How My Exams Went, According To Me

In my school, we still do AS Levels despite most of them not counting for anything. If you don’t know, AS Levels are exams you do in your first year of A-Levels which used to count for 50% of your A-Level results – we take the rest of the exams next year and they are what (usually) count towards getting into university.

Mine started on 15 May and ended on 26 May; I had 8 in total after dropping French earlier this year. Unlike for my GCSEs, I’ll write down my reactions to them because after my exams before, I was tired and preoccupied with my emotions going haywire. Take everything I say with a pinch of salt because I’m notorious at underestimating myself and thinking I’ve failed at literally everything you could possibly fail at.

Before pretty much every exam, I looked at the hashtags on my Twitter (shameless self-promotion I’m sorry) and tweeted under some of them. That proved to be… Rather catastrophic at one point, as you’ll read later.

Psychology Paper 1

I honestly don’t think this one went too badly: it was my first one so I was shit scared but apart from a bullshit 8 marker, it wasn’t awful. For me, the main thing that made me laugh in these exams was the jokes afterwards and also the fact that they did a last year’s AQA biology-type thing and shoved a bunch of Research Methods questions in the topic of memory. It wasn’t quite B1 though because it was actually relevant. I do think that I rambled in my answers a bit but it can’t be helped; I don’t think I’ll do terribly on this one though so that’s a relief.

History Paper 1

Oh, no, nooooo! After this finished, I attempted to expunge it from my memory with limited success. Long story short, I hated it and you know what the worst part was?

Before the exam itself, I had tweeted under the hashtag with something vaguely funny or just despairing. Some people liked it – I don’t know who they were – and I was just calmly scrolling through my notifications when my brain came to a screeching halt. Somebody from my school had liked it. From my school and not just any person, no. Possibly the worst person to like it: the person I used to sit next to in history. Just have a look at this page. It took me a while to recover from my panic at the thought of him finding my blog and taking the piss out of me for years. That’ll teach me to post under topic I know not many people do.

Anyhow, I walked into the exam and thought “Oh shit, I haven’t done enough revision,” an observation which proved to be true. The extract question was an utter bastard although everyone found that difficult; the two topics I didn’t want to come up came up on the essay question. I have extra time because I’m almost completely blind and because of that, I rambled a fair bit and started panicking. That’s never a good sign when you’re attempting to write coherently. By the end of it, I was shaking and walked out of the room feeling unconfident.

Critical Thinking Paper 1

Before you ask, I had no choice but to do this subject. Originally, I was going to do Extended Project Qualification ( EPQ), a 5000 dissertation-style project and those who wanted to do that had to also do Critical Thinking. I did the barest amount of revision for it because in this type of exam, you can’t really revise; it’s skill-based.

This was the first exam I genuinely laughed in. The people included a Fitbit employee, some kind of Road Safety Forum user and I can no longer think of Wearable technologies like Smartwatches the same way again without getting angry. This exam was all about components of an argument and credibility with an essay question at the end and unlike with any other of my exams, I got so tired of it all that I dread to think of what the examiner will think of me when they read my sarcastic responses.

I’ve either mildly passed this or failed horribly. I’m not really inclined to care; universities don’t take this subject into account normally but I still did try what I assume is my best. The skills I got are still important, even if unis don’st care, kind of showing that exams shouldn’t just be about getting into university.

English Paper 1

I could have married this paper; it was the brief respite from panic I needed. All year, I’d been preparing for this and I think – maybe, possibly, potentially – it payed off? We studied Othello and 15 poems and both the questions were glorious things. On later inspection, it turns out that I did the opposite interpretation to the Othello question that literally everyone did. I panicked about that and barely told anyone, pretending I’d done what everyone else had. I convinced myself I’d failed but after deliberation, there’s nothing I can do. Yes, I might not have done as well in it but when you think that, my best advice to it would be move onto the next one. You can’t change things and I know it’s hard but I assure you, you will have done well for you no matter what grade you get.

I loved the poetry question, too. It was on my favourite poem and I may or may not have squealed when it came up – luckily I’m in a room with one invigilator and so they didn’t care, otherwise I would have got weird looks that I wouldn’t be able to see anyway. I wrote confidently although I do think I lost my way a bit because I got confused. That’s nothing out of the ordinary though and at least I knew I passed.

