Do Exam Results Shape Your Future? Of Course They Don't! | Emily Bashforth

Do Exam Results Shape Your Future? Of Course They Don't!


In this post, I really wanted to share with you my thoughts on exam grades. I'm not saying that they aren't important or that you should stop trying in school, however, I do think that results are, dare I say it, overrated and, honestly, I 100% believe that they cannot shape your future.
Getting high grades is cool. It makes you feel a sense of achievement, it makes your family proud and it can get you into top colleges and universities. Many of us put so much work into our exams, having many sleepless nights and stressful days, revising and worrying about whether or not we will do well. I think everyone has the right to feel proud of whatever their grades are, as success is all relative and, as long as you have tried your best that is really all that matters. Buuuuut, are exam grades really the be all and end all of everything? Of course they aren't.

Now, I'm a hypocrite, it's one of my finest skills, and I know that. I will always open my own envelope on results day wishing my Grades were different and being hard on myself, despite knowing that I did everything that I could possibly do. Although, I still don't believe that exam results are as important as they are made out to be.

We spend a good amount of our time in education and some of us don't get a real break from it until we're in our twenties. You begin at nursery, progress to primary school, then high school, college or sixth form and finally university, if you choose to follow the standard path that is and not opt for something like an apprenticeship. With the amount of time we spend at some form of school, it isn't surprising that their values and beliefs completely take over our lives. We are stuck in this institution for what could be a quarter of our lives and so we become so convinced that good grades = a good future. We don't get breaks to travel and see the world or experience the world of work properly. We are stuck in the same routine for such a long time that we almost become robots and clones of one another, which "I must get good grades" running through our brains at every waking moment. We end up being so consumed with the idea that, if we fail our classes, we've failed at life, and we end up with this mindset at perhaps the age of sixteen, which really sucks. At sixteen, your have your whole life ahead of you and I truly believe that the grade you get in a GCSE Maths exam on trigonometry isn't going to determine how much money you will go on to make as an adult.
But as teens, we don't see that. We live, breathe, sleep, eat and drink school and everything we do, every decision we make revolves around it. "Do you want to go out tonight?" "Sorry I can't, I have homework to do for tomorrow." We spend so much time working to get As in our exams that we don't see that there's a life outside of school that really doesn't revolve around grades at all. In school we're placed into classes based on our ability, everyone knows what grades your getting so they impact on who your friends are, and your seen more as a letter than a human being.

There is a world outside of school though. A big, wide, scary yet exciting world. High exam grades are simply a stepping stone. They may make things easier, as they could mean you don't have to retake classes and could get a job quicker, or they may not. there's no guarantee. Your A in politics may get you a job or they may be looking for someone with more work experience as oppose to good grades. Low grades could make it more difficult to get onto the employment ladder, or you may be just exactly what a boss is looking for. You just never know. Like I said, high grades are fantastic and you should never let anybody tell you otherwise, as you deserve them, however, you can still achieve whatever your heart desires, regardless of what is written on that piece of paper on results day. If you have the drive and determination to achieve something, there is nothing to say that you won't do it. It fabulous to have As and A*s, but it's what you do after you leave school that really counts. You can't just sit on those grades and expect job offers to come flooding in. And with low grades, if you put yourself out there and work hard to be the best in your field, you'll get there eventually. If you truly want something, then you'll stop at nothing until you get it, whether that means retaking English next year or having to move to another country. Do you think everybody in the workplace at the moment achieved top marks in all of their classes? Of course they didn't, but they worked hard because they decided that they were going to get what they wanted to get, and you can to. Good grades are simply a stepping stone and something to jazz up your CV but you are so much more than those grades. Life really does not revolve around them. Besides, not all jobs require straight As. It's all about what you want to do and what you're going to do to make it happen.

On the subject of your grades not defining you, I know it's cliche and everyone says it so it's kind of lost it's meaning, but it couldn't be more true. When I'm, walking around in public and I'm surrounded by people, when I look at someone, my first question isn't "Ooh I wonder what they got in their exams..." It's always something about what kind of person they are. I always wonder what sort of personality they have, what their accent is like, where they come from, who their family are, what their dreams are, what their back story is...all of this crosses my mind before exam results even get the chance to. We don't judge by grades, we judge by who people are and how they treat us. Someone can have straight As but they could be the most horrible person you've ever met. When you meet a potential boyfriend or girlfriend, you don't start by discussing exam results, you discuss your personal lives, your friendships, your jobs, your ambitions, your children, your pets, your childhoods...yet in school we become obsessed with the idea that the world is going to see us differently if our exam results aren't golden. And it's really, really rubbish. 
I visited London for the first time recently and I got to see Buckingham Palace in all its glory. It is a stunning building and I sat on the steps outside of the monument that faces it and started to think about all of the things I'm writing right now. I looked at everyone walking around me and I thought about how, regardless of what they achieved in school, they're still here. Some of them may not have a single qualification to their name, some of them may have PHDs, however, no matter what they got in their exams, they were all still there with me, at Buckingham Palace in one of the world's most loved cities. Even if they failed every one of their classes at school, they were all still walking on the same ground and breathing the same, just as they all had the right to. Some of those people may have traveled from half way across the world to be in London on that day to see the sights, yet they maybe didn't pass Maths or English. But that didn't matter. We were all there, enjoying the same moment and exploring the world in the same way. Our exam results don't segregate us in the way that we grow up thinking that they will. In all honesty, nobody really cares. I promise you that someone is much more likely to judge you first by what you're wearing, rather than your exam grades.

