Alternative options

As important as they are, GCSE results are not the be-all and end-all. Look into the other options available to you if you do not get the grades you need to study A-Levels:

  • BTECs – A vocational qualification where you obtain skills through practical, work-related activities.
  • City & Guilds – Vocational and technical qualifications/apprenticeships, helping you to develop skills for career progression.
  • Apprenticeships – A combination of practical training and study to achieve an end qualification. You will be entitled to the National Minimum Wage.

gcse-results-day-options

Remember, whatever your results, there are plenty of options available to you 🙂

Best of luck!

The Boomerang Team.

A Level Results Day 2017: What To Expect When You’ve Applied For Uni

So 17th August 2017 marks the all-important A Level Results Day and we’re going to give you the lowdown on what to expect.

You’re welcome!

A Level Results Day – when exactly can I get my results?

a-level-results-day-2017-tell-me

Well this depends on whether you’ll be looking online or heading to your school first.

Not everyone realises that you’ll actually be able to view your university confirmation when UCAS Track goes live at 8am. So while you won’t be able to see your exact  A Level results, you will be able to see if you’ve met the requirements of your university offer.

Just be warned that a lot of people will be trying to access this at the same time so you may need to try logging in a few times intermittently.

UCAS’ social media team will be around from 6am and the phone-in centre opens at 7.30am.

To find out your exact results, you will still need to collect these from your school or college. Make sure that you know what time you should be at your school to collect your results. The timings can vary between schools but most should have these listed on their websites.

I’ve got my grades, now what?

Happy with your results? Go and celebrate with friends and family!

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Not so happy?

No need to panic, you have plenty of options:

  • If you didn’t miss your grades by much, you should definitely speak to your university right away – they may still accept you! Some universities also offer alternative courses instead, which you’ll need to accept or decline in UCAS Track.
  • Check your status on Track to find out if you are eligible for Clearing. You can read all about Clearing on the UCAS website here.
 Done even better than expected?
  • It’s a nice problem to have that’s for sure!
  • Consider applying through UCAS Adjustment, which could see you trading up to a ‘better’ university/course without losing your current offer. Find out more about Adjustment here.

a-level-results-day-2017

The most important thing to remember is that the decisions you make now are important. Think about what is right for you and try not to feel pressured by anybody else. The more well-informed you are the better.

Good luck!

Boomerang Team.

Man Booker Prize Longlist 2017 Announced

It’s one of our favourite times of year again – the announcement of the Man Booker Prize Longlist!

After last year’s winner Paul Beatty wowed critics with his daring novel, The Sellout, we can’t wait to find out who will be awarded the acclaimed prize this year.

With an excellent list of authors nominated, it’s going to be a close one!

The Man Booker Prize Longlist for 2017:

4321 by Paul Auster (Faber & Faber)

A 20th-century epic and Auster’s first novel in seven years, which sees one hero lead four lives.

man-booker-prize-longlist-4321

Days Without End by Sebastian Barry (Faber & Faber)

Barry explores national identity and self-renewal with this novel, as two young soldiers find intimacy amid the horrors of war.

man-booker-prize-longlist-days

History of Wolves by Emily Fridlund (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, Orion Books)

In this novel, a teenager struggles to come of age in a world of religious zealots and predatory teachers.

man-booker-prize-longlist-wolves

Exit West by Mohsin Hamid (Hamish Hamilton, Penguin Random House)

A genre-blurring piece, in which a couple leave an unnamed city in search of a new life.

man-booker-prize-longlist-west

Solar Bones by Mike McCormack (Canongate)

A family man’s ‘Day of the Dead’ in County Mayo after the boom and bust.

man-booker-prize-longlist-solar

Reservoir 13 by Jon McGregor (4th Estate, HarperCollins)

McGregor’s first novel for seven years. Formal experimentation gives way to a subtle study of the effects of a disappearance on a village’s inhabitants.

man-booker-prize-longlist-reservoir

Elmet by Fiona Mozley (JM Originals, John Murray)

The debut novel by a medieval history student from the University of York examines post-Brexit Britain.

man-booker-prize-longlist-elmet

The Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy (Hamish Hamilton, Penguin Random House)

This is Roy’s first novel in 20 years – memorable tale involving a vast cast.

man-booker-prize-longlist-ministry

Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders (Bloomsbury)

Master of the short story, this is Saunders’ first novel. A tale of great formal daring, set in the cemetery where Abraham Lincoln mourns his son.

man-booker-prize-longlist-lincoln

Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie (Bloomsbury)

