After that cathartic and weirdly contemplative post I wrote yesterday, I had time to calm down and think. How did my exams really go? I wrote that they went from ” alright to soul crushingly terrible in a pit of fire” and whilst that may be true, I wanted to write about them in a more constructive way. So, for your viewing… Horror, here is how my exams went: Elm style.
Psychology, Paper 1
It’s your AS content, they said. It’d be easy, they said. (not really, I’m just trying to make people pity me.) Being my first exam, I naturally started to feel nervous as soon as I left the house; it only increased before I got to school. Before an exam, I do this thing where I frantically revise until literally no more information could go in. Content-wise, I didn’t really need to do that because excluding one other exam, this was the one I was most prepared for.
The exam itself would have gone okay. I had to draw a graph at one point; some of the applying questions were disgusting but I vaguely knew what I was doing. Except, oh dear, I missed out an entire 9 marks worth of questions. How???!!! How the hell did I do that? I wrote about that content in one of the essays! Was I just half asleep or something? I have no idea. When I got out of that exam, I began my yearly wail on Twitter and that was when I found out. Honestly, I still don’t think I’m over it. Apart from that, there weren’t any terrible mishaps (although now I say that, I bet I’ve done something really foolish).
History, Paper 1
In shock, I came out of that exam feeling okay. I hadn’t done anything that warranted a shouting tournament with myself on twitter and unlike last year, no one from my school had liked one of my “I’m going to fail this exam” Tweets. The questions were… Okay – at least the essays; I actually had content for them. The interpretations questions weren’t as good but I had wildly revised the exam technique before. It was bearable. “Two down,” I thought. “I can do this.”
English, Paper 1
This one certainly wasn’t awful: the question on Jane Eyre was wonderful and the Othello question made me nearly shriek with happiness in the exam. The unseen poetry was the worst simply because I misinterpreted it. Maybe they’ll give me marks for technique?? Ah shit. I don’t want to be quick to say it went ‘well’, because I did that last year and this was the exam that pushed my grade down. I emailed my english teacher, who has been a genuine role model for me, to let her know it hadn’t gone too badly. For this one, I’d prepared and the practice essays – sorry, the one essay I did, went as well as I wanted it to. All in all? Not awful.
Psychology, Paper 2
It was on Friday of the first week of exams that I realised I hated Maths, Graphs, pie charts and all research methods. I fucked up this paper. I’m almost completely blind so I get extra time for exams and this time, I used all of it. Part of it was because I was drawing a graph but most of it was because I was trying to hold back tears. It’s really hard to estimate values in a pie chart and to understand the worst diagram I’ve ever seen and my mind went blank. Despite revising the day before, I screwed up a question on content analysis; I just lost my thought processes completely. This wasn’t even the worst exam because there were moments where I felt confident, if you can call it that.
English, Paper 2
You know how I just said that Psychology Paper 2 wasn’t the worst one? That’s because by far, this one was. Having had the weekend to revise and calm down, I thought it’d be okay and I’d prepared even more for this one than I had for the other english. On the morning of the exam, my family and I had had a massive argument and though it didn’t affect my performance, it put me in a terrible mood which, after the exam, came back full force.
The Handmaid’s Tale question was honestly beautiful because I had done almost exactly that question in a revision session and so I felt confident with it. What was awful was unseen prose as I could barely structure my answer and because it was on the same theme, the Streetcar and poetry question; I’d never prepared ‘conflict’ as a theme properly before. I was so upset coming out of it because I’d spent so long doing prep for it and I panicked in the middle of it. Luckily, it didn’t screw up my confidence but it made me feel so shit about myself. There may be nothing I can do about it now but it doesn’t stop the disappointment from affecting me.
History, Paper 2
MY NAME IS, MY NAME IS, MY NAME IS CHARLES THE SECOND – and before you ask, yes, I had that song going through my head on repeat during the exam. If you haven’t heard it, listen to it because it’s amazing.
After the crap that was English, I set to work again. I’d spent so, so long preparing for this exam and it paid off, finally. Even if the source question was really difficult, the essays were good because our teacher had gone through almost identical ones in class before. At one point I really did shriek “YES!” when I saw the question that I’d been revising the night before. It made my confidence climb slowly back up.
Just as I was about to go home, my history teacher found me. When I told her about the questions, I’ve never seen anyone so happpy and so relieved that they were questions which people had prepared for. It was so odd to finally be done with those topics; I’d spent a long while understanding them, so much so that I missed thinking about them when I had to move onto the next exam.
Psychology, Paper 3
Oh, fucking hell. The night before this exam, I realised that I knew very little and that I was the least prepared for this exam out of all of them. In the middle of running over concepts, I started crying, the only thing stopping me from utterly losing control being the conversation I’d had with my friend Robin which reassured me on one topic. For the others, I was a mess and the crying quickly transformed from sobbing over this exam to sobbing over the fact that I’d been suppressing all my unhappiness, trying to be so stably-stable and it was all catching up with me.
Consequently, I got very little sleep and had to wake up at 6 the following morning. Once again, I was revising before the exam, my whole body shaking. However, the exam itself didn’t go as awfully as I thought. It was really upsetting but I got through it; I remember freaking out over more maths content but then feeling this triumphant happiness in my chest as I got to the last question.
When exams themselves were over, because I word process (type), I had to sign all the pages on one of the copies of the exam. I’d forgotten how exhausting writing could be; I honestly can’t stand it. Because I don’t write in ‘print’ normally (I write in braille), I have to individually think about the letters when I’m writing them. As soon as I wrote my last signature, I felt weird – relieved, but it was almost anticlimactic. I was done and well, that was that.
All in all, they didn’t go as badly as I expected. I’m just trying to forget them now, as much as I can. Maybe relaxing, writing and living is the key to doing that. I managed it, somehow.
If you’re still doing exams, whether that be GCSEs or A-Levels, there isn’t long to go. You can do this. You’ve got through the majority of your exams already and you should be proud of yourself for that. The exam mountain isn’t unscalable.
Good luck, everyone. How’re you feeling about exams?
From Elm 🙂