Sunday, 25 May 2014

Exams, Stress and a Lode of Revision

I've not posted for two weeks, I know and I'm sorry. 'Where have you been, Taz?' I hear no one ask. Well, like thousands of students all around the country, I've been dwelling with the revision blues recently. 

Despite only having five exams for a total of two subjects (my other two are purely coursework based), I've really been struggling. I thought having fewer subjects and fewer exams from GCSE, I might find it a little easier and less stressful. But boy was I wrong. My brain feels like it's going to burst with the amount of information I've been attempting to cram into it this past month. (Side note: cramming is never a good idea. Don't do it.) I'm just a little overwhelmed by it all and needed a way to vent and get everything off of my chest. Cue blogging...

Lets start with maths, shall we. A dreaded subject for many, but I used to be rather good at maths. I got an A in my first year of GCSE despite being told I would struggle to get a C (really didn't want that to sound braggy, sorry), so naturally thought taking it as an A Level was a no brainer. But my ability seems to be slacking and the Core 2 exam on Thursday was the absolute worst, an opinion shared by most of twitter by the looks of things which makes me feel slightly better. However, I'm doubting that a fiddle with the grade boundaries is going to save me on this one. As soon as I opened the paper I could feel my heart sink. I didn't know how to answer half the paper. All the studying, tears and stress headaches now amount to nothing but failure and it feels like I might as well of just spent the last year doing nothing. It's just so disheartening that a few nastily structured questions can control the route you take from results day to, well, the rest of your life.

Psychology seems like the most interesting topic in the world, and in a way it is, until you have to study it. Re-reading all the theories that sound completely bonkers and wrong to you; the pointless and, in some cases, horrifically unethical case studies that supposedly support said theories; and the self conducted studies that you have to reconstruct just to figure out what on earth you were actually trying to find out (an unnecessary step if you have lovely, legible handwriting) all can become physically draining. The AS course is huge and there is so much to remember. And, ironically, studying memory really didn't help me remember the mountain of revision that joined learning the subject. So much revision in fact, that I often breezed through smaller topics in much less depth than needed just to get through it all. And, typically, these smaller topics are the ones that turned up in my exam. I mean, I know I was warned that there was a little bit if Biology in the course, but I feel I should of been properly informed, since I struggled with Biology at GCSE,  that a fifth of the course is dedicated to the subject. I feel like I was doomed from the start. Hormones though, how was I meant to remember hormones on top of all the actual psychology material? Give me a break man!

What do exams prove anyway? Your ability to regurgitate a number of facts on a select few topics of a  large and varied subject? It shouldn't be this way but it does feel like that's the case. Exams appear to only test memory rather than actual ability on only a small fraction of the course that you have spent hours, weeks even, trying to memorise. It's all just very unfair and stressful, isn't it? You spend years in education and are forever told that your whole life depends upon a piece of paper representing you in a number of grades that do not translate into actual skills necessary or desirable in the real world. 

Is it that obvious that I'm in favour of coursework? Seriously though, one exam does not justifiably show your knowledge of a subject you have studied for a whole year, or two years in the case of some GCSE's or IB. It's too much pressure on young people. We just want to stalk celebs on twitter, not revise information that will be of no use to us in the future. I just feel like sometimes it's all just a waste of time that could be better spent learning skills that I will actually need in the future, like how to open a bank account or how to write a CV (I know careers lessons are supposed to cover everything job-related but I've still never written a CV). 

I really hope this doesn't put people off studying A-Levels. That really isn't my intention. I actually enjoyed year 12, minus the revision of course. I just feel overly stressed about a piece of paper and I'm not taking to failing all that well. I know that you can not possibly know or predict your results until you receive them, but then you also weren't in that last maths exam... 

So, for those of you who still have exams, what are you doing reading my mess of thoughts? Get revising. But seriously, good luck and I hope you achieve the grades you want. I have my final maths exam in two weeks so I'm still with you on the revision front. It'll all be over soon and then we will all have a glorious summer and an amazing time in the sun. I think all this revision and lack of socialising has gotten to my head. I'll leave now before I bore/scare you anymore.

Tasmin x


  1. I'm staring my gcse's next year and i'm not looing forward to it haha! Good luck <3 xx

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    1. Don't worry, exams aren't always as bad as you think they are, especially not at GCSE. Thank you! Xx