All Workloads Are Daunting

(he says, while neglecting his school work to write a blog post in his free periods)

In realising that I have, seriously, thirteen school days left in my life (barring a series of year-repeatingly bad exam-related failures), I have started to look forward to my summer exams with my usual feelings of excitement – because I have a chance to get those arbitrary characters that are supposedly indicative of intelligence we nicked from Latin and called ‘grades’ – and fear – just in case my letters don’t make the right acronym at the end of it.

I’ve been thinking about the fact that I have four A2 exams (for English, Geography and History) and three GCSE exams (all for Ancient History), totalling seven; and while I think this is ‘a lost’, especially the day where I have English and Ancient History within a few hours of each other, my friends have considerable more: there are, like, 736 maths exams, the Science practical tests last week, and any resits that my friends are doing from last year (two or three each in some cases). And the poor sods doing GCSEs will have around twenty to cry through this summer.

But I don’t feel that I have it easy. Perhaps it’s the nature of my exams, that mine are, generally, two-hour exam sessions, which are massive concentrations of creative energy, as opposed to maths exams which, while not being necessarily easier as a result, are more of a slog of lower-intensity, repeated effort across several days and several papers. And I think this matches the careers you can expect as a result of these subjects: writers will spend 6 months working 20-hour days to cut a novel down for a publisher, while bankers will have more of a 9-5 work schedule. Spread over 9 or 10 months of a year.

I larger part of this feeling, however, is that I’ve been thinking about my specific workload for this summer all year: I’ve known about it, I’ve worked towards it, and so I’ve built my daily and weekly schedules around it. Therefore, I can afford to write a blog post every day, because two hours of intensive effort for each of my subjects a day on the weekends leaves me with an evening to relax; if I were still doing French, I probably wouldn’t have been able to start this blog in the first place, as every free second of my life would be spend conjugating irregular verbs.

And so, I feel that my workload is as heavy as everyone else’s, even if it might not be, because it fits the description of ‘Year 13 Exams’ for me: I think that everyone associates complete fear and a need to revise like Hell with this period, and so we’re all going to be working at 100%, regardless of the scale or the task ahead of us.

This is why I felt I needed to drop French; I got an A, by no means the lowest grade in the class, and probably wasn’t as God-awful as I thought I was at various points last year, but I knew that I would work pretty hard for these exams, and knew that I wouldn’t be able to stop myself working hard for French, even if my other subjects suffered. My offer is AAA, but if I did French as well, it could easily have been AABC; knowing me, I’d probably do a crap-load of French instead of English, get ABBB overall and fail to get in.

And with this idea of revision hard in mind, I’m going on holiday next week, and so new posts will not be released – which probably won’t make too much difference to my viewer figures as an honest 90% of all my views are on that Geography Pickup Lines post – and I won’t be able to talk to you in comments, or pay any attention to what you’re writing about on your own blogs. So enjoy the next week for me – I probably won’t, given the work I need to do – and I’ll see you on Monday 14th April.


6 thoughts on “All Workloads Are Daunting

  1. Best of luck or if you don’t like the idea of luck, may your effort earn you what you desire. I am unfamiliar with the British system of learning, but it sounds rather stressful from your description of it.

    1. It basically consists of spending 2 years rote-learning facts, then trying to use them in essay exams at the end of the year – I’m lucky because my school actually teaches essay technique, while others just do basic info. Do you guys have ‘controlled assessments’ over there?

        1. It’s halfway between an exam and coursework – we’re given an essay question a week in advance, then have to come in and write it up in a two-hour teacher-observed session. We can bring a full essay plan in, rendering the entire exercise pointless – its just like coursework in practice. We were doing them after 4 weeks of GCSEs, when I was 14, and it was hell.

          What are standardised tests? I hear them mentioned all the time.

          1. No, we don’t have that in high school (I don’t think – I didn’t go to a traditional high school), but some professors do that in our colleges. At that point, they typically give three essay topics and randomly choose one for the exam.

            Standardized exams are exams given to all students at a specific level in the public school system. Most of them do have essay questions, but they are primarily multiple choice. They are supposed to demonstrate that the students are “on track” for their grade. They are also used to determine funding and teacher re-hiring and such. They are rather nasty things in my opinion.

            We also have the SAT and ACT which are standardized exams that you would take if you want to go to an American undergraduate university. Once you get to applying to grad degrees, there are a variety, depending on your field. The most common would be the GRE.

            1. Your standardised testing stuff sounds like GCSE grades over here – A-levels determine if you get into university, but GCSEs are used to see how good teaching is, in an arbitrary, letter-oriented sense. It all seems kinda crappy to me.

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