Life After Exams – Alice’s Story
Have you been keeping an eye on our exam series over the last few weeks? It started with a new version of our ‘This Is My Exams Story’ video, telling the story of a young person worried about how their exams had gone and what to do next. What you may not know is that someone who was on work experience with us originally created this video.
(Gellir darllen yr erthygl yma yng Nghymraeg hefyd – I ddarllen y cynnwys yma yn Gymraeg, clicia yma)
Alice Harrett from Llandaff was 16 at the time and was a student at the Bishop of Llandaff High School. Today she’s 23 years old and is living and working in Brussels, Belgium. We caught up with her to find out how her life panned out after all the stress and worry back then. We hope to show you that there is life after exams!
How did creating the video happen?
I had the opportunity to do a week of work experience at ProMo-Cymru (the people who run Meic), which I really enjoyed! They suggested that I could make a video on a topic that was important to me. I had just finished my exams so I thought that a video about combatting exam stress could help other students going through the same worries. Meic was a relatively new service at this point, so I was delighted to take part in creating this video.
Can you remember how you felt during your exams?
When I was working towards my GCSEs and A-levels I felt anxious and stressed about all the different subjects for which I had to revise. There was so much to remember, and it was difficult at times to know where to start! It felt like there was a lot of pressure to perform at my best. All this on top of worrying what I would do next and what I wanted to do in life.
Looking back do you think you were worried more than you needed to be?
I believe that I was much more worried than I needed to be. Whilst stress and anxiety about exams is completely understandable, it can be easy to let things bottle up and become more of a problem than they should be. If I could talk my sixteen-year-old self, I’d tell myself that hard work pays off but it is important to take breaks too. I ended up doing just fine. Even when things don’t go exactly to plan there may be a reason for it sometimes. It might give you a burst of motivation to do better!
Do you think there’s a lot of pressure put on young people when it comes to exams?
Yes! Mental health is a very important topic at the moment. Exams are stressful, and then you have even more pressure trying to figure out what you want to do in life and finding a job.
The hardest thing for me was learning not to compare myself to others during exams. You need to go at your own pace and set your own standards.
What did you go on to do after sitting your exams?
I went on to university, where I studied Modern Languages and Literature. I’m currently working in media and communication in Brussels. I was a bit nervous moving to another country at first, but pushing myself out of my comfort zone has been a very positive experience for me on the whole. I hope to continue working in Brussels in the future.
You gave lots of advice in your video to those sitting their exams. Now that you’ve been through it all and come out the other side, is there any advice you’d like to add?
Don’t feel any lesser for worrying or stressing about exams. It is understandable. The important thing is to find ways that reduce this stress. This may be by doing something that makes you feel more productive and organised, like creating a revision timetable, or by taking some time off to do something that makes you feel relaxed.
I would also say not to compare what you’re doing to others. Other people can sometimes exaggerate how little or how much they have done. However, everybody works differently, and only you can decide what your personal goals are.
Finally, if you find that you’re still struggling, services such as Meic are always there to listen!
Talk to Meic
If you feel you just can’t cope or want further advice or information then call the Meic helpline to talk to one of our friendly advisors.
Meic is an information and advocacy helpline for children and young people aged 0-25 in Wales. We are open 8am to midnight, 7 days a week. You can contact us free on the phone (080880 23456), text message (84001) or online chat.