//My experience of educational-related stress//

​Stress. It’s something that most of us will suffer with at some point in our lives, and something that I feel we don’t talk about enough. I mean, it’s almost become something meaningless that sort of crops up in any general conversation about school or education – for example sometimes I’ll have a catch up with friends I don’t see often, and we’ll ask each other how college is going and just give a generic reply of “oh it’s okay, apart from the stress” but never elaborate on the stress, and I think it’s something that we should talk about more, because it can have huge impacts on the lives and health of young people.

It’s no secret that education has been reformed over the past 10, 20 and even 50 years, and I don’t know about other countries, but from my experience here in the UK, education has definitely become a lot harder, especially the examination system, and this has lead to a simultaneous increase in the amount of pressure and stress young people feel. 
One of the hardest things about trying to cope with educational-related stress as a young person, is that it’s hard for our parents to sympathise with us and really understand what we’re going through, because certainly in the case of my parents, education was a lot different back then, and although they still had some exams, they can’t remember having to work constantly, or revise for a prolonged period before their exams. For example, sometimes I get so stressed about the amount of work to do, that I can’t physically do it because my stress starts to affect my mental well-being, and I just don’t have the energy to work, or can’t focus on anything, and end up in a state of panic. In these times, my parents suggest to just take a break, postpone my work and tell me for the 1 billionth time that I spend far too much time working than is necessary. For me this just makes the situation worse, as postponing work just means it keeps piling up and up until I’m stuck in a situation where I just have too much to do in a the amount of time I have, and telling me I work too hard just makes me agitated, because even though I do do a lot of work, there is still so much more I need to do, I am no where near on top of my studies and the work I am doing isn’t effective as there is so much information I need to know that I can’t physically cram it into my brain – I basically forget everything five minutes after revising it, and my parents don’t understand that. 
I suffer from stress to the point where I constantly feel on edge, as if I’m about to snap at any moment, whether that be shouting at someone for no apparent reason or bursting into to tears. I’m sure I’m not alone, in fact, I know I’m not alone, because my friends and you guys are the only people who understand the stress we’re put through because of education, and we’re all too preoccupied with our own stress to help each other more than offering a few comforting words of “it’s okay, I understand”. 
I think it’s important to talk about stress more, because then maybe (it’s a long shot but we can hope) the government will realise that the pressure that the education system puts on us is not healthy. 
Honestly, I don’t know how long I can go on like this, stuck in this constant spiral of stress and fear. I don’t even know if I’ll pass this year or end up having to retake, I’m working as hard as I can, and as my parents say that’s all I can do, but the truth is it just. Isn’t. Enough. Not according to the new A Levels system anyway. And I know grades aren’t everything, but the constant fear of failing is always in the back of my head, because it’s been drilled into us for years that we need to get good grades. 

I’m not really sure what I wanted to achieve out of this post, I just wanted to let you know that if you too are suffering from stress, then you are most certainly not alone in this.

//Revision/A Level tips!!//

I can’t believe it’s March already! That means I’ve been at college for 7 months and am well into my first year of A Levels. With exam season nearing ever closer, I started revising a few weeks ago and it’s been a bit of a learning curve to say the least, so I thought I’d share a few revision tips I’ve learnt over the past few weeks and just general tips for studying A Levels in general! Obviously if you’re not studying A Levels, you can still adapt these tips to help you and feel free to comment more advice below. 🙂

Make sure you have a good set of notes to revise from
This is something that ideally you should do as you go along, rather than in the last few months before exams. Always make sure your notes are up to scratch after each lesson and consult the course books to see if any extra detail can be added. I know some people like to do this by just rereading their notes after lesson and checking they’ve got all the information they need on that topic, and others who rewrite their notes to make sure they have a neat set of notes which are set out clearly and will make the revision process easier. I do the latter in a way – since September I have been rewriting my notes after each lesson onto little index cards which have turned out to be really useful to help with revision as all the information is laid in manageable, bite-sized chunks. But do whatever works for you, just make sure you have covered all the information required before the time revision starts so you’re not learning something for the first time just before your exams.

