With A level results day fast approaching, I can’t help but be relieved that it’s not me who will be receiving that piece of paper on Thursday.
Receiving my A2 results felt like the moment that would dictate the rest of my life. If I missed my marks, I was destined to continue to fail and would never even be able to move out of my parents’ house. Despite the fact that I didn’t even have a university offer (I didn’t apply in year 12 like most people), I had set myself targets, and sometimes that can be worse.
There is too much value tagged onto exam results. Yes, they matter. No, they’re not everything. I know so many people who have either left school straight after GCSEs, or just didn’t get great A Level results, who are living an enviable life.
So why are the majority of us convinced that our happiness and success relies solely on a letter of the alphabet? What gives that letter value?
Even children as young as 9, sitting their SATs, punish themselves, slaving for hours over revision. What are they even revising?! When I was in year six, I still got handwriting homework and worried about whether I’d fed my tamagotchi that morning.
And there is little to no positive outcome from constantly burdening yourself with unnecessary stress.
Stress causes your body to release the hormones adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones prepare your body for dangerous situations, such as fleeing the attack of a hippo. So when they’re pumping around and not needed, they have a negative impact on its normal functioning. They effect your blood glucose, your heart rate, your lung function and so so much more.
And that’s not including the amount of psychological damage this can inflict upon kids. The endless pressure to do your best, actually no, to BE the best, is crippling. We have to accept that everyone has different abilities and whilst yours might not be maths, English, or something else being tested in these exams, you DO have a strength. Whether it be art, communication, acting, cooking, hairdressing….. There are so many abilities that seem worthless, because they aren’t tested and awarded with that little letter of the alphabet.
So, although I recognise the importance of exams, I am also aware of their negative side effects. Something needs to be done to change their format or content, so we can remind every child that they have talent, and that they are valuable.