For thousands of students, that dreaded time has come around again. Whether you’re tackling your 20-odd GCSEs, A-Levels or Uni, exam season can be a really tough time of the year.
In this post I’m going to be focusing on GCSEs and A-Levels, seen as they’re the only ones I’ve experienced myself.
As we go through school and college, we’re fed a message that our exam results are *the* most important thing in the world. And however much schools may argue that this isn’t what happens, when you’re in that position, it certainly feels that way.
We’re taught that we must do well in our GCSEs in order to get onto A-Levels and then we must do well in our A-Levels in order to get into Uni. It can feel like there is one smooth path in life we must take and if we don’t, we’re doing it wrong (GCSE —> A-Level —> Uni —> Job).
Well I’m here to tell you to stop listening to this bullshit!
Now I’m not saying don’t revise and work hard for your grades, but I want you to know that you don’t have to take that exact picture-perfect path in order to be successful.
I know that because I’ve come full circle.
At school, I believed it all. I believed that you aced your GCSEs, aced your A-Levels first time and went to Uni at 18 and aced that and that was the only route to getting a good job.
In an ideal world, how great would that be? But for many of us, this isn’t an ideal world, and life gets in the way.
And that is absolutely fine.
For me, this fairytale I had been fed started going wrong somewhere during the first year of sixth form. Juggling A-Levels with mental health issues and caring responsibilities was taking its toll, and I failed to achieve what I wanted.
It was what I’d dreaded for years, but as soon as it actually happened, I had a sudden realisation. It actually wasn’t that bad at all. There were options.
So just know that everyone’s path is personal and influenced by all the complicated factors in our own lives, and you don’t have to be the robotic model student we’re taught to be.
It’s ok to fail, it’s ok to not do as well as you’d hoped, and there is always a way around it.
Take it from the girl who smashed her GCSEs, failed her A-Levels then passed her A-Levels, applied for Uni 3 times, went to Uni once and is now starting another course.
Take it from the girl who took the least conventional, longest route and in doing so has learnt a great deal, and who has grown into a happy person who isn’t afraid to make her own decisions.
So if you’re in the middle of your exams right now, go in and do your best. But also be comforted in knowing that whatever happens, there is always a way to move forward and you will get to where you want to be.
Don’t let anyone pressure you into thinking there is only one desired route into a career. Do things your way, learn from your mistakes, keep pushing and know that that’s all you can do.