Make sure you know the course content

This sort of links in with the last point – in order to have good notes from which to revise, you need to make sure you’re keeping up with the required course content. You can do this by checking the text book after lesson to see if there’s anything you’ve missed or downloading the specification for your course from the exam board website which will tell you exactly what you are required to know as part of the course. 

Also sometimes you won’t have time to cover all of the course content in lesson – I know sometimes we don’t have time to study a chapter or two (or three or four *cough cough GEOGRAPHY*) but make sure you don’t leave this until revision starts because it will just be added stress to try to learn something for the first time whilst revising everything else! A good way to avoid this is use half-terms to catch up on any chapters/topics you may have not had time to cover that term before you move on to the next unit and completely forget about all the stuff you missed out. 

Revision timetables can be flexible

Whilst I’d definitely recommend making a revision timetable to help you structure and organise your revision and ensure you have adequate time to cover all the topics before exams arrive, your timetable doesn’t have to be set in stone. It can seem quite daunting to have a set list of things you need to do and sometimes I find it stresses me out because it can feel like revision is taking over my life and I constantly worry over the fact that I have to revise depositional landforms or the prohibition era today and I can’t relax until I’ve done it, which is quite frankly stress I don’t need! So I’ve discovered that not having a fixed timetable is more relaxing and productive. 

When I’m making a timetable, I  will assign a subject for revision to particular days (e.g. Monday’s = geography, Tuesday’s = history) BUT I don’t force myself to stick to doing those things on those days. Sometimes I’ll get home after a long day at college on Monday and won’t feel like spending more time on geography after my 3.5 hrs of geography lessons,so I’ll do history or French instead. Or other times I’ll be really tired so take an evening off and reschedule that revision to later on in the week. Or I’ll do half of the planned revision and do the rest the next day/before college if I have some spare time. The only restrictions I would advise to place on your revision timetable even if you want to make it as flexible as possible, is to complete all the revision planned for that week before the start of the next week, because putting revision off until it piles up does not help and you’d just get so behind. 

For some people, having a rigid timetable might work, but if you’re like me and having set times to certain things stresses you out more, then adopting a strategy like this might work!

This week I did my geography revision on Monday evening and Tuesday morning instead and will do the history revision later on in the week, probably Friday evening.

Take advantage of moments of motivationSomething a lot of people struggle with during the revision process is motivation. It can seem like revision is a never-ending process and after a while it can get repetitive and tedious, causing you to want to give up. That’s why it’s a good way to take advantage of moments of motivation – if you suddenly get an urge to go over standard deviation or the imperfect tense, there’s no point forcing yourself to revise the acceleration of globalisation just because it’s scheduled on your revision timetable. This links in again with the last point about flexible timetabling – at the end of the day you’re going to be most productive if you’re revising something that you want to revise and are feeling motivated to revise in that moment. That being said, don’t use this an excuse to put off topics that are harder/are less interested in – even if you have to make deal with yourself to revise a harder topic than an easier topic that you enjoy more. It’s all about finding a varied balance of revision to keep you engaged. 

Revision is very much trial and error

At GCSE I found it was fairly easy to just revise each subject in the same way – by making mindmap, flashcards, rewriting notes etc – but since starting A Levels in September I’ve found it much harder to revise for them. For one thing, the subjects are much more diverse meaning certain revision methods work for some subjects or units and not others, which does mean you have to plan your revision more carefully to ensure you give yourself enough time to revise in he most effective way for each unit – saldy last minute cramming DOES NOT work with A Levels! Secondly, there is just so much content in A Levels that some revision techniques are just too time-consuming to be effective – it’s all about finding the balance between efficiency and effectiveness which might take a lot of trial and error.

For example I reluctantly came to the conclusion yesterday that my method of revising French had not been working for the past few weeks, but that’s okay because if you start revising a bit earlier than needed, you can evaluate your revision process as you go along and if you find, like me, that something isn’t working, you have enough time to fix it without losing valuable revision time. 

So that’s a few tips that I’ve learnt from studying A Levels and attempting to figure out how the heck it’s possible to revise SO MUCH content for the exams in the summer, hopefully they’ll be useful to some of you and if you have anymore advice you’d like to share regarding revision, please feel free!