Psychology Paper 2

Oh, Psychology, will you marry me? Please? I don’t want to be alone… Okay fine then, you won’t? Typical.

As you can tell, this paper was good. Probably. I don’t want to jinx it; I’m always scared that if I sing praises for myself, I may be horribly disappointed. On the other hand, I won’t sell myself short: this paper went well. The Research Methods questions – which had no elements of Memory in them – were so straightforward I could have cried and the only tricky part of it was the Application Questions, which never fill me with confidence at the best of times. Also, the exam hilarity on Twitter was just as great as last time. I live for it – okay no; that’s sad.

History Paper 2

My history teacher is a beautiful human being – both of them are. Before the first exam, the teacher who taught the unit for the second exam came and chatted to me. I emailed both teachers after the exams had finished to let them know how they went, not exposing my lack of confidence for fear that they’d feel like they hadn’t covered the material enough (they had; I’m just a fool).

Despite the relative pain of my first exam, the second wasn’t as bad: it was like its antithesis. The topics that I adored came up; I could answer the Source question quite simply although I spent ages on it. I think that my higher understanding and better preparation for this made it more bearable because I’m famous for my screaming rants of “I’m NOT PREPARED HELP ME!” As much as it went quite well, I’m still internally sobbing for lack of direction in the essay but I’m going to pretend that it didn’t exist and move on with my life. That’s always how I seem to deal with my problems… Oops.

English Paper 2

“Why?” I screamed, eyes wild with fury. “After the success of the first paper, I thought-” My voice broke as I took a steadying breath. “I thought that maybe it would go as well! No! O, the pity of it!”

This really didn’t go as well as I wanted it to and I think it was the main disappointment of my exams. That sounded awful but we’d had less time to prepare: it was a coparitive essay between Jane Eyre and The Great Gatsby, in addition to a piece of unseen prose. My English teacher for these units is the best thing ever; she really lit up my enthusiasm for the novels and context of them. Even so, I felt vastly underprepared, much more so than my history.

Parts of it went well, such as the essay on comparisons which I had basically planned a few days ago. I laughed in this exam, too, because I couldn’t get over my good fortune. The unseen prose itself contained such beautiful writing – it was from Sons and Lovers by DH Lawrence. The issue wasn’t the subject matter or the words and structure. It was my organisation of ideas: I screwed up. I rambled. I ranted. I was the model of what one may term “not coming up with a relevant point and spouting crap”. Am I being overdramatic? Hahaha, no way; where would you get that impression from?

Critical Thinking, Paper 2

This was the most ridiculous and hilarious paper I think I’d ever come across, mainly because I actually found it alright. The arguments themselves were brilliant in their illogical nature: one of them proposed a ban on speeding points you get on your license because crimes were “adding up” with no punishment. The large argument in the Resource Booklet said at one point that decisions should be left up to the experts because in a democracy, people expected the government to make decisions for them. Again, I laughed. Not because it was funny but because I knew I’d have to analyse it.

When we wrote our own arguments, on the subject of “there will always be crime”, I went on a ranting commentary about today’s society and how as long as there are people, there will always be crime… I don’t know. I was sensing my freedom and wanted to put my own, erm, unique spin on things. Like the first paper, I’ve passed or miserably failed; I’ll be annoyed if it was the latter because I really tried in that paper. I hope the examiner, at least, gets a laugh out of my exasperated analysis an analogy.

All in all, exams weren’t that bad. I definitely didn’t try as hard as I could and should have but there’s nothing I can do about that now. I need to remember that pretty much all year, I’ve been feeling miserable and though that’s not an excuse, it contributed to my lack of motivation to revise or do anything much”

If you have exams to go or have done them, don’t give up on yourself. Keep going and remember not to stress too much after the exam. You’ve done it and you should be proud of yourself for completing it.

Don’t scream at yourself if you think you’ve failed”. Failures are never failures as long as you can improve and make something out of them.

From Elm 🙂

My “Fear” of Buzzing Insects

Here are a few facts that everyone knows:
• Bees will only sting you if provoked and they die from stinging, meaning they wouldn’t usually do it
• Wasps won’t sting you unless angry
• They’re more scared of you than you are of them
• They aren’t actually concentrated on you – either they’re finding a way out or just flying around
• English flies are harmless. They can’t hurt you. Seriously.

