Saturday, 21 March 2015

It's Getting Hot in Here!

Have you felt the dramatic heat that has suddenly swept through your home, making you sweat harder than an hour of ridiculously painful aerobics? Tout a coup, I'm asking myself why, during what I've long considered to be a 'safe-from-the-terror-that-is-the-summer-season' month, the temperature has hit new heights which I never knew existed. 

But I know that asking you - or anybody else, for that matter - about the heat is pointless because, unless you find yourself swimming in the same pool as me, you are otherwise immune to its horrible side effects like a contagious and certainly callous cold. This heat that I've been feeling has, to an extent, been gradually getting hotter and hotter for some time now, simmering away like a saucepan filled with out-of-a-can soup in the background. Now, as it reaches boiling point, I'm starting to lose all connection that I've always had with all the things I enjoy: frustratingly, the expression that all eager parents detest with a passion, 'I can't', is frequently escaping from my lips. Like a bubble, I'm trapped within a universe that denies me virtually no opportunities to poke my head outside and gain some proper fresh air. 

My problem? It is one that every teenager of my age faces at one point or another within their lifetime: exams. Gulp. The slightest pronunciation of the first syllable - ex, which can obviously be applied to anything - instantly sends shivers of ice cold fear up my spine, turning me into a shaking wreck before I even realise it! And that's before I even reach the second syllable, which announces the thing that I've been dreading all long. 

More sinister than an episode of Luther, exams are the number one enemy of all teachers who, beneath the 'I've-got-a-hundred-and-sixty-two-likes-on-my-Facebook-profile-picture' bravado, are secretly more scared of answering a question on radioactivity than having their Facebook account shut down by their appalled parents. And, judging by the amount of Facebook-themed conversations that tend to crop up around my classmates, social media is a massive deal in a young person's life, though I am a fabulous exception to that rule. Still, if my Science teacher dares to mention the word 'exam', the whole class goes silent, hushed like one would be at a sombre funeral. 

Seriously, if you want to get somebody's attention, breathe exam on their necks and all feelings of peace will die straight away!

Right now, I'm hearing more and more about exams as the time towards actually sitting them - yes, this means that I will be devoting endless hours to sitting in the Great Hall, with little more than a pen, pencil and a half-sane mind as my sole equipment - approaches quicker than an Australian bushfire. Is it terrifying? Absolutely. No other words are needed to express how frightening the prospect of preparing, sitting and living life after an exam will be like; sometimes, you can't be more honest that sticking to the feelings that stick to you like a badly glued-in piece of paper. 

The thing is that these aren't actual real exams or not at least like the end-of-course GCSE examinations that I'll have the wonderful honour of sitting in a years' time. By this, I mean that these exams are only mocks - ironically a word associated with teasing scornfully - and therefore won't have any influence on my overall grades. Thankfully, I have something - just an ever-so-slight symbol of relief - to be happy about: nothing will deter my determination to pass Maths next summer! 

However, I really can't afford to slip into my flip flops and comfiest pair of shoes quite yet: regardless of what quite a few of my classmates think, these mocks are not for messing around in. Consisting of papers and questions from previous GCSE exams, mocks are the real thing, and give a rough indication as to which grade you'll achieve in a years' time. Of course, getting an A* might be a huge ask before you even reach the halfway point in your course, yet mocks can highlight faults that need to be addressed before it's too late - and failure potentially blocks your path to success. 

When considering this point of view, I do see the need for mock exams because they can put you onto the right path towards good grades. With a year to go before the real thing, you should have plenty of time to boost your confidence and perform better in examinations which, come the following summer, you should be treating with as much respect as you would towards the Queen. 

Still, is it fair to declare that the first time is always the hardest? With no previous experience under your belt, the entire concept of staring at several pieces of paper for possibly up to two hours can send your already revision-mad brain into overdrive. Although expectations tend to remain relatively high, I think that a bit of lenience should be given because, unlike Year 11 pupils, we haven't had the benefit of a full two years education. Yet it doesn't mean that we are relieved of some of the pressure that is placed upon us - regardless of their significance, we are still expected to do reasonably well!

As the biggest things that I've ever had to face have been end-of-term tests, I'm nervous at the thought of sitting something as intimidating as a mock exam because, ultimately, it will influence which sets I'll be placed into in Year 11, which could have an affect on the grades that I'll be taught to aim for. Therefore, the likes of English, Science and Sociology - subjects which I like and a few of which I'm keen to study at sixth form - are really important to me, and I won't settle for anything below a C (though, as I'm sitting a foundation paper in Science, the highest I can get is a C). 

Also, this term has been so heavy-going that I've hardly had a break from my typical routine of getting up, going to school, possibly staying on for revision or coursework catch-up sessions after the day is over, coming home, having dinner and then going to bed for several weeks. My weekends are a sweet honeymoon from weekday drama, which is getting increasingly repetitive and predictable like a badly-written soap opera - just give me some variety, please! 

Luckily, I only have one more week to go before I break up for Easter, so at least I'll have plenty of lie-ins in between revision sessions as my mocks commence on the first day of the new term next month. Eek! What with exam stress, I can't really trust myself to be stuck in a room alone with my two Lindt bunnies, which will definitely come in handy when the volume of a sphere becomes too much to handle...

Like many things, exams are a learning curve in themselves, and it is only now that I've truly had to face up to them. Well, it's better to address my fears sooner than later, isn't it? Sure, I could do with a bit more time, but I'm secretly desperate to get them over and done with; I'm not the type of person who likes waiting, especially if it is for something that I begrudge with a passion! 

In the meantime, I shall open all the windows in the house, breathe in the fresh March air and perhaps treat myself to more refreshing salads in a vain attempt to cool myself down. If the heat remains, I'll just have to find a way around working with it instead of letting it control me. Only I like to be in control - as if stress deserves to take charge! 

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