(‘f’ is for ‘failure, and repeating the year’…)
I’m looking forward to the exams I’ll sit in two weeks. I’m seeing them as fundamentally different to previous exams I’ve sat; A-levels were about proving that I was actually a competent reader of books and writer of essays, both for the sake of impressing a university and to get over my own fear that everything I’ve ever achieved in my life has been the result of chance as opposed to skill. As a result I was guarded with my points, careful not to make an obscure, off-the-wall suggestion because such things can be interpreted as the mark of a great writer, or one who’s talking out of their arse, and considering all I had was an A* at GCSE at that point, I’d probably fall into the latter category.
But now I know that I’m not an atrocious writer; I’m not great, but I’ve got the grades to show I can do exam essays, and the marks both this year and in previous years to remind myself that I’m not too bad at writing real essays either. And now that I’m free from this need to prove myself to be competent, I’m way more relaxed about these exams: I’m not saying that my A-level in English will land me in the ‘great writer’ category whenever I make an odd point in an essay, but I’m more comfortable making those points, knowing that I have a proven record of not being shite at English. I’ve passed the point where a single poor essay will define me was a reader and writer, so it’s pretty liberating to turn the entirety of my Beowulf revision into a discussion of the lineage of the Shield-Danes.
And if I do fail miserably, I’ll have failed that exam, not failed as a writer; and I’ll have failed that exam making some weird-ass points in the process.