Two years ago today, I started my A Levels. I went in confident, knowing I was prepared for any questions those papers may ask. I was wrong, those questions were unkind, took me by surprise and shook the way my grades turned out.
I knew throughout that whole summer, that I hadn’t got the grades I wanted. I already had an unconditional offer at University through an interview and portfolio, so I didn’t need to worry about University but I was still gutted because good grades became my confidence. They were my thing. When I was bullied in High School, I spent the first three years not actually going because I was afraid, but when my GCSES came up I buckled down and got fantastic grades, and it gave me an actual self esteem I didn’t have before.
Doing A Levels was the only option I wanted, and I enjoyed them. I had fantastic teachers, brilliant subjects (Media Studies, Film Studies and Sociology) and my grades were always great for mock exams and coursework. I averaged out at B/C which was fine, that was my ideal at A Level. But I did want to achieve the best grades possible when it came to the end result, so I spent weeks revising. I would do it during my weekend work breaks too, as I was working to save money for University. Soon, my bedroom became covered in flash cards and revision posters, but I felt confident that I could conquer this. After my last Sociology exam I just wanted to get into a hole and cry, it didn’t feel right. I felt betrayed by a subject I had adored, and I felt like whatever grade I had got didn’t justify the knowledge I had, and the amount that subject had lead me to mature.
When I opened that envelope on Results Day, I wasn’t surprised but I was still disapointed. I felt like my self esteem had gone, that I was just average, that I didn’t deserve my University space. Every time I looked at that piece of paper, I just felt uneasy. I would bore family members ranting about globalised crime, how religion is the opium of the people and I would spend weekend nights watching documentaries related to these subjects. I would educate my grandparents on News Values whilst they watched ITV Central, but that was a topic that never came up in the exam.
Even now, two years later, I am grateful for the modules I did at A Level in each subject because I feel each thing I learn is a new opportunity for growth, and I did grow with these subjects. Sure, I didn’t get an A or full marks on my paper or record, but I did learn what I wanted to do with my life and those subjects helped me make a badass portfolio which encouraged me to get my University place.
Education has become warped in the past few years or so, to the point many people suffer with mental health issues. It’s become a race to get into University or apprenticeships and neglects to take care of the student first. You are more than your grades, you will achieve more than what your grades say you can. A percentage or score does not represent you as a person, or tell you how your life will go on.
For every thing you do in life, there will always be a block that prevents you. But your results will not be those things, when you believe it, you will achieve it. Good grades, or bad grades.
Good luck to everybody sitting their exams.