I couldn't believe it. I'd been predicted BCC and come out with ABB!
Thursday 14 August 1997
I had not had a peaceful night's sleep. I'd dreamed that I had received three grade As, but then found the teacher had made a mistake: they were somebody else's grades.
Optimism wasn't my strong point. Memories flooded back, of all the nights I'd spent watching television or going out when I should have been revising, and of the wasted hours spent in the library chatting to friends. A sick feeling came over me as I realised how much more work I could have done.
I remembered the disappointment I'd felt in the middle of my first exam, English, thinking that I hadn't done myself justice. I hadn't been able to get out of the room fast enough when it ended, and was desperate to avoid well-meaning questions from friends and family about how I thought it had gone. I remembered how I'd run to the toilets, locked myself in a cubicle and burst into tears. So now I was not in a hurry to get my results.
I arrived at school and relaxed a bit with my friends as we caught up on each other's news. When I took my place in the queue, however, my nerves returned. After a seemingly hour-long wait during which time my tear ducts repeatedly threatened to overspill, I finally reached the front. My stomach was doing somersaults as I was handed a small brown envelope which contained my results. I walked away calmly to find an empty classroom where I hastily ripped open the envelope and pulled out the slips of paper inside ...
I couldn't believe it. I'd been predicted BCC and had come out with ABB! I was ecstatic. I let out a yelp of joy and rushed around the corner to meet my friends at our arranged meeting place. Some of them had also done better than predicted, while others were quite disappointed with their results, but everyone either put on a brave face or concealed their delight in order to be sensitive to others' feelings. The real celebrations started when I went home to tell my parents. They replied, typically, "We knew you'd do well." I wished I'd been more confident.
Two years on, my perception of A-level results has changed dramatically. At the time I thought that getting the grades needed to go to my first choice of university was the-be-all-and-end-all. In retrospect, however, I can see that there are several options open to those who don't reach the grades. Several of my friends were able to persuade admissions tutors to accept them into their university; others were successful through the Clearing system. Some resat their exams and then enjoyed the rest of the year travelling or working. I had been lucky and had got the grades I needed to go to my first choice, Manchester University. Everyone I know, however, whether or not they got the grades they wanted, made the most of their situation.
So today, as students awake from their nightmares, and as their nerves grow at the thought of receiving their results, they should remember that one way or another, with determination and effort, they will get to university - and it will be well worth it when they do
Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes
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