//GCSE Results Day Recap//

So as you can probably guess, I didn’t really sleep much last night and the ridiculous heat didn’t help either. BUT I managed to wake up in time – even before my alarm went off for once! I originally thought I was getting my results at 10am but the school changed it to 9:30am so I had to rush out, meet my friends then head over to school for the last time ever eek! 

We didn’t have to listen to a massive speech from the principal this time like we did on results day last year – he just said a few words then let everyone go and collect our envelopes. 

I literally almost got crushed going to get my results because our whole year group (around 250 people) were sat on the tiered seating in the school hall and EVERYONE tried to shove their way down the steps at once to get to the tables where out results were layed out. Once I’d picked up my results I found my friends and we went outside to open them. 

I was extremely nervous about opening my results because I found physics and maths really tough so was expecting to be disappointed but the grades I got were better than I ever could have imagined. All of my friends did really well and passed everything they needed to and I am so proud of them!

What kind of annoyed me though was that as soon as I opened my results and had barely looked at them, let alone let it all sink in, the head of school came over to me saying that she’d been looking for me as I was on her ‘list of high flyers’ (because the teachers get to look at our grades before us she had obviously.already had time to compare everyone’s results) and she was making such a fuss getting the photographer from the local newspaper to take a picture of me and two other girls who got similar results and it was really stressing me out a) because I don’t like being pressured to do things b) because I didn’t even want my photo taken and c) because I hadn’t even had the chance to tell my friends what I’d got before I was whisked off to the photographer.

What’s worse was that I had to have my photo taken with a girl that I’ve never really liked – she is always so arrogant and literally thinks she’s the best at everything. She’s the type of person that is extremely smart and isn’t afraid to let everyone know it or use it to make other people feel bad and inadequate. I really, really can’t stand her. I already knew that I’d have to put up with her for the next two years of college in my a level French class because only around 5-10 people take French so I wouldn’t be able to avoid her. I thought today might have been a chance to kind of move on from secondary school and act more friendly towards each other so it would be less awkward at college but after we had had our photo taken, I turned to her and was about to congratulate her but she was giving me the most horrible glare ever (because obviously she wasn’t happy with the fact that other people had achieved as good results as her). I said to myself ‘so this is how it’s going to be then’ and I just walked off because now I know that we’re never going to be “friends”and she’ll never treat me as an equal and if there is one thing I’ve learnt from secondary school, it’s that you don’t waste time on people who clearly aren’t worth it.

Aside from that, I have had a lovely day celebrating with my friends. Our school hired an ice cream van so we all got free ice creams, chatted to teachers and friends for a bit, then headed to my friend’s house.​

Yum
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My friends mum was so happy and excited that when we walked through the door she hugged us and kissed us all on the cheek lol 😂 We spent the rest of the day eating chips from the local fish and chip shop, chatting, playing pool, Irish snap and Monopoly, having pillow/beanbag fights and just generally being really hyper and weird. 
I left my friend’s house at like 5pm and when I got back my mum wasn’t very happy because I’d spent all day out with my friends (even though she knew I was going to do that anyway) and the rest of my family just seem a bit miserable (I think my sister is annoyed because I got higher grades than her and udk what’s up with everyone else). But other than that I’ve had a great day.

I hope everyone else’s exam results were what you were hoping for and remember that all the thousands of facts and statistics and knowledge you gained whilst studying for these exams is worth so much more than just one letter. At the end of the day the aim of school is to leave with more knowledge than you’ve started and the knowledge and skills you take away from school is what’s important and what determines your success. 🙂

The featured image us of a street in Oxford and at the moment I am probably more proud of how that photo turned out than I am of my results. It still hasn’t sunk in and I’ve been in a constant state of shock all day!

//Exams need to change//

I’ve been thinking about this for a while but today’s exam confirmed it. I had my second biology exam today and although I thought the exam went quite well, guess what? Only 14 of the 53 topics on the specification actually came up in the exam. That’s just 26%. Not only did the exam board fail to test us on the majority of the course which I have spent three years learning, they decided it would be fun to ask us about ‘the 4 elements all proteins need/have’ and ‘why red seaweed grows at great depths’ which aren’t even included anywhere on the specification. And what about the other 74% of the course? Was it even worth me learning that in the first place?

