The wait and arrival of my GCSE results
In the months following examinations, and the days leading up to that ominous date, 23 August, entitled ‘Results Day’, there seems to be a constant reminder that GCSEs ‘mean nothing’ in the greater scheme of things by those at university or finishing their A-levels.
However, this doesn’t prevent the lack of sleep, natural nervousness and persistent doubts that infect minds with incertitude as to exactly how one phrased the answer to Question 1a in Biology, or if they included the requested number of decimals in Question 14c in Mathematics.
Fine, in the ‘greater scheme of things’- A-levels, universities, CVs- they may mean very little. However, due to the hours spent toiling over a desk and repeating phrases like a broken record, if my predicted grades weren’t fulfilled, there would only be bitter, ashamed disappointment.
For some strange reason, exam boards are incapable of coordinating the release of results, so by the 10th of August, the most important had been determined: English Literature (and Language, but whatever). Now, without arrogance or any presumption, if I was guaranteed any A* it ought to be there – and I can assure you, the word ‘guarantee’ should not be used at all in regards to any public exam.
Due to a slightly worrying fanaticism, an unnecessary quantity of time devoted to quotes, and a relatively successful exam (I didn’t collapse in convulsions, vomit, cry or lose control of my excretive functions) when I saw the A*, I was satisfied. Fortunately this went for Language too, one of my ‘uncertains’.
Six days later came Additional Maths, what they call a ‘Free Standing Qualification’ that lies, in terms of value, between a GCSE and AS grade. When I say I expected a C (the top grade being an A) that is not faux-modesty or self-consciousness, but the genuine truth. Upon coming out of that exam-hall, I immediately cast the exam aside for three reasons. Firstly, it went horrendously. Secondly, it was Maths. Thirdly, it wasn’t a GCSE.
So though in the weeks preceding Results Day I didn’t forget it, by far it meant the least, and I prayed for a B. Begged, really. Nonetheless, 16 August was also A-level Results Day, when my sister collected ridiculously good grades, and despite bursting out laughing in total shock and joy at an A, I was ignored mostly. Though it certainly instilled a dangerous confidence for GCSE Maths and Drama- more ‘uncertains’.
With a horribly confusing ambivalence raging within, in which I fluctuated between confidence and patience, and pessimism and restlessness (that extended to nightmares about teachers muttering that cruel phrase: ‘I’m not angry, I’m disappointed’), the moment closed in. Part of my need to succeed my predictions is tethered to being a perfectionist, partly to beat my siblings’ results, partly, I admit, that of my friends, partly to ensure the two years of work weren’t wasted, and partly to at least mention it on my CV.
When I awoke this morning, I was again pleasantly surprised by an A* in Maths, and astounded, completely dazed, by an A* in Drama, due to its high grade boundary and my lack of acting skills (the written coursework was what did it- and marginally too). For the next hour, I sat refreshing my email feed and school results page, unable to go to my school like most to collect, in that I’m in another country- meaning no glorious, Bacchic celebrations tonight.
Upon a phone call to a friend about her results, in which a ridiculous set of results only amplified my fear, an email arrived – whilst I was far within the impatient, uncertain realm of ambivalence. After a long pause, I opened it to reveal A*s in my remaining subjects- some being scrapped, and trust me, I mean scrapped- and enjoyed a slightly anti-climactic moment in which I fulfilled my predictions. If you’re not a perfectionist you won’t get it, but an A or B would trigger disappointment, yet an individual A* resulted in only approval. Overall however, I’m completely over the moon.
Elsewhere, As may be rejoiced, and Cs mean one hasn’t entered their school sixth form, though personally I only care whether or not one is pleased with their results, not what they consist of, as standards vary- mine are too high. Silence followed, and I was glad not to be amongst the flood of teens in our school hall, craning over each others, and demanding, in that hot, stuffy room, one’s results or clawing greedily at the piece of paper that only partly determines your future.
If you’ve read any of my other articles over the last week, you may have gathered I despise grade inflation, and working to mark schemes. If I’m capable of straight A*s then something is definitely wrong. Nevertheless, I wasn’t going to risk my English by attempting a unique short story, or endanger my Biology by not learning the appropriate phrases.
It wouldn’t have been worth the rebellion, and the reason I despise it is predominately due to the fact you must conform to it, or else suffer poor marks. In a sense I feel my results were nothing to do with intelligence, or my opinions, just hard work towards learning to exams. So that’s that. I’m the result of spoon-feeding, a great deal of hard work, very little natural intelligence, and learning to exams – I won’t deny it. Having said that, miracles were worked if I got an A in Additional Maths.Tagged in: A-levels, education, GCSE results, Results day, school
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