Hi there 👋😊👋
Long time, no see, well, blog 😅
Firstly: Wow, I’m incredibly terrible at keeping a blog 😅 I’m so sorry – probably my own fault for picking one of the worst school years to start one, whoops 😅
Secondly: Year 11 actually finished around 8 weeks ago for me. I guess I was using these past weeks to recover properly 😊 and that is a tiny white lie – I am also a bit of a procrastinator and have been trying to write this for the past three/four weeks. Oops. Hopefully, I will have published this at some point today. 😅
Thirdly: I realised that all the times I mentioned my school year, I failed to explain what that meant as I understand that not all countries have the same way of classing their year groups. Year 11, I believe, is grade 10 in the USA/Canada? (I could be wrong 😅) Um, Year 11 around the rest of the world, well, I’m sorry, I don’t really know – I’m quite intrigued to know now though so I’ll Google it as it’s what everybody does these days 😂 heh 😅
And now to the point!
The lovely subject for today/tonight/this early morning, is exam stress! Woo! Every student’s ‘favourite’ subject whether you are in middle school, secondary/high school, college or university.
I am a chronic worrier. I tend to worry when I have nothing to worry about (because I’m weird like that, I don’t really know why myself 🙆🙆🙆). I only started to really stress about my exams in Years 9 & 10 (possibly Grades 8 & 9 – please, feel free to correct me if I’m wrong 😊) and in those years, humongous waves of dread and worry for the future consumed me. What if I fail my GCSE’s? What if I don’t get the right grades in my subjects and they drop me to a lower set? What if I end up in a job I don’t like in the future because I failed my GCSE’s? Tons and tons of these kinds of questions were like weights, dragging me deeper and deeper into this sea of nervousness and I was finding that I was struggling to get out – probably because I’m a terrible swimmer but, you know, I held my breath in the hopes that a sun would appear to evaporate all my worries and fears.
A sun never really appeared for long enough so there I remained submerged in all of those terrifying thoughts and questions. I would be nervous a tiny bit before hand and be anxious a tiny bit afterwards but that was it really. Until one set of mock exams in year 10 (grade 9?) where I panicked like nobody’s business. I was sat with my friends in our English class and our teacher had decided to give us some time to revise for our science exam in the lesson. Thinking back to that moment, I remember that I was feeling sick because I had a cold but I also recall looking up briefly at everyone else. Some people weren’t revising, others were and I can’t remember exactly what happened but I just started to cry and I had this crushing feeling in my chest and it was all a bit of a blur but I do remember that it was one of the most horrible feelings in my life. It was almost as if a part of my mind had decided I would fail before I had even done the exam and another part of my mind was simply struggling to cope with the idea (haha, me, fear failing? You’re probably right 🙆). Long story, short – my teacher took me outside to talk and by the end of it, she had decided that I would go into a room (rather than the sports hall) for my exam (I’ll probably touch on ‘rooms’ in another post if anyone’s interested).
And I remained in those rooms forever more however I don’t think I should have. In fact, for the following mock exams we had throughout the year, being in a room stressed me out more. More fearful questions plagued my mind: what if people were judging me for being in a room? What if I won’t be able to go into a room for my real GCSE’s? What if I forget which room I’m going to? What if, what if, what if… they simply wouldn’t stop. I kept it to myself for the most part though because anxiety is a human emotion that everyone feels sometimes (some people have it worse and feel it more intensely, I understand that – I have no intentions of offending anybody with any type of mental health problem, I’m so sorry if I did, it wasn’t my intention at all 😅).
I really did try to stay optimistic but it was almost as though the good thoughts were hidden behind a thick fog of negative thoughts. I panicked again on another night when my mum and I were driving home from a parents evening. Again it was the similar tight feeling and the suffocating feeling of dread for the future that tried to squeeze the life out of me but because my mum is simply the best, she reassured me and my panicking seemed to come to an end after I was honest to her.
The actual exams themselves (all 18 of them 😥) went alright apart from the first and the last exam where I had a bit of a panic. In general, to calm down, I find that talking to someone really helps me. It was hard to be honest at first about my fears but after I got them off my chest I was a lot calmer.
Obviously, talking about it doesn’t help everyone so I researched a few more ways that can help one deal with exam stress too:
– As hard as it may be, organise yourself: whilst I wasn’t able to organise myself all the time, I know friends who found that creating a revision time table helped them a lot in the run up to the exams. Having a schedule to stick to reassured them as they had worked 20-30 minute revision sessions into their evenings or mornings (or often both) in the weeks before the exams. They made sure they had enough time to revise everything. Also, if you tend to be the kind of person to make revision cards, I find that starting to make cards for the last exam on the list and working your way to the first exam helps. Mainly because you then know that you have everything else ready and you would then be able to focus on the first exam without panicking too much about the others.
– Excercise a bit, as stressful as you think it might be for distracting you from revision: taking walks during your breaks can help you clear your head so you are then able to go back and face a revision guide with a fresh eyes. Allowing your brain a break from the work should also help you retain more information. Or you could go for run (if you’re into that kind of thing) or you could simply go and play another favourite sport. That way, not only will you be giving your mind mind a chance to process everything but you will also be having fun and remaining healthy whilst doing so. I would go on bike rides with my dad and little brother when I was revising on weekends or I would practice my katas that I had learnt in karate. 😊
– Maybe meditate? Practice a bit of mindfulness: If you have frequent break downs about your exams and you haven’t yet tried this then I really do recommend it. Whilst it doesn’t help everyone, it can help some of you. Being aware of your thoughts and the paths they take, whether they be negative or positive, is always good to acknowledge. If you start having a rather horrible thought process you can try to think if something else (puppies, kittens, rainbows, sleep 😅). A few of your favourite things should do the trick (love a musical reference 😁). Or simply talk to someone else about it if you don’t find that thinking positive before you go too far into the negative works.
– Make sure you go to bed at a decent time: You need rest! Your brain will also be able to process everything you’ve learned/revised from the day. Also, you don’t want to be falling asleep during the exam (I almost did in a mock exam once 😨). On a serious note though, don’t stay up all night revising because rest helps too.
– And finally, the most important one to me is remember that if you don’t get the grades you wanted, it’s not the end of the world: This is a big one for me as this is the point that kept me calm for a majority of my real exams. During the holidays, I’ve met up with friends and have asked them how they are and what they are going to do: one friend didn’t even complete all of her GCSE’s but she is still getting into college. I know some people who are trying to get apprenticeships, some who are still looking to get into the armed forces. Some schools/colleges/sixth forms even let you re-do your English and Maths exams whilst you work on the subjects you chose. Exams may not go how you want them to go but it’s also important to think about which subjects should be your priority. A majority of the careers I want to pursue surround English – if they surround English, then why am I worried about getting an amazing (yet probably highly unlikely 😅) B? I mean, of course I want to do well but I don’t really need it. Therefore, it’s not the end of the world if I don’t. ☺
There is a life after GCSE’s, don’t worry. 😄
– Jade 😊