This got me thinking about how exams are really quite unfair. I mean, it’s only natural for everyone to have their own strengths and weaknesses within subjects. I know exams can’t always play to everyone’s strengths but I just find it really unfair how the topics that actually come up in the exam are randomly selected as surely this gives students who’s strengths lie within these topics an unfair advantage. You could get a grade C in physics for example because the 26% of the specification that is actually in the exam happens to be the bit you struggle with most so then you and everyone else will forever be thinking you’re just average at physics when in reality you could have A* knowledge on the other 76% of the course that you weren’t tested on and that your grade wasn’t determined by and in actual fact the only things in physics you are not too great at are describing how double-glazed windows work (thanks for that OCR physics – in case you hadn’t noticed, I don’t want to be a window fitter when I’m older so how am I supposed to know that?).

Not only is the way exams don’t actually assess you’re whole knowledge of a subject unfair, there is also far too much content for you to  be able to actually leave school and remember a single thing about the advantages of using immobilised enzymes or what red shift even is. I don’t know about you, but I find that as soon as I’ve finished an exam, all of that knowledge is just forgotten because my brain knows it is taken up valuable, unnecessary space which I need to prepare for my next exam. So far I’ve done exams in RS (ethics and philosophy), maths, English literature and language, history, geography, French, chemistry, physics, biology and politics and to be honest I can barely remember anything I’ve spent the past three years learning (except French because my brain weirdly seems to translate everything I’m about to say into French before I actually speak). It seems like such a waste – and to be honest it is – but because we are forced to cram one 300 paged text books worth of information into our brains after the other, anything that’s not needed anymore has to go, no matter how much I want to be able to remember it.

In my opinion, exams and education in general would be so much more effective and useful if the course content was a lot smaller and all of it was actually included in the end-of-course exam. Otherwise what’s the point? Reducing the course content would give us more time to learn and understand the information we are expected to know so revising for exams won’t become so much of a test of how good your memory is but of how much you actually understand and are able to apply that subject knowledge. For me revision has just become a process of forcing myself to memorise facts but wouldn’t it be nice of instead of having to cram all these facts in without having time to properly understand them, we could just know those facts and concepts because we understand them fully and are able to apply them to everyday life around us? At least that way we are more likely to leave school actually knowing how catalysts affect the rate of reaction instead of just having a sheet of paper saying at one point in our lives we were able to recall this information under timed conditions only to have forgotten about it before we’d even left the exam hall. The whole aim of school is to educate us and provide us with the knowledge we need to pursue the careers that we want to but at the moment this is not the case as we are expected to learn so much that we never have time to fully understand everything and if we can’t understand stuff, then we won’t be able to put it into practice in real life which is a fundamental feature of effective learning. At the moment I’d be no more qualified to do job biology-related job with my *fingers crossed*GCSE biology than someone who has never studied biology in their life because I simply can’t recall anything I’ve learnt. The problem with having loads of course content is that the only way we can pass our exams is by cramming all these facts into our short-term memory as we don’t have the time to understand them in sufficient enough detail for them to be embedded into our long-term memory.

An alternative to reducing the course content and including it all in the exam (because we all know the government would never agree to this as it would make exams ‘easier’ – nah m8, it would just mean us students were able to leave school actually knowing stuff but you don’t seem to want us to become educated…(stop starting conspiracy theories about the PM, Em, and stop getting over-excited about the incoming double-bracket)) would be to divide each exam into sections. These sections would correspond to sections of the specification which would give he course more of a clear structure AND allow the exam board to offer a choice of sections/topics in the exam so everyone gets the chance to show off their true abilities to the examiners and answer topics that play to their strengths. This would make exams a lot more fair and useful in my opinion plus it wouldn’t be too hard for exam boards to actually implement this change (although I’d never have the courage to actually suggest this alternative exam system to exam boards or the government myself…well, maybe one day).

