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It is time to hush up the fear of exams and envelopes

November 24, 2016 23:06

Envelopes still make me anxious.

Eight years may have passed since I sat my A-Levels – but believe me, the foreboding still festers.

I feel it as summertime beckons and April showers slip into the month of May, bringing with it the haunting flashback of devising revision timetables and committing myself to life chez library.

Months later, I sense it again when the countdown quickens and results day snakes its way forward. “Chill, girl,” my inner monologue tries to placate. “You got your marks years ago. You’re very old.”

“You call that placating?” I inwardly hiss. Besides, I know all that. But the nerves still simmer.

Most recently, the murmuring recollection of examination panic has returned – thanks, in no small measure, to my job as JC education editor.

Visiting schools last Thursday for A-Level results, and this week again for GCSEs (I do hope to see you there) was and will be enjoyable. I like meeting students, parents and teachers and sharing in their successes. But oh! That persistent echo of fear. It strikes in the gut and whispers up the spine. It never really goes, instead lying dormant and covert.

In pictures: A Level results day 2015

You think it has finally snuffed out. But then, mention essay questions in my presence; drop the notion of grade boundaries into conversation; heck, hand me a birthday card in a brown paper envelope, and prepare for the residual panic, torment, tears and tantrums to thunder right into the here and now.

Or maybe not. Maybe, finally, the terror has abated. Maybe that undercurrent is just a shadow – a nostalgic gloom that, in actual fact, holds no substance whatsoever. I can fear it, or I can see it for what it is: absolutely nothing.

After all, and this I promise, your exams finally do come to a welcome end. Their reign of terror that peppers our teenage years – and bellows well into university life – is finally vanquished with the onset of adulthood.



Yes, we have responsibilities to uphold, deadlines to keep and bills to pay. But, I assure you, it is unlikely you will ever face such pressure again. Life between the ages of 15 and 18 is tough as it is; throw in the burden of national exams, and the weight can be crushing.

But ultimately, happily, this too shall pass. One day soon, the butterflies will migrate. There may be echoes, pangs of fear, but they are weak and unfounded. No match here.

So stride into school on Thursday with heads held high – ready to claim your results and, with them, kick-start your next chapter. I’ll be cheering from the sidelines.

But please, oh please, wave no envelopes in my direction.

November 24, 2016 23:06

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