Wednesday, 19 August 2015

GCSE Results Day - My Death at 16

When you're asked to think of your most memorable days, the ones where no matter how many           weeks, or even years pass, you never truly forget, who out of us says "Results Day"?  

Maybe I'm just being a pessimist. Or perhaps my mind has a hard time trying to forget the crippling anxiety this dreaded day has scarred me with. But when at 16, you see your peers around you crumbling under stress; having panic attacks and breaking down into floods of tears during exams - you can't tell me this is a day we can simply 'move on' from and 'forget'.  Under normal circumstances it would be me consoling others, telling them that it's simply not worth it; that it doesn't matter; that no matter how many tears you shed, what's done is done. That's just not something I can do anymore.  

The harsh reality of the world we live in, and the education system that is dictating our lives means that the exams we take at 14, 15 and 16 DO matter. Yet, I for one have spent the past few weeks convincing myself that they don’t. That the grades slapped on (for lack of better terms) next to my name and candidate number won't determine where I end up in 5, 10, or ever 30 years from now on! That there's more to the 'real world' we're constantly warned about than a grade.  

Of course the 20th of August may not literally mark my death, but when the pressure from teachers, peers and parents pile on and on and's difficult to see it any other way. When you've spent the last 5 years of your secondary education hearing nothing but "She'll do fine", "Oh, Aida, you have NOTHING to worry about" and the worst one yet "You don't even have to revise". Yes, these may seem perfectly harmless to others, compliments even, however when you're constantly being told this you're left with the need of these people's approval.  

To not let them down. 

To be the way they see you.  

To reach their expectations of you.  

To not be a failure.  

It's sad that my most memorable memories include: the lead up of results day, bursting into controllable tears after a Maths exam - knowing I won't forgive myself for getting anything less than an A*,and the constant state of nausea throughout exam period. It's even sadder to think that a system, put in place to educate young minds has made me feel this way. Now of course, everyone has had a different experience with exams and  people's grades are very personal (what they hope to achieve, what they would be disappointed in etc...). This has meant that sharing results of mock exams or even previously completely GCSEs has always been an issue. Many would see my previously need to get an A* in Maths as ridiculous, that settling for an A is perfectly ok; what needs to be a universal understanding within students is that grades are different for everyone. I repeat. Grades are different for everyone.  

What I dread most about tomorrow is being disappointed in one of my grades, then being told by a classmate that I have no reason to be - simply because in their eyes that's a good grade. Or worse, being told I should be happy with my grade, because said person has gotten a lower mark.  Grades are a sensitive issue and we should all respect what one another gets; for example, if someone is ecstatic with a grade that would have you in a flood of tears, rolling around on the floor (maybe that’s a little drastic), we should all have the courtesy to congratulate them, rather than giving a backhanded compliment; informing them that you could never be that happy with said grade. Or vice versa, exam jealousy is never healthy.  

Our generation, our year group in particular, has had so much shit thrown our way (excuse the language). We've been through so many changes by the government, screwing up our exams, removing our coursework. Leading me to do 10 pieces of English coursework in total - as the ones completed in year 9 "didn't count" (thanks Mr Gove!).  All linear courses now, no retakes unless you're willing to retake the entire course and basically repeat a year. Changes in A levels that start with our year group and toughening up the exams overall. May I remind everyone the Edexcel Maths paper got on national news and an online petition to lower the grade boundaries, received well over 25k signatures - our year unites so beautifully when we've been wronged.   

To all the 16 year olds (or soon to be 16 year olds) in the country, in the words of High School Musical: We're all in this together. I believe in you, the stress and the worrying WILL NOT have been for nothing. Let's give a huge 'f*ck you' to the exam boards for screwing with us.  

Let's go 90s babies, we got this. 



  1. That look s a little stressful!!!. A propósito la vida tiene cosas peores, y uno tiene que preocuparse por superarse uno y no atender demandas de otras personas. Aunque esa auto exigencia también debe tener un limite! (Perdón por escribir en español, es mi idioma nativo y hace mucho no uso el ingles!). Ánimos! Saludos

    1. It was stressful! Thank you for the comment. I had to do a little google-translating but I think I got there with the meaning and I think you are so right! xx

  2. You're so right. I had sort of my country's equivalent to GCSEs, like a national exam for all 17 year olds. While I didn't reach my goal, it took me a while to realise I didn't do rubbish either. I got straight As for all 9 subjects with the exception of a B+ in Chemistry and I still felt horrible. Comparing myself with all my straight A friends made me feel so dejected that I didnt achieve my goal. But I finally realised that I shouldnt beat myself so much about losing that one A and instead appreciate the fact that my hard work paid of for the rest of the subjects. Such a great post to read :) xx

    1. Ahh thank you my lovely! Apologies for seeing this comment ridiculously late. You are right, you should absolutely feel proud of every one of your achievements. If you have worked hard then there's nothing more that could be done! Well done on your results and thank you for this comment xx


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