So, that’s why I think exams really do need to change. I know the government is just beginning the process of making exams ‘harder’ so I’m sure I’ll end up writing a much angrier rant than this in a years time when I will have experienced being the ‘guinea pig’ year for the new ‘tougher’ a-levels, but if anything, the fact that I am able to waste an hour of my valuable revision time writing this rant at the moment proves that exams are too hard and unfair as it is and that these new reforms are only likely to make everything much, much worse. All I can say is good luck to everyone sitting the new reformed GCSEs – I simply can’t imagine how the can make them ‘harder’ than they already are but everything is possible I guess…

 

 

//Stress and de-stressing//

Hello! So as you can probably tell from my lack of blogging this week, I have been VERY busy. It is now just under 4 weeks until exams start so revision is taking up most of my time right now. Although for the past week I have been having a little ‘break’ from revision as when I went back to school on Monday I was so stressed and exhausted from doing 3-4 hours of revision per day during the two-week break. So although I have only been doing half as much revision as I should have been, I still only managed to write one post – who knows whether I’ll be able to blog at all in the next few weeks and months??

I never though exams would stress me out so much. Last week I have just felt so exhausted and needed to sleep all the time. Plus I haven’t been having the best of weeks friend-wise so that hasn’t really helped.

However, whilst searching for ways to de-stress and chill a little before I lose my mind over revision, I came across meditation. I mean, obviously I have heard of meditation before – when I did martial arts in primary school we used to meditate at the beginning of the session so I thought why not try it again? I discovered this great app called Headspace which is free on Android and Apple and is basically a culmination of podcast lessons teaching you how to meditate. Unfortunately, you only get 10 lessons free but you can replay the sessions at any time so I’m probably just going to do the sessions over and over again. Each session lasts for 10 minutes and they are really easy to follow. So far I have done two sessions and I am really starting to notice the difference. I just feel generally calmer in myself and my mood has lifted a lot as I was feeling quite down last week. I recommend doing them in the morning so you start your day off on the right foot but I guess they would work any time you have a spare 10 minutes. I am going to attempt to do a session before I go to school each morning (depending on how much spare time I have) as I find this is the time when I am most stressed/nervous and could do with relaxing. I definitely recommend you check it out if you, like me, are extremely stressed over exams and revision right now.

Aside from stress, I have had quite a pleasant weekend. Yesterday I went to Airhop trampoline park (for the 4th time) for a friend’s birthday and it was really fun! Then today I participated in the annual St George’s Day parade with Scouts. We paraded through the local town then had a service in the park which was…interesting to say the least. About half way through the service, a French man ran in front of the vicar (and the roughly 200 Scouts + members of the public who gathered to watch the service) waving the European Union flag and shouting ‘don’t leave us Europe, tout le monde loves you!’ Everyone was a little shocked at first but after a few minutes some of the Scout leaders stood up and led him away from the front. As you will know (if you read my last post about the EU, which you can read here), I am a strong supporter of staying in the EU, and I guess this is kind of proof that Europe agrees with me (well, one man anyway)!

In other news, I wrote my first ever guest post this week for the awesome Feminista’s blog about Scouting and periods. I’m, really grateful for the Feminista’s for letting me guest post because I think just generally we need to reduce the stigma surrounding periods and I wanted to share my experiences of being female in a mainly male Scout group and all the problems that entails. I’d be really grateful if you could take a look at my post here and also The Feminista’s blog in general because they discuss many important topics which we could all do with considering and thinking about.

Finally, today I bought a new pair of shoes and I am soooo in love with them! Even though they are men’s shoes, I still bought them because they are such a nice colour and are really comfy. Plus I don’t see what’s wrong with wearing men shoes or men wearing womens shoes – shoes are shoes are shoes, right? Anyway, here they are:

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Anyway, that’s all for now. Can’t promise I’ll be able to post much or at all next week but I wish you all an amazing week anyway and hope to speak to you guys soon! 🙂

P.S Sorry for the bad photo quality!

//The calm before the storm//

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So today marks exactly a month until my first exam *gulp*. As far as revision is concerned, I am managing to stick to my timetable although some things are going better than others.

Maths – I have kind of hit a slump in my maths revision to be honest. I’m still sticking to my timetable and doing everything I planned to do, but I’m not putting much effort into it – I have no motivation to do maths right now. Probably because before the spring holidays I did a maths mock exam and got a really good grade so now I’m still kinda on a high from that I guess and don’t feel like working that hard (which isn’t a good state of mind to be in this close to exams). However I am not overly concerned because I go back to school on Monday and from then on I will be doing 4 hours of maths lessons a week as well as 4 hours of maths revision before and after school on top of what I am doing at home so hopefully that will be enough to get me through.

