I’m literally weeks away from sitting my first GCSE exam. I should probably be revising but instead, I’m sat writing this.
Here’s Part I of The Last Year.
Year 11 is tough. We all know that much. It’s your last year of school before you go off into the world. It’s the last year of being seen as a child. It’s the last year you have with the people you dislike most. It’s the last year you’ll be lectured about your GCSE exams (hopefully).
I was one of ‘those’ kids who was never taught how to revise because I was already deemed ‘smart enough’. I was frequently told I was ‘gifted’, ‘talented’ and ‘very intelligent for [my age]’. Now, with my last year of school upon me, I’m stuck. I don’t know what I need to do to revise and help myself get the grades I want and desperately need for my future.
Not knowing how to revise isn’t my only problem…
This whole build up to exams has gone way beyond just how to revise. It’s when. Some of us are in school from 8am until 5pm (sometimes even 6pm) almost every single day but school still expect us to do 4 hours worth of revision when we get home and still be able to function properly. It’s gotten to the point where most of us only go home to have a half decent meal and a few hours sleep.
My school attempt to motivate us but it comes out in such a toxic way. They tell us not to panic and become stressed then carelessly ‘remind’ us that it’s only 18 lessons until Maths Paper 1 like we didn’t know already. They choke us with all these statistics and tell us we should be doing at least three to four hours revision once we get home or else we’ll never get anywhere in life. They don’t seem to understand that standardised testing isn’t effective. It doesn’t work for all of us. Some of us couldn’t care less whether John Steinbeck wrote Of Mice and Men (an absolutely awful book which could send anybody to sleep in a matter of minutes.) or he wrote the dictionary and the Bible.
My fellow pupils try to encourage me. It’s almost like a competition to find who is has done the most revision – “I did seven hours on SAM Learning yesterday and I got 100% in them all!!” – or the most stressed – “Well, Georgia, you can’t say anything!! You’ve only cried twice this week while I’ve cried every night for a fortnight!!” I know how much revision is good for me. Some people will only need to do an hour of revision a night while some will have to sacrifice almost every aspect of their non-school life to get their ‘attainment’ grade. I’m not saying don’t support your friends, I’m saying not to compare your revision – whether it be techniques or time spent – to theirs. It’s harmful to their motivation and may even increase their stress levels even more
My parents try to motivate me too. They tell me to ‘do my best’ but what if my best isn’t good enough for AQA’s Biology Unit 3 exam? They tell me that these exams will shape the rest of my life and that they’re only for the next month or so to which I reply with ‘Yes, I understand.’ They tell me about how it ‘wasn’t like this in [their] day!’ which is not only patronising as fuck, it makes you feel like your emotions/feeling are invalid because you don’t feel the same they did however many years ago.
My family try to motivate me by telling me about what they got at GCSE level. But the truth is, I don’t want to be like some members of my family who got all A*s, have Master’s Degrees etc. but are so smart that you can’t even have an ordinary conversation with them – It’s almost like they’re saying facilitated diffusion or fuck off.
I understand, GCSEs get you places. They get you into University. They get you into your ‘dream’ occupation. They make your life worth living. They get you the income you want. They do this. They do that. Blah, blah, blah…
This is a little contradictory but as long as you are in the right positive frame of mind, you will do well. You know your own strengths and weaknesses. Whatever grades you come out with won’t define you if you don’t want them to.