Every A-Level student is acutely aware of the calendar right now, as exam season is rapidly approaching. With thousands of students sitting their predicted and actual A-Level exams within the next month, it’s important to remember that many of those have never completed a test in an exam hall before. For myself, I know this is daunting to me, the idea of being in a room with hundreds of others in dead silence. It’s uncomfortable. As unfortunate as it is, not everyone agrees with me constantly, so I wanted to ask other students how they felt about their upcoming A-Levels. 


My peers are in the same boat as me, although I know that some are handling it a lot better than myself. I asked the same question to everyone: “How do you think that COVID’s effect on your GCSE exams originally has impacted how you’re approaching your A-Levels?”


The answers were mixed, to say the least.


One student, wishing to remain anonymous, stated: “I didn’t try then, and I don’t know how to try now.” They continued, “Revising is hard :(“ This is a sentiment that many of us can share, no matter where we are in our education. 


Another student, Jake Long, offered: “I am, to my own admission, a little lazy, but I’m not that stressed about them. I don’t know, I’m just a lot more apathetic to them I guess?” For the past year, I’ve heard this belief repeated by a plethora of different people. The constant stress of GCSEs in COVID was overwhelming, where they bounced between not happening, definitely not happening, to it’s being considered, before finally settling on more exams than a normal year would sit. Personally, by the time I was on the other side of it, I found myself too jaded to put that amount of effort and commitment forward again. I’m unsurprised that some are jaded towards exams now.


One more anonymous student said: “I preferred how our GCSEs were set up - I’m much more stressed with the knowledge that our final grades depend on just our final exams next year rather than a collection of evidence over many smaller assessments.” Previously marketed as a portfolio throughout Year 11, it would allow for teacher-assessed grades at a time where it looked like exams wouldn’t be sittable. In many ways, the safety net of knowing that one bad day, or one bad grade, won’t dictate your year(s) effort can lower the stress incredibly. Much more than that, it also promotes consistently high effort in work all throughout the year, which one would assume to mean students would pay more attention in class and learn more. 


Lastly, Henry Hurley-Collinson answered: “I took the ones that we did as substitutes to GCSEs seriously, and I’ll take my A-Levels seriously.” He followed, “It is a little different as we haven’t experienced proper full length exams but other than that I think it’s the same.” 


It is interesting to note the varied student responses, even in a sample size as small as five. It’s understandable to be apathetic after two years of unrelenting stress and unknowingness as to what the future held, whereas in some cases, that’s made students take exams more seriously because they never know if those scores will become their final grades (should another event occur). All that we do know, however, is that you’d be hard-pressed to find a student looking forward to the next month.