A suspenseful tale of an immigrant family driven to pit love against loyalty, with devastating consequences.

man-booker-prize-longlist-home

Autumn by Ali Smith (Hamish Hamilton, Penguin Random House)

Set just after the EU referendum, this post-Brexit novel is a poignant exploration of the way we experience time.

man-booker-prize-longlist-autumn

Swing Time by Zadie Smith (Hamish Hamilton, Penguin Random House)

In this novel, two childhood friends from London follow diverging paths. Believed to Smith’s finest piece yet.

man-booker-prize-longlist-swing

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead (Fleet, Little, Brown)

A thrilling tale of escape from a deep south plantation, which takes in terror, beauty and the history of human tragedy.

man-booker-prize-longlist-underground

So there you have it, the Man Booker Prize Longlist for 2017! Have you read any of the above texts?

We’d love to hear your thoughts – just leave a comment below or drop us a tweet.

The Boomerang Team.

Happy Birthday iPhone! Celebrating The Big 10 With Some Interesting Smartphone Facts

With smartphones so embedded in our culture, it’s easy to forget that Apple’s iPhone turns 10 this week! Read on for some smartphone facts you might not already know…

Creating a game-changer

In 2007, just 10 years ago, Apple launched the iPhone and co-founder Steve Jobs (1955-2011) revolutionised the way we use mobile phones. smartphone-facts-steve-jobs

Jobs and his team came up with the idea of combining a touch-screen with a computer – essentially creating a hand-held computer without a physical keyboard or mouse.

The original iPhone was a very different model to the ones we know today; it couldn’t record videos, had no flash and lacked fully fledged apps.

It did however, change the smartphone market forever, evolving into one of the most successful product lines in the world.

We’ve pulled together a few smartphone facts to celebrate the iPhone’s birthday:

1) Everyone’s a photographer

smartphone-facts-camera

Thanks to the iPhone (and subsequent smartphones), we all have access to great, pocket-sized cameras.

Add this to the increasing popularity of social media and you can see that photography has become a key part of everyday life.

2) Less chewing, more texting

smartphone-facts-chewing-gum

According to research conducted by Euromonitor International, smartphones are responsible for declining chewing gum sales.

How, you ask?

Consumers waiting in supermarket checkout lines are surrounded by ‘impulse buys’ like chewing gum. However thanks to gadgets like the iPhone, many of us are opting to get our phones out, rather than look around at sweets and chewing gum while we’re queuing.

3) Fitting the Internet in your pocket

smartphone-facts-internet

This one’s pretty self-explanatory.

Thanks to smartphones, we can have access to the Internet wherever we go, without having to lug around a huge desktop computer.

The iPhone has had a massive effect on our lives when it comes to apps, videos, online shopping – you name it. Mobile Internet traffic has gone from strength to strength over a fairly short space of time.

4) In iPhone-Land, you never need to ask what time it is

smartphone-facts-time

The time on iPhone ads is always 09:41. This refers to the time that Steve Jobs announced the device.

Jobs timed his initial presentation to ensure that the time on the iPhone screen matched real time on the audience’s watches.

Yep, pretty meticulous!

5) Want to know Apple’s favourite musician?

smartphone-facts-bono

Did you know that the music icon once used for iPhone products is in fact the silhouette of U2 frontman Bono?

Of course there was also that time when all iPhone users (controversially) received a U2 album automatically…

 

Do you have any more iPhone facts for us? Comment below or tweet us if you do!

The Boomerang Team

Three Peaks Challenge: Team Boomerang Reaches New Heights!

three-peaks-challenge-ben-nevis

Ben Nevis official image…

Here at Boomerang, we love a challenge.

Through our Carpe Diem initiative, we are always encouraging students to push themselves.

Earlier this year, we decided to put our money where our mouth was and sign up to the Three Peaks Challenge!

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Scafell Pike official image…

Read on to find out a bit more about what we got up to last week 🙂

What does the challenge involve?

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Snowdon official image…

The Three Peaks Challenge involves climbing (or attempting to climb) the three highest peaks in England, Scotland and Wales:

Ben Nevis in Scotland – 1345 metres

Scafell Pike in England – 978 metres

Snowdon in Wales – 1085 metres

The Boomerang experience

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Our Ben Nevis experience…

Last week 17 brave members of the Boomerang team headed up to Scotland by coach, ready to start the Ben Nevis ascent at 5am.

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Our Scafell Pike experience…

It was cold, wet and windy but we managed it nevertheless!