Another thing a lot of us are experts in is comparing our grades to those of others. On results day we will ask our friends what they got and then will instantly begin to mentally compare how highly they achieved to how highly we achieved. "OMG they got an A in Biology but I only got a B." "Their results are so much higher than mine so they're going to think I'm dumb." We all compare ourselves to most people we meet on a daily basis in some way, shape or form, because the school system has made us pros at it. I find it horrible how it's come to this, us defining our own "intelligence" based on the "intelligence" of others. But it sure as he'll doesn't matter what other people got as it isn't going to impact on your future. And, like I previously mentioned, those grades mean nothing if you do not do anything with them. Stop comparing your own exam results with the exam results of others because, for one, it isn't as simple as "oh she got an A and I got a C," there are always reasons behind why we get the results that we get, it's not black and white. And also, we all have our strengths and weaknesses, you may excel in physics yet someone else may get top marks in art. And finally, it isn't worth comparing your grades to other peoples because, not only can you do nothing about it, but grades aren't as important as we think they are when we open the envelope containing them and other people achieving highly doesn't mean there will be any less room in the workplace for you. 
Personally, I don't like to tell people my exam results. Part of the reason behind that is because I'm my own worst enemy and I'm always convinced that I've done shockingly bad and everyone will think I am a failure, but also because I don't think it really matters, does it? Do other people REALLY need to know what I got in my GCSEs and A-Levels? I understand that people are interested and it's human nature to be mosey, but personally I wouldn't ever push someone to tell me what they got. At the end of the day, we all sat the exams, we all did what we could do, we all tried and that's all that matters. It's nice to share your results and gossip about the exam with your pals but, to me, I feel like my exam results shouldn't ever change how people see me. I don't feel that I have to share them because it isn't going to impact on anything. I'm still me. I don't want to share my results because, although I may not be 100% ashamed of them, I just don't see them as being that big of a deal. They're a stepping stone, nothing more, to me anyway. 

I guess what I'm getting at in this post is, education is a truly magical thing, (despite how messed up the system has become) so don't ever waste it. We are lucky enough to have free education and the right to learn so many fantastic things. I feel extremely privileged to be able to go to school each day and find out things that I didn't know twenty four hours ago and to be able to even take exams that could help me get my dream job in the future. However, if you don't get the top grades or what you wanted to, so what? At the time, when you open the envelope, I understand that your heart might shatter and it will seem like the end of the world, but that couldn't be further from the truth. When you open your exam results, that simply marks the beginning. If you take one thing from this blog post, please allow it to be that, it isn't your exam results that shape your future, it's what you do with them and the choices you make AFTER opening them. 
Exam results are overrated if you ask me. Don't get me wrong, I'm not for one second saying that I wouldn't love to get full marks in every subjects, but in the back of my mind I know that they don't mean anything in the long run. High grades will surely be impressive and are likely to get your foot in the door with employers, but even if you do not have any results, you can do what the hell you want with your future, which is one of the beautiful things about life. You have complete and utter control over it and you have the power to create your own destiny. If you want to be a lawyer, go and do it. An actor? You can do that too! A doctor? For sure! Whatever your heart desires, you can achieve. Because trust me, if your exam results determined how successful your future was going to be, then the majority of people in employment today would sure as hell not be there. The celebrities you see on red carpets, people you see working in offices, whoever it is, okay, perhaps their grades made them look good and were really beneficial towards them getting the career they wanted, but the reason they are where they are is because of their sheer passion and drive. There is always a way around something and it may take more time than it would if you were to have high grades, but if there is no reason why you can't have the life you've dreamed of. 

Exam results are simply letters on a piece of paper than could quite easily be torn up. They in no way define you as a person. They do not represent your kindness, your strength, your determination to achieve. They are good to have but they honestly don't mean much. Nobody will think of you differently if you tell them you failed your GCSEs, nobody will turn you away, nobody will see you as dumb. "Intelligence" has no real definition to me. 
Don't let your results restrict you and don't become so fixated with the idea that you're going to end up homeless and unemployed
Outed if you don't do as well as your friends. There is always more to life than school and, although education is a big part of our lives, there is far much more learning to be done outside of the classroom, where you will see that people are far more interested in you as a person as oppose to just your grades. 

Be sure to tell me your thoughts on this! <3

Love. Emily :) xx

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