On Thursday, Kelsey Trevett joined thousands of children around the country in getting their GCSE results. Here he explains the range of emotions that have been running through his mind since those dreaded exam days…
Every teenager is different, but I think there is one thing that pretty much all of us can agree on: exams are a nightmare. Whether it be GCSE exams, A levels or other educational assessments, exams are one of the most stressful, and yet repetitive, aspects of a teenager’s life. I recently collected my first set of results — my GCSE grades — after two months of nervous anticipation, and a sleepless night.
My exams stretched from mid-May until late June; by the time 23 August rolled around, it seemed like they happened a lifetime ago. The nights of cramming desperately for a science, maths, or basically any of the 23 exams I sat were long, long gone, and the early morning revision sessions, which usually took place on a packed London tube, were far behind me.
I still remember all too well the feeling of dread which hit me each and every time I set foot through the exam room door, but remember even more clearly the feeling of true freedom as I stood up for the final time from my last exam, and walked out of the school gates. Spending a summer doing what I like, when I like, without the looming horror of homework or revision has been odd to say the least; I’m ashamed to admit that, on the first day after my last exam, I found myself revising Further Mathematics in the morning, before remembering (30 minutes later) that the exam had already happened!
Thinking about collecting my results was stressful in itself. I am totally blind, and hence would be unable to read the piece of paper with my destiny — fine, grades — printed on it. Who would read them to me? How am I supposed to react? What if they’re awful?
These nerves lasted right up until I arrived at school, at which point I stopped worrying about that, and started worrying about the actual grades themselves! Everyone queued outside the main school hall, chattering away and waiting to obtain that all-important envelope which waited just a few yards from where we were stood. I spoke to a couple of my friends; we were all equally nervous, but it was good to know we weren’t alone in our concerns.
Despite being unable to read the contents of the envelope, merely holding it in my hand was a truly strange feeling. This envelope contained the results of something I’d worked for three years to achieve, and now the power was with me to decide when (or whether!) to find out how I’d done. I passed it back and forth between my hands, too anxious to unveil a piece of paper which I couldn’t read — it sounds silly in hindsight. What if I ripped the piece of paper when opening the envelope?
Eventually, I had my results read to me — I was so, so pleased. I simply stood there, in pure disbelief, and laughed in pure and utter relief — I had passed. All the build-up, all the worries and hopes and uncertainties had led to this moment, and I was in absolute shock that it was one that I could be proud of.
With the new reformed GCSE system, our year were a little unsure of how our grades would turn out. I got a 9 (top A* in old-grade speak) in English Language, 8s (or A*s) in Maths, Physics, French and Further Maths, 7s (As) in English literature and Chemistry and 6s (Bs) in Computer Science, History, Music and Biology.
It’s weird really, because I was partially worried about my exam results due to accessing the content of the qualifications. Sometimes, accessing more visual elements of a course, particularly in maths and science subjects, can be made more difficult by not being able to see. Getting exam results that I was proud of proved to me that I could achieve as good a grade as everyone else, and that accessing work in a slightly different way didn’t put me at a disadvantage at all.
More than anything, my results have given me confidence and determination to head into my A level courses with the knowledge that I can do whatever I put my mind to, and I can achieve my academic potential. I’m not going to lie though: results day is not something I want to have to go through too often!