Teenage years are blighted by exam stress

Hard at work for your exams?

Hard at work for your exams?

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It’s almost exam season – and you know what that means – some pompous old windbag will turn up on the television saying how GCSEs are a doddle and “They’re not as hard as they were in my day.”

Is it just me, or when you hear such drivel, do you get the overwhelming urge to punch them very hard in the throat?

Exams were brought into sharp focus last week when daughter #1 sat her mock GCSEs, basically a dress rehearsal for the real thing in May and June.

She works pretty hard at school, always does her homework, revised solidly for a long time and did past papers like they were going out of fashion.

Going into the exams she was quietly confident. Then reality hit her like an unexpected tax demand.

These papers are hard. Nothing is given away for free. Every mark you score you have to earn. Doing old exam papers in your bedroom is a lot different to sitting in a big hall in neat rows with the clock ticking.

If, like me, you clung on tight to the education system for as long as humanly possible in an effort to put off doing real work for as long as you could then you’re going to end up sitting a lot of exams.

There is a technique to doing better than you deserve to, of grinding out that extra five per cent which could mean you get the grade you need so you never have to think about the stupid subject ever again – hello maths, physics and chemistry!

And the magic formula is this. Do the work, revise properly but don’t go mad, get plenty of sleep and eat baked beans on wholemeal toast for breakfast on the morning of the exam.

Never fails. Oh, and don’t take it too seriously. This isn’t life or death, if you cock it up you can always appeal and even resit the thing if necessary.

And anyway, exams are a load of old balls. If successive governments weren’t so obsessed with relentlessly testing kids from the age of four, maybe teachers could concentrate on teaching them about the subject rather than training them to pass some stupid exam.

Then they might actually enjoy learning, as opposed to having their teenage years blighted by stress.