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My advice for current Year 11’s.  Learn from my (many) mistakes.

So Year 11 is here. All the stress, worry and anticipation has arrived. You’ve worked really hard in year 10,  you are finishing your GCSE courses and preparing for the mocks after Christmas. This will be the most STRESSFUL Christmas break of your life so far. After Christmas comes everything you have been working towards; all the sleepless nights of last minute cramming and the endless amount of past papers you’ve done to prepare.

Honestly, your mock results will be accompanied by a whole load of anger, uncontrollable tears and gut-wrenching panic as you feel you’re running out of time. They will not be what you want or expected. Your teachers will mark you harshly so that they can get you to work really hard up until your final exams and it’s a wakeup call that feels like a smack across the face.

 

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The Office US (NBC). Image credit: Reaction Gifs. Tumblr

 

I didn’t work at all for my mocks, I had some weird philosophy that revision is useless because you’re never learning your weaknesses. You revise the bits you already know because that’s easier and then cry about your results when the harder trigonometry you should have been focusing on comes up in the exam but you spent all your time doing easy fractions. By not revising, however, you’re going into the exam completely open and frightened about what will come up. This teaches you exactly which points of each course are your weaknesses.

For example, I was absolutely terrible at history – ALL THOSE NAMES and dates I couldn’t be bothered with. I didn’t work all year and hated every second of it; hated every lesson and couldn’t wait for them to be over. I didn’t revise for my mocks and failed drastically, getting a U. However, I did learn what I needed to work on. My attitude. I managed to pull myself together a bit and work harder so that I didn’t completely fail my final GCSE. I did a few more past papers and my grades got a little bit higher each time (not by much though).

In the final exam, I managed to get a D. This sounds rubbish, but to me it felt like a great achievement. I had managed to bump myself up 2 grades (48%) and stop myself from completely failing. I was fairly happy with this because, as hard as it sounds, you cannot compare yourself to your friends and peers.  It can only lead to disappointment. You also have to ignore that one person in your year who does absolutely no work and still gets straight As, those people are not helpful and copying them is probably not a good idea (I would know). 

If you know that you’re not going to do well in your GCSEs and you’re already looking elsewhere, school isn’t all about books and grades. School is about finding your strengths and weaknesses and using them to your advantages. For example, if you’re really sporty look at college courses in Physical Education and Health. Colleges offer courses that may seem a lot more interesting to you rather than just the little 1 hour slots, 3 times a week of PE that you usually get at school. Find a college course that suits you because then you’ll be happy to work for it and it won’t feel like a drag.

Work experience is also helpful, if you’re trying to find work experience in a specific area, the internet isn’t the only option. Use your parents, teachers, friends’ parents and grandparents, anyone who may know someone else and can help you get to where you want. Work experience is a great idea, it makes you feel just that little bit more sure of where you want to go in life. But you can change your mind very quickly. People will often go through many jobs before finding exactly what they want to do. So don’t panic. You have plenty of time, right now your GCSEs are your biggest immediate problem, you’ll have many more after this, so calm down.

Life shouldn’t be all about studying endlessly, working for your whole life, then relaxing when you’re old and too sick and frail to do all the things you wanted to do when young. Go travelling, see the world, and step outside your comfort zone because that’s where all the cool stuff happens.

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