Exams are terrible – Generation Z need a holiday

“It’s 4.44am and I have not slept yet. I have surpassed sleep. Sleep is just a social construct burdened upon me by the patriarchy.

GCSE results today, boyoboyoboy.”

In a classic emotional TV trope, I would like to flashback to 24th August 2016, the day that I got my GCSE results. As you may have guessed from my frenzied night-blogging on Tumblr, I was more than a little frazzled. But then again, I seem to have a greater capacity for stress than anyone else I know. Call it a hidden talent. But though that night seemed to me to be so monumental last year, the work that I put in before the exams was really more of a struggle.

It has come to that awful time of the year again. The Easter holidays, or what the Americans call ‘Spring Break’. It can be seen as ironic that the only things that are breaking at this time of the year are students’ hearts. All of the teachers are jetting off on foreign holidays and yet we, the people who should be enjoying our youth and health, are left to wade through mountains of textbook and revision notes instead of relaxing.

Oh, have you not made your revision notes?

If not, then that is a risky move indeed. Whether it’s GCSEs, A levels, SATs or just summer exams, the tests are galloping over the horizon – and the fact is that some of us are simply not ready. The problem is that exams are very badly placed in the year, the summer months are filled with excitement and good weather – who wants to sit inside studying? If exams were set in the winter then nobody would want to go outside and students definitely would revise more. Well, I would. Incidentally, why would anyone think to place the exam period over the hottest months of the year? In June, no one wants to sit in an un-air-conditioned sports hall with a hundred other teenagers, no matter how much work they have done.

It’s a matter of priorities, really. When summer-me is sitting at home on a balmy Sunday afternoon, will she want to cram more information into her brain, or will she want to play Skyrim and write stories? As was shown in Lower Fifth, when I was drafting the characters that would end up in ‘His Frozen Fingertips’, I will always prioritise the latter. Anyone with forethought and ‘revision schedules’ will say that that is a bad idea, but I am not such a person, being a pretty average teenager.

My logic for this is simple: instant gratification.

Doing revision makes me miserable in the short term but happy later.

However,

Wasting time makes me happy in the short term but miserable later.

I am a simple being, so thinking of the long-term makes me feel uncertain and hopeless. This can be solved by a little trick called ‘not-thinking-about-it-at-all’. Instant gratification! But that is not a good thing to do. Generation Z, those of us born from 1996 to 2010, are shown to have a higher probability than any generation before of getting into university. Though that is great, it means that competition is higher and that means that grades have to be higher, if that is your chosen path. So, I guess that for once in my life I will have to get to work – if nothing else for the aesthetic of some of the prettier universities that I want to apply to. Photos of them would look so good on Instagram!

Now that the Easter holidays have been swallowed up by the abyss of revision, we need to reclaim the summer as a season for fun and excitement. There are only a few piddly little exams in those months, after all. In fact, I could think of a whole list of worthwhile things to do in the summer holidays: a list of worthwhile books (astute readers may be able to see where this is going)… Did you know that ‘His Frozen Fingertips is being released in June 2017?

Happy holidays!

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