Around this time thousands of schoolchildren across the country are preparing to sit their GCSEs, with many having already sat some of them. This period is widely regarded as one of the most stressful periods before adulthood, to the extent that many people believe they should be delayed till children are older and can deal with the stress better. One of my fellow students agreed to an interview discussing this, however requested anonymity because, while he appreciated the relative small scale of the distribution, nonetheless, he did not want fellow pupils or, in fact teachers, to hear his opinions.
While holidays are generally a time for relaxation, this student admitted the Easter holidays were ‘worse than school, because it’s the same amount of work but when I should be chilling’. While school days typically last around 8 hours, actual lesson time is normally around 5 hours. This student estimated he is currently revising ‘around 6 hours, depending on if I have anything on that day’. This revision is of course only the latest in a marathon of preparation as this student revealed ‘I revised as much for my mocks over Christmas and have been making notes as I go along so I haven’t just left it till the last minute’. Many parents believe that the amount of revision that is expected is too much for children, who should be relaxing and having fun but the increasingly competitive nature of the job market and, more importantly, university applications has ensured schools try and ensure their students are revising as much as possible.
Exams can often have a negative effect on mental health and this student agrees ‘revising has been really hard, especially when I look at my siblings mucking about and wonder why I’m not, and if I’ll regret it if I screw up my exams’. The fear of failure is commonplace especially since, many students feel ‘what’s the point of revising if I don’t get a good grade’. While this type of anxiety has probably existed alongside exams as long as they’ve been part of the education system, the current generation are left wondering if it’s even worth it for a good grade. As this student notes ‘motivation has been hard sometimes, especially because you hear about  so many successful people who failed their exams and then about people with good grades who couldn’t get jobs’. The changing job market has left many pupils, and even schools, unsure of what skills are actually required to succeed in. Examples from Kim Kardashian to Richard Branson show good exam grades aren’t compulsory for business success but no one actually knows what is. This lack of knowledge has left many schoolchildren worried about what their working towards and if they’re working in the right way.