English – oh my gosh English is stressing me out SO MUCH. Mainly because the exam is in 5 weeks and I have noe clue what to do. We have only just started learning about our English Literature exam at school because we’ve spent the rest of the year focusing on English Language and our English Lit coursework. I know that the literature exam has two sections – one on unseen poetry and one on A View from the Bridge, which is the play I studied, but I have no idea how to actually answer the questions! The poetry question is worth 35 marks so is basically a mini-essay and we have been given this method of structuring our answers at school but I’m really struggling with it. Plus I have written about 5 practice answers for the poetry question and every time I have used a different structure (unintentionally, that’s just how it turned out) but because we had a mini swine flu epidemic in the South West last month, my teacher was off sick for ages and hasn’t had time to give me feedback, so I have no idea if what I am doing is right! As for the A View from the Bridge section, I have absolutely no clue whatsoever and that question is worth 40/45 marks so it’s more important! We haven’t practiced this question at all at school so all I can do revision-wise is re-read the play and note down key quotes (which I have done and still don’t feel prepared).

Science – surprisingly – as science is my worst subject – I am feeling pretty confident with science at the moment. For my science revision I highlight key facts in the revision guides, then put the facts on to a mind-map, then make flashcards with the facts on and answer the questions in the work book for each unit (of which there are 18 because I do triple science). It is a pretty time-consuming process as you can see but I feel like I have a pretty thorough approach to revising science and I really think layered revision is the key to doing well (although I have no idea why I don’t apply these techniques to other subjects). I do need to start using the flashcards more regualarly though but I tend to find them more effective as a kind of last-minute revision review for like the week before the exam so I can re-revise anything I have forgotten. Plus last night I actually dreamt about how metals conduct electiricty which is weird but it does prove my science reivison is working at least!

RE/RS – RE is actually my first exam so is the one that is in exactly one months time from today and I only started revising for it last week! However I find RE quite easy as there is hardly any content compared to other subjects, so therefore it doesn’t take that long to revise. I have actually revised half of RE already in just two weeks but I planned that so I could spend the rest of the time practice exam technique and questions. I am so thankful I have at least one subject that I don’t have to stress over!

French – I don’t really know how well French is going to be honest, I mean, since September we have been doing an exam per week in class and I was doing well in those exams before I even started revising. Apparently languages is my ‘natural talent’ which is probably why I enjoy French so much. For revision I am basically doing an online French course on Duolingo – the more words I learn, the better, right? I am 53% of the way through and by now I hoped to be more like 75% of the way through – I underestimated how time-consuming it would be basically. However I am still feeling fairly confident with French because I am still getting good grades in our weekly tests, so I must be doing something right.

Politics – politics is actually an AS Level not a GCSE because last year I took my Geography and History exams so had an extra 6 hours a week to fill, and hence ended up doing politics. I am really enjoying it but there is soooo much content to learn compared to GCSEs…I guess it is a good taster for what it will be like when I start college in September though. My politics revision is going ok-ish. I mean, I have made all the flashcards I need but I’m struggling to actually learn the flashcards – it takes like 3 hours to learn one topic (and there are six) and then I have to practice them everyday or else I forget. I have only learnt one topic so far and I’m going to try to learn another topic later so it’s less pressure for when I go back to school. The thing is with politics though, there are 8 topics in total and in each exam we are given questions on 4 of the topics and have to select two topics to actually answer. Therefore I decided to only revise 3 topics for each exam so if my favourite two topics have hard questions, I have a back up. But it’s been really hard to decide which topics not to revise and I feel like I’ve made the wrong choice but it’s too late now! Part of me wants to go and cram the other two topics because it doesn’t feel right not revising everything. Plus when I did the politics mock exam a few weeks back, I only revised two out of the four topics but ended up answering the topics I didn’t revise for, but still got an A!? So I’m a little confused about politics…

