Fun and exams. Two words you never hear in the same sentence. I think that’s wrong. Let me explain.
From a young age, it is drummed into us that doing well at school and getting good grades is only achieved by studying 24/7 and never going out. Our parents try to soften this by assuring us it’ll all be over when Year 11 ends, and we can relax. I don’t subscribe to this theory.
Say you do work from the moment you wake up till your head hits the pillow again in the evening, every day for a year. You do your exams, and then the summer holiday arrives. Admittedly this holiday is the best you’ll experience in your time in secondary education, but it doesn’t last. College is right around the corner, and is a massive step up. If you thought you had to work hard in your subjects last year, now you have to double the work, which is at double the difficulty. And this is for two years now, rather than one. There is no let-up.
Now, unless you’re a robot, there is just no way on Earth you can survive three years of non-stop study, with little or no social or relaxation time. It’s just not possible. We see this in a lot of the students who aced their GCSEs: they can’t handle the realisation that this year of complete dedication wasn’t a one-off, so go off the rails. I was one of these students. I’d worked my socks off in Year 11, and the effort paid off, but when I began my AS-Level at college, I couldn’t muster up the motivation. My teachers and parents were telling me at every turn that I had to work, work, work. More, more, more. In the end I just gave up completely, and did next to no work for a year.
This meant that I didn’t do as well as expected, so I decided to move to a different college to make a new start in my second year. My attitude improved and I stayed on top of my work throughout the year, ultimately doing much better in my exams at the end of the year.
My own experience is a perfect exemplification of my point: I went through the extremes of working 150% to 10% to 150% in three successive years. This isn’t healthy, believe me. Even in the year I barely worked I was stressed out, because I knew what the consequences of my inaction would be. And in my final year the workload took a toll on my physical health, as I had to study for 15 exams due to doing retakes of modules I’d failed the year before.
Balance is the key word. Your life shouldn’t be skewed in any one direction, aim for an equilibrium of priorities at all times. As I go onto university, I’ll make sure I have moments free of work and worry with friends and family or on my own, relaxing or going out and doing something fun, recharging the batteries, which will help me to study stronger and for longer when I have to.