We were informed recently that we would still be having end of year examinations, despite our current situation in home-school. Admittedly, my heart did sink when I heard the word ‘exams’ as I pictured the hours of revision that were required and the reality that it won’t be possible to completely relax over the lockdown period. I believe I work harder than most teenagers in the current times, I ensure I complete extra work outside of my online lessons, in an attempt to reach the highest grades possible, as opposed to many of my friends who don’t wake up until 1pm… However, do not be fooled into thinking I enjoy all of my extra efforts. My motivation fluctuates, my deadlines approach to fast and it’s impossible to get everything done that I want to. Therefore, being reminded that I have upcoming exams puts more pressure on me to keep working hard, but also pushes me to work even harder and become stricter on myself (not great for keeping one mentally sane!) The unique thing about revision is that it is very personalised. You can do it in many different ways, time intervals and frequencies. Consequently, it is up to you to decide how much is necessary, leading to an overall indication of how you are going to do in an exam. It is also important to note that it is as easy to overdo revision than to avoid it completely. My school emphasises the importance of independent learning, with sixth formers expected to complete 15-20 hours of independent study per week. These hours exclude lessons and contact with teachers making it easy to see how this is abandoned by many pupils. I aim for the 15 hour bracket, as I try to be realistic for myself and allow myself to live a balanced lifestyle: work hard, play hard. As much as I am doing, I still seem to feel as though I am never doing enough however, whilst going through my GCSEs, I learnt that I am never going to be fully satisfied until I walk out of the exam hall for the final time, knowing I have done everything I could have. I find it important to remind myself that I am usually sticking to teacher guidance hence I should not beat myself up if one month I don’t manage to get through all of my flashcards.
Despite seemingly holding a very negative view of exams, which is unfortunately very easy due to the pressure and stress that comes with them, there is a side of me which is grateful for them. Even though I would love to spend the rest of lockdown snuggled in my bed binge watching ‘The Vampire Diaries’, I know that it would be much better for me to keep my mind stimulated. What better way to achieve this than exams? The revision will be tough, and I am already anticipating a few moments of hysteria, but I am thankful for my exams providing me with something to look towards: a goal. Without exams, I could sign into my lessons from my bed, listening to the teacher with my mic and camera turned off, whilst the information passes swiftly over my head. On the other hand, my exams have meant that it is vital for me to remain in the usual school mindset, concentrating in lessons and putting in the same amount of effort (I may even argue I am doing more now!) Upon my return to school, I should be in a similar position to that which I left, beneficially even retaining more information than I left with. If all goes well, my exam results should provide me with an accurate insight into how I am doing in all of my subjects and set me up for my final sixth form year, and I may be able to return not too dissimilar to how I would begin Year 13 without the interruption of a pandemic!
I most certainly would rather avoid my exams. They cause me stress, sleep-deprivation, scrutiny and much more. However, I feel as though I am currently presented with three doors. The left one is a radical decision to drop out of school, lose everything I have worked for so far, and most likely go down a dark path in life. That doesn’t seem to be an option for me. The middle is a mediocre option. The door offers for me to stick out sixth form, but make my school life easier, laying back and passively watch the school year go by. This would mean that I would not work hard for my exams, inevitably coming out with poor results. Again, this doesn’t seem too appealing. The final option is the door on the right. This door has a warning sign of hard-work, challenge and tears but it also shows a glimmer of light behind the frames. Going through this door would not be easy, however in the end all the work would be worth it. This seems like the door for me. Although I am going to have to sacrifice my sleep, Netflix and social (media) life, I am willing to work for good results. If my exams don’t go as I plan, I will feel deflated, however I will still have a year to turn myself around. It’s all part of the process and what’s success without failure? If on the contrary I do succeed, I will be at an advantage entering my final year, providing me with the confidence I am definitely going to need next year. As I sat in my Maths Paper 1 GCSE last year with tears filling in my eyes, I never thought that I would say this: I am grateful for exams.