So that’s how my revision is going so far! I don’t really know what made me write this today, I guess it’s because revision is pretty much always on my mind. I don’t really know how active I’m going to be on my blog over the next few months. Hopefully I’ll still be posting a couple of times a week but I have no idea how well I’m going to cope with the stress of revising for like 3 hours a day as well as going to school or whether I’ll actually have time to get something decent typed up! So for now, good luck with your revision and exams everyone! 🙂

//It’s cool to know nothing//

 

In truth, we live in a society where young people are tested and examined at school on a regular basis. This system works well for some people but for others, the whole prospect of exams can seem daunting and unfair and pointless. For me, exams are a pain. I don’t like them, I don’t enjoy them, but I do accept that they exist and that the easy to deal with them is to work my hardest to achieve the best outcome I am capable of. Some people, however, criticise me for having this attitude towards education. Some would say that I’m a ‘sweat’ or a ‘try-hard’ and all sorts of things that have negative connotations and make me feel as if I should be embarrassed for trying my hardest and wanting the best. I’ve experienced this a lot over my five years of secondary school and even more since I started studying for my GCSEs in Year 9. It seemed whenever I received a good mark in a test, I would be looked down upon and almost felt socially excluded by my classmates just because I put all of my effort in to my school work. I was singled out as being different because I worked hard.

Usually I can deal with it, sure, it is an unpleasant feeling to be mocked because you are doing well in school but at the end of the day I should be happy with my results. The majority of the time, I am, but a few months ago I decided that I had had enough of being singled out for doing well so decided to relax a little and not put as much effort in. I stopped learning the French vocab every week just so I wouldn’t get full marks on the vocab test and would start getting more average marks. I stopped working so hard at maths because I was fed up of my friends constantly saying ‘oh you always get top marks’ and looking at me with almost disgust when they asked me what I got in my maths tests. I stopped trying hard in politics so that my teacher wouldn’t single me out anymore and call me an ‘inspiration’ for doing well at an AS Level a year early. I just stopped trying. Why? Because it’s cool to know nothing.

But is it really? Did I feel any better when I started getting  lower marks in tests? Did the mocking stop? Nope.

If anything, I felt worse. I have a natural desire to push myself to work hard and to do my best and in all honesty not doing this was causing me even more stress than working hard did!

So, I picked up my act and stopped trying to fit in. At the end of the day, it is my future, not theirs, so I can do whatever the heck I want with it. I still get teased and mocked for being smart and working hard occasionally but now I avoid telling people my grades and what marks I got in tests – it just makes it easier.

What I really wanted to talk about though, is what makes people mock those who try their best and want the best they can possibly do? Why do they feel the need to make others feel bad about getting good grades instead of the pride they should be feeling?

I, personally, think it is a way of rebelling against the pressures the adult world put on us. Against the countless exams and tests and ever-hardening curriculum. I think it is because they can’t accept that although school is getting tougher  and, perhaps, more unfair, it is still absolutely necessary to try your hardest and achieve your best in school, now more than ever. We are constantly being told that we need to do well at school and go to university and get a degree to get a good job and earn money. Perhaps some teenagers way of coping this pressure is to just ignore and pretend it is all a hoax adults are playing on us to make our lives a misery. Perhaps some see those who work hard as ‘fraternising with the enemy’ which is why they feel the need to mock and humiliate people who want to do well like me.

I know, I know – it’s in a teenager’s nature to be lazy – I am extremely lazy when I’m not at school – so perhaps some teenagers envy others ability to be able go push aside laziness and get their heads down when it comes to school work and revision.

I really do wish every teenager could have the motivation to work hard and try their best to achieve what they deserve. The thing is, motivation has to come from you. No one else can find the motivation for you. It makes me sad because some teenagers don’t find this motivation until it’s too late. Some of my classmates won’t.

In an ideal world, we would all be encouraged to work hard and instead of being singled out for putting in lots of effort or not enough effort like in today’s society, we would all be commended on our individual abilities. Would this create a basis for greater comparison and competition between student? Who knows…but the way the education system is viewed and reacted to by students in the present day has got to change, especially with the government increasing the frequency and difficulty of examinations.

Well…this was a bit of a ramble, wasn’t it? As you can tell my life revolves almost completely around school and exams right now so I struggle to find inspiration to write about other things!

Thank you for reading! 🙂