For most, the final few months of your A-levels (or equivalent) marks the end of 10-13 years in education. So for these students, across the world, the unknown for what's to come and how this pandemic will affect their current situation and future lives can be daunting, anxiety inducing and rather stressful. t's important to process this life-altering change, give yourself time to adjust and get a healthy balance of studying, improving your skills and talents, enjoying your hobbies as well as giving yourself time off to recharge.
We have spoken to students currently studying their A-Levels. As well as sharing their experience, they have provided a few helpful ways to cope during this uncertain situation.
Final Year A-Levels
Initial thoughts were that of confusion, worry and concern... Not knowing what would happen with exams, how grades would be awarded, how my University applications would be affected. On the Friday after it had been announced schools would be closed, I felt a lot of sadness as it seemed as though it would be our last day of sixth form and indeed, that of my time in this form of education. A few weeks on, I feel a lot better although a little anxiety about the future still exists and I think it always will. But time to adjust has definitely helped and another thing which makes me calmer is the assurance from the Government, universities and schools that it will all be okay and work out.
5 things I am doing to cope in a positive way during this time which you may also find helpful:
1. Do stuff you enjoy
I’ve spent my time walking the dog, playing video games, drawing, out in the garden...
2. Talk with your friends regularly
We are all going through the same thing so just keeping in contact can make it a lot better/easier to cope with and process
3. Keep up a routine
Even if this is waking up at 9am and then doing exercise or reading, having a routine is good and gives you purpose for the day
Doing a little bit of studying and research each week day on subjects you perhaps aren’t as good at (mine is sociology). This way, if you do get a grade you aren't happy with, you can re-sit with less stress because you have improved your knowledge and understanding. And this will also be useful for later life.
5. Keep your brain active
Watching TV and playing video games are great and definitely needed at times but doing things to help develop your brain is better. For example, I’m learning French and Piano.
My form tutor told us that in 10 years or so we will be asked what we did during this pandemic and time in isolation so do something that you are proud of and can show off with! But equally, let's use this time to rest and recharge for the next chapter of our lives.
Final Year A-Levels
I vividly remember a conversation with a school friend where we were discussing our holidays after the exams. My friend reassured me that only a national emergency would ever cause the A levels to be postponed which was unlikely since it has not happened since 1888. Yet unfortunately here we are…
If someone had told me at the start of this year that I would never get to sit my A level exams I think I would have laughed in their face. The numerous conversations my friends and I had over the 2 years of my studies moaning about and dreading our final exams, the tears lost and saying how we just wish they would never happen is quite ironic in retrospect. However, now we are actually in this position, it can’t help but feel extremely bittersweet. The thought of wishing everything back to normal so I can sit my exams is never a wish I would have thought to have!
I have gone through a rollercoaster of mixed emotions about the current situation with our cancelled exams. I first found out when I was at work that they were officially cancelled and couldn’t help but just burst into tears (I got a few funny looks). The anxiety around the unknown is what made things a lot harder to deal with because this is such a unique situation.
One day I was at school planning how much revision to do that night and the next day was my last ever day at secondary school. I couldn’t help but feel robbed. I was upset and angry. I am someone, like many others who has been on a journey with my A levels. During my first year I struggled a lot with the jump from GCSE’s, I felt constantly deflated, as I wasn’t used to getting bad grades. However during my second year I went up a gear and finally started to see my hard work pay off, so a part of me was excited to see that reflected in my final grades and if I could beat my targets.
It’s been hard not to feel like it is two years worth of work down the drain but we have to all remind ourselves that we are in it together. And that we will still have this knowledge to take into our futures and have learnt valuable life skills during the process. I do know that my hard work has not gone to waste and I did all that I could. Some situations in life are out of your control and you have to sit back and watch things play out.
My advice to students in a similar situation to me is to take each day as it comes. Make sure to stick to a routine and don’t turn your mind off completely. Personally, I wanted to make sure I finish some of my courses for that satisfaction but I am also getting my exercise each day and even playing trivia games! Take up a new hobby and spend time with those around you. Keep calm and happy - we have all been through an enormous amount of stress so take this time to have some days to relax too. I also work in a supermarket so I have that to focus on and know that I am helping the public as much as I can during this difficult time. Most importantly, stay safe.
Student mental health, no matter what stage of education, is important all of the time but we want to help support you during this time in particular 💙