Next, we got back on the coach and drove to the Lake District, trying to catch a few hours’ sleep before the Scafell Pike night-time climb…

Another successful (and incredibly tiring) climb under our belts, we embarked on the last leg to Wales, excited for the final climb – Snowdon.

three-peaks-challenge-snowdon-boomerang

Our Snowdon experience…

As tempting as the Snowdon train was, our entire team remained determined to complete the challenge – the cafe stop at the top of Snowdon may have helped with this!

Our stats

  • Ben Nevis time: 5 hours 42 mins
  • Scafell Pike time:  4 hours 33 mins
  • Snowdon time: 5 hours 41 mins
  • Total distance covered: 27 miles (44 km)

We’d like to say a huge thank you to Rom at YOLO Fitness for keeping us motivated and leading us to victory with this incredible challenge! What shall we do next?

Tweet @BoomEdLtd with any ideas on what we could do for our next challenge!

three-peaks-challenge-ben-nevis-boomerang-team

Did You Know These Facts About The Victorians?

  • We like to highlight important historical dates in Boomerang school planners and this week, we’re focusing on the Victorians.
  • Queen Victoria was born almost 200 years ago today, back in 1819.
  • As Queen of England for over 60 years, we thought we’d commemorate Victoria’s reign by bringing together a few facts about the Victorians that you may not know.

So here goes…

1) Queen Victoria gave us the white wedding dress

Queen Victoria

Although not the first to wear white on her wedding day, Queen Victoria was certainly the most influential.

With such a widely publicised wedding, her white lace dress was copied by brides across the country and thus she is often accredited with popularising this style.

2) Victorians wore black because of pollution

Image result for victorians wore black

Victorian fashion had many influences but one contributing factor to the wearing of black clothing was the heavy pollution.

Ever-present smog would often stain clothes and wearing black became an effective way of masking the discolouring.

3) They gave us creepy literature

victorian-fiction

From The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, to Dracula, the Victorian era produced beautifully chilling tales, often with a Gothic influence, that still impact the horror genre to this day:

The Raven – Edgar Allan Poe

Dracula – Bram Stoker

The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde – Robert Louis Stevenson

4) Freak shows were common

victorian-freak-show

A highly controversial but popular aspect of Victorian society, ‘freak shows’ featured ‘attractions’ such as deformed people and animals, uncommonly large or small performers and anything else deemed a ‘freak of nature’.

 

5) Female hysteria was an actual medical diagnosis

female-hysteria

Once a common medical diagnosis reserved solely for women, ‘hysteria’ was seen as a ‘disease of the womb’. Woman considered to have it, displayed symptoms such as insomnia, loss of appetite and even a ‘tendency to cause trouble’.

So what do you think of our facts? Do you have any others to add to our list?

Tweet us @BoomEdLtd to let us know! 🙂

The Boomerang Team.

GCSE Revision Tips: Beating the Exam Stress

Whether you’re already in the midst of the GCSE exam frenzy, or you’re worrying about exams coming up over the next few weeks, we’ve got loads of GCSE revision tips to get you through a potentially stressful period.

For more tips, take a look at at the Revision & Exam pages of our school planners.

Put down the coffee cup

  • One of the most important GCSE revision tips we can give you, is to keep hydrated. Your brain needs plenty of water and during revision, this will help with memory and concentration.
  • Did you know that on average, a fully grown man needs as much as 2 litres of water a day and a woman, 1.6 litres?
  • Avoid too much caffeine, as this will actually dehydrate you. Remember, this includes, coffee, coke and energy drinks to name a few.

GCSE-revision-tips-water

Get some sleep

  • Okay, this is easier said than done, especially when you probably have all sorts of exam-related worries going through your head.
  • If it helps, just think that sleep is when the brain turns what you’ve learnt into long-term memories – so a good night’s sleep is vital.
  • Even an extra hour in bed can make all the difference. You should be aiming for roughly 8 hour’s sleep every night, so try going to bed an hour or two earlier than usual.

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You’re still allowed to have fun

  • Another important GCSE revision tip to remember is that you don’t have to lock yourself away for 12 hours, staring at your revision notes.
  • Instead, try making a revision timetable and allowing time for things like exercise, seeing friends, watching tv etc.
  • Planning ahead will help you avoid last minute cramming and you’ll still be able to do the things you enjoy.

GCSE-revision-tips-fun

Keep things in perspective

  • Try to remember that exams aren’t the be-all and end-all so don’t put so much pressure on yourself.
  • Think about how far you’ve already come and once you’ve done an exam, put it out of your head and focus on the next one.

If you’d like more advice, drop us an email and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.

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We have faith in you!

The Boomerang Team x