Now, I know all this: when I’m away from something that buzzes, I’m totally fine. I list all the reasons why I shouldn’t be scared. When I hear one? I completely, completely freak out.

I’m asked a lot why I have such an extreme reaction to anything – literally anything – that makes a buzzing sound. My token response – “I’m blind so can’t see where they are or what they are, meaning it could be a wasp and I wouldn’t realise – works in most cases. However, even when I know it’s a fly or a bee that wouldn’t harm me, I have the exact same reaction. I can’t ignore it; everything in me becomes focused on where it might be, listening out for it and avoiding it.

To illustrate this, a situation happened to me today which brought my fear into sharp focus. I was home alone – my sister and dad went to an art gallery which is pretty much useless to me. I had just finished my lunch when I heard the horribly familiar buzz of something – wasp, bee or fly I still don’t know.

After that, I had one of the worst freakouts I’ve had in a while. Some of it was documented on my Twitter but what happened was that for half an hour – perhaps more – I sat in the same seat, shaking so hard and frantically messaging anyone, just to try and keep my mind under control.

I kept on hearing it. It flew into the kitchen, flew around me once and went towards the window. It quietened for a bit – it just stopped – and every time that happened, I stayed stock still because I knew it was still there. After a few minutes it’d start up again, faintly in the living room but soon coming back into the room I was in. Every time I heard it, I would sob “No please!” and gasping – honestly crying out of terror and not even logical terror. At one point, I thought there were two of them; I was unable to do anything. I called my mum, telling her I was bored and wanted to go to hers, trying to minimise my shaking whilst on the phone.

Now I’m out of the situation, it seems strange to me how terrified I truly was. That is until I remember that all the windows were closed and all the doors to the rooms in my house were open. That meant that the insect couldn’t escape but it was able to fly anywhere; i would have no idea where it was. Because of that, I was so scared that I didn’t want to move and then couldn’t. I couldn’t bypass the fear – what if it appeared whilst I was walking? What if it was just inside the other room and I would be faced with it? What if it was right behind my head and when I moved, it’d continue buzzing?

I managed to run upstairs – I spoke to my dad, barely able to stop myself from shrieking when I heard the thing again. When I got into my room and was alone, having slammed the door, I sat there crying in shock for about 10 minutes because I hardly ever react that badly.

I suppose it was because I was alone. Whenever I’m around people, it’s not so bad; I can just talk to them loudly and try to ignore the buzzing. I don’t want to go out into the garden in the daytime just in case – especially if I wanted to do work out there. When I’m in the park, I’m never alone and the insects don’t bother me because if I hear them, I can run as grass and paths are stretched out before me. It’s avoidance tactics at its best.

Luckily, I know it can’t be a diagnosable phobia: I only display a small percentage of symptoms. One key thing is that when I’m away from them, I’m not terrified because if I hear a bee on TV and am assured it’s not in the house with me, I calm down completely and can carry on as usual. It doesn’t affect the entirety of my life or intrerupt everything I do. However, it’s horrible.

My main problem is that people don’t understand. I’m aware that my fear is illogical but if you put me in the same room as an insect which buzzes and leave me, I’ll scream up a storm and would probably resort to tearing at the walls if I felt like I couldn’t get out. People say that they’re harmless and I know that but that knowledge doesn’t transfer into the situation when I’m in it. There’s only one person I’ve found who fully understands this and that’s All the Jazz who has honestly been a lifesaver to me today. Just no know that there’s someone who gets it and doesn’t think I’m either being pathetic or stupid for crying my eyes out because of a fucking tiny thing with wings is such a comfort.

Apart from forcing myself to be around bees or anything that buzzes, there’s not much I can do about my… Rather extreme reaction. It never used to be like this when I was a child – or I don’t remember it being – but nothing traumatic happened involving insects for me so I have no idea why it’s such a huge thing. Maybe it was because I spent so long avoiding them because of the little fear that it’s now grown into something almost unmanageable.

You’re not an idiot for being scared of something. Only you can tell yourself that your fear is illogical or not because only you can describe and experience your personal “brand” of it. To other people, it might not make sense but to you, the heart-pounding, tear-inducing fright makes all the sense in the world.

From Elm 🙂