Every kid dreams of not having to sit their exam. One moment, you’re knee-deep in Chemistry textbooks, trying desperately to remember the equilibrium constant, the next thing you know, exams are off, you can spend four hours on TikTok and you’re already DMing your mates about getting lit off Malibu and coke in the park.
What happens, then, when that dream becomes a reality? On Wednesday, the government announced measures to close schools across the UK in order to halt the spread of the coronavirus. As a result, for the first time ever, all GCSEs and A-Levels have been cancelled. This has left British teenagers with mixed feelings. With little information from the Prime Minister on how exactly teenagers would be able to obtain their qualifications in time for university, many 16 to 18-year-olds are feeling confused about their future.
We spoke to teens about how they feel about their exams getting cancelled.
“I JUST FEEL SICK TO MY STOMACH"
"I found out when my dad texted me after three hours spent in the library revising for my exams in May. I just feel sick to my stomach thinking about all the time, money and revision we’ve all spent on academic resources, travelling to and from college and in general preparing for an exam that’s we were told would be going on regardless of what happens.
Biased teachers giving out predicted grades or previous assessments as our overall A level results that will follow us for the rest of our lives is terrifying, to say the least!
It’s especially hard for black, Asian and minority students who are proven to be predicted lower grades than they actually get in their summer exams. I’ve seen so many students only start revising for exams after their final mock exams and get As. So how will teachers know how much they’ve improved and revised since then by old assessments?
Universities are oversubscribed and at this rate those with inflated predicted grades will get in, whilst those with stricter or biased teachers will never see their hard work paid off." — Andrezza, 18
“THERE IS A LITTLE FEELING OF RELIEF”
"I think it’s rather disheartening for students as we have been working towards our A levels for two years, but now it feels like all the revision and stress for exams has been for nothing.
Personally, exams give me a great deal of anxiety – especially sitting in the exam hall, it’s an atmosphere I dread. So in some ways for me, there is a little feeling of relief that I won’t have to sit exams this year and experience the anxiety they cause me.
However, it’s still unclear as to how students will be assessed and it would be sad if perhaps the grades we were given would be lower than the one we could have achieved in an exam. But I am sure our teachers will make sure we are awarded fair grades." — Alice, 18
"IT'S ALL A BIT BIZARRE"
“I’m feeling stressed because I don’t know what’s going to happen, and I have plans for September which I don’t know if I’ll be able to fulfil. We’ve been through five years of high school, building up to our GCSEs and now they’ve been cancelled… It’s all a bit bizarre. I’m also sad that tomorrow could be my last day at school for the foreseeable future and feel like I don’t have anything to work towards, until we know what’s going to happen next.
I also think it might be a shame if they only take our predicted, or mock results – although my mock grades were good, I feel I can do better. I just hope I get the opportunity to prove that.
I’m also not sure what will happen about further education and the world of work… I am keen to do an apprenticeship, but I’m not sure when that will come around – it makes it very difficult to plan ahead.” — Macey, 15
“MY MATES ARE NOT ONLY GUTTED BUT REALLY ANXIOUS"
"I'm gutted, to be honest. I saw these exams as a way of proving myself of getting into my university course (that is medicine), and not having this opportunity it is such a massive thing. The probability [of me getting into my chosen uni] is quite low. For medicine, universities will make more offers than they have places on one of two assumptions: that student may go somewhere else or they might not reach their grades. Having a year group of thousands instead of two or three hundred will be impactful for the university.
My mates are not only gutted but really anxious because they don't know what the future holds for them." — Yash, 18
“I COULDN'T BE HAPPIER"
"Honestly, I couldn’t be happier. These exams were just a massive weight on my shoulders and I seriously wasn’t looking forward to grinding for two to three months to get the grades I want. Now I’ll most likely get some sort of calculated grade based on my work throughout the year and for me at least that’s so calm.
But a good amount of my friends are quite upset because they’re the type to do OK during the year then cram and do better in exams, so this has kinda fucked them over.
Some people feel like this isn’t very rewarding either, but I think the people who put in the work throughout sixth form are the ones who are likely being rewarded the most anyway since their effort is gonna be reflected in their predicted grades.
But like most people, I’d cry if we had to sit exams during the summer instead, but I doubt that’ll happen." — Alberto, 18
“I WOULD GET REALLY GOOD GRADES BUT I WOULDN'T FEEL AS IF I'D EARNED IT”
"I feel depressed, unmotivated and a bit lost with what to do now. I don't really know. I feel like I’ve given myself a lot of tasks to do with the quarantine but there's nothing that I'm working towards. I feel quite robbed of what I could have got. I've done a lot – I’ve got all of these flashcards, I've got all of these essays, I really enjoy doing my work. I love learning and I love my subjects and it's just upsetting because I had a plan for the quarantine and I was going to enjoy learning more. I can still learn but I won't feel it is worth anything.
I haven't got low predicted grades, I would get really good grades but I wouldn't feel as if I’d earned it." — Lydia, 17