Posted by Salil Bhate on 15 Aug 2012
I was finished with school exams a couple of years ago. My views on them have changed a lot, and I feel that if I knew what i know now, I wouldn't have been so worried about them! So here's a bit of advice which might help some of you.
For GCSE's, A-Levels, Scottish Highers, IB and all other school results, there are really 3 possibilities:
1- You worked hard and got the grades you wanted
2- You worked hard and things didn't go to plan
3- You didn't work hard but are still a little disappointed
I really think it's not worth worrying or feeling distressed- in any one of these 3 scenarios and maybe I can convince you of this.
1. Great! You did well and should enjoy your day and the rest of the summer. Not really much more to say here! If you're worried about friends who are upset, read on for why really, it'll be fine for them too.
2. Exams are a game of luck- I remember when I was doing my English GCSE, an essay I'd looked over the night before came up exactly the same on the exam. That made the difference between a grade I was happy with and not. Unfortunately, A-Levels have more depending on them and university offers too.
The first thing to say is that you'll love wherever you end up going- whether it be your second choice or through clearing. If you do end up taking a gap year or reconsidering university this is good too: a lot of people go to uni because they feel pressured into it and because certain employers say they need a degree. Well, there are lots of different pathways to a successful career, and everyone finds their way eventually.
With GCSE's, they're definitely not as important as the media says. Maybe even your teachers say. Everyone's good at different things- just because you're not as good or as lucky at written exams doesn't mean your skills have less of a value in the long run. They're important - but succeeding at life and even education itself is about more than a letter on a printout.
And last thing- the fact that you worked hard and are disappointed is a quality in itself.
Obviously, you're going to be upset. But as long as you remember there's more to life, you'll feel better much sooner.
3. Same thing again! Different people are good at different things, and the pressure to be the same and all be good at the same thing is what's causing you to be stressed. Parents, schools and the media do this awful thing of claiming that exams are all that matters and what determines how you'll do at life. Well, maybe that was how it was in their day, but it isn't like that any more. It's more important to find something you're passionate about, something you can commit to and as long as you can do that, you'll be happy in the long run. University might not be the way for you- really think about the different options (which your school should inform you about) and don't feel like because your teachers or your friends or your parents or your friends' parents say so that there's only one way forward.
So that's why, in my opinion, you shouldn't really worry or take things too seriously. To sum it up in a few words: there's more to life!
Maybe there's something about school or the media or your family in particular that's stressing you out. I'd love to hear your thoughts about why you're feeling what you're feeling about results.