3 August 2020
Dear Scottish Qualifications Authority,
My exam results arrive tomorrow.
I was in 5th year when the schools closed - the year school always tells you is one of the most important of your academic life. It should have been the year I sat 4 Highers and a National 5, but in the end it was a year that turned out like no other for any of us.
It feels like the year and my exams have been taken away from me. I have been so stressed and worried. And I haven’t heard from you in all this time.
When I get the text tomorrow morning I’ll probably feel like throwing the phone against the wall. I’m not very optimistic. I know I could have done so much better than my prelims if I’d had the chance to keep working.
I’d had a bad year at school. There were personal issues which made it very difficult and stressful, but I still had time to turn things round.
Before lockdown when I was feeling optimistic and thinking about how the exams could go, I thought I might get C’s and maybe a B. I thought I would have the chance to keep working through March, April and May.
Last year I got mostly A’s for my National 5’s, and that was what I was thinking I would have the chance to do this year, to strive better in the exam itself.
I think I’ll just be reading ‘FAIL’ when I open the text tomorrow though. This has all been a bit of a nightmare and caused me so much worry.
I remember back in March the feeling of disbelief when my friends were telling me the schools were shutting. I had already been self isolating for a week as I had symptoms of the virus, and couldn’t believe I wouldn’t get back in again. That week was horrible. I mean, now we’re all used to it, but that first week, it was dreadful.
Then I heard the exams were cancelled. My first thoughts were ‘Yes! No exams!’ – sheer elation. But as I thought about it I was like – ‘Oh wait, last year I did better in my exams, but now this is it all over, I don’t have any extra time to study. There’s nothing I can do.’
My friends told me at first, and then there was an official statement, but I didn’t hear anything from you at the SQA directly to me or to young people in general. No official acknowledgement of the impact that decision was going to have on my life.
I think my mum got one text from the school, but that was it. When I think about it now, that’s kind of messed up. Such a huge decision taken about my life and I wasn’t consulted or told about it – just left to stress my head off. Left with all that uncertainty on top of all the uncertainty I had about what was happening to the world in general.
Although I’m dreading what the text will say and what will be in the envelope – although I’m pretty sure I’ve failed, I actually have no idea. I still don’t understand how the exams have been graded. That’s something else you have failed to tell me or explain to me.
The school said something about prelims and predicted grades. As I said, I had a really hard year and I failed hard on my prelims. Maybe if the teacher likes you and thought you could have done better they might have boosted your predicted grade. But I don’t know.
And that’s the problem. I don’t know. Surely I should? Surely you should have spoken directly to young people, explained to them how this was going to work? Not leave us guessing, stressing and making it up.
I’m just glad I have the opportunity of another year at school if this has gone badly wrong. I can hopefully sort it all out. I’ve been offered a Foundation Apprenticeship in Childcare. That means I’ll be in school 3 days, college 1 day, and on placement in a nursery 1 day – I’m really looking forward to that, I really enjoy working with children, I hope I can make a career out of it.
I can’t imagine what it must be like for 6th Years that needed specific grades. If they’d had a bad start to the year like me and were hoping to be able to pull it all back for the exams.
My exam results arrive tomorrow. It feels like one of the most essential years of my life has been cut off. These last few months not knowing what was going on and hearing so little from the school and the SQA have been so stressful. At times it has been overbearing.
But I worked through it by saying, ‘whatever happens happens, I’ll sort through it as it comes.’ That helped me let go, but before I developed that mindset, it was tough. It affects your mental health, all that confusion, waiting and worrying.
My exam results arrive tomorrow. I’ll finally get my communication from you.