Results Day

I wasn’t going to write anything about Results Day because I’m in a very conflicted state of mind about my grades.  In one sense, I’m ecstatic – I got into my first choice uni on a course that I’m incredibly excited to start – but Results Day just felt so underwhelming after 2 years of hard work.

Throughout Sixth Form I’ve had a lot of problems with teachers; a lot of the staff at my school were very unambitious and really didn’t push us at all.  One of my teachers was absent a lot (I mean, a lot) and in Year 12, I had 4 different teachers for English Language due to maternity leaves/new jobs etc.  So it’s safe to say the actual teaching of my A Levels was unbalanced, at the very least.  Me, and several other students raised concerns – our parents did too, since we were going home so stressed about effectively having to teach ourselves large portions of the syllabus – to the extent of going to see the headteacher and yet…nothing changed.

The reason I’m so disappointed with my grades (one in particular) is purely because of the sheer amount of effort I put into teaching myself effectively half of 3 A Levels (I will admit, some of my teachers were fantastic and so helpful, but others were the binary opposite).  I’m not writing this post as a sob story or as an excuse for why I maybe didn’t do as well as I could have done.  I know full well that there was nothing more I personally could have done to get better grades.  My grades aren’t even bad, they’re just not what I was expecting or hoping for, and they’re really not reflective of the amount of time and effort I put into them.

Anyway.  C’est la vie.  I was one mark off an A in English Literature so I’m trying to get that remarked (although my school is being very unhelpful and so the earliest my papers will actually be sent off to be remarked is 21st August, a full 6 days after Results Day).  I’d really been hoping for an A* in English Literature (and honestly, I kind of expected one – English has always been my strong subject, I’d received full marks in my coursework and I came out of the exams feeling relatively confident – which maybe shows I need to not expect things and not take things for granted!!) and I worked so hard for one, since I’m going to be doing a degree in it, but I just don’t feel like my work paid off.  A B is still a good grade and I’m happy that I got it as it’s still allowed me to get to where I want to go next year; it’s just the perfectionist in me wanted higher.

I got into my favourite uni though, so I’m not really sure how much that annoying little B matters.  Next month I’m going to be studying English Literature at the University of York, and I’m so excited.  I’m so grateful too, because I really thought I wouldn’t get on to the course – they ask for an A minimum in English Literature, so I think I’ve scraped through by the skin of my teeth.  I’m worried I’m going to feel like an impostor because of this, even though I know I’m perfectly capable (I was only a mark off an A, after all) but I think when I meet new people who’ve all got As and A*s, I think I’ll be left feeling a little inferior.

** I want to add a little disclaimer before I end this post.  I’m well aware that the grades I received are good grades and by saying I’m unhappy with what I got, in no way am I trying to diminish their value.  I am a perfectionist, always have been and I’m fairly sure I always will be, and I’ve always set my hopes on being the best and getting the best grades etc.  Additionally, with the struggle of having to self-teach a big chunk of my A Levels, I feel annoyed at myself for not having been able to do a better job at teaching (which is ridiculous because it shouldn’t have been almost completely down to me in the first place) but there we are.  I think essentially, I’m greedy with perfectionism – I knew all along that if I didn’t get 3 a*s I’d be disappointed, but I also can’t really blame myself, because the teaching standards at my school honestly were shambolic.**

I hope this makes sense – I feel like I’ve rambled on a bit.  Whilst I feel like I could have (and maybe should have) done better, there was no way physically or mentally I could have done more revision, so at the very least I’m satisfied that I gave A Levels my best shot despite the numerous hurdles and proud that the grades I got are very good regardless.  I’m going to uni next month and I genuinely can’t wait, so I’m going to just try to forget about the monumental pain in the arse A Levels were and move on to bigger and better things (first class degree, here I come ;)…)

I hope if you got your results they were what you wanted! And even if they weren’t, like me you’ll end up where you’re meant to go anyway.  Maybe the most important thing A Levels have taught me is that education is crucial, but grades aren’t the be-all and end-all – the people around you and your own goals and ambitions are 🙂

 

Review: Vox by Christina Dalcher

My friends bought Vox for me as part of my birthday present – they know that the way to my heart is books. I don’t normally write reviews for specific books but I think Vox is a very important read, particularly because of the current political and social climate, and I really want to draw as many people’s attention to it (and the problems it discusses) as possible.

*Whilst I want to review Vox, I’m also very conscious of how annoying spoilers are – so if you are yet to read this masterpiece (and I really recommend you do!) I won’t be giving any hints of what happens.*

ELLE’s quote on the cover – “a petrifying reimagining of The Handmaid’s Tale” – perfectly encapsulates the essence of Vox, and I thought it was similar in parts to Alderman’s The Power too. There are many parallels, most notably the subjugation of women, although the methods of subversion differ – in The Handmaid’s Tale, women are oppressed through sexuality, split from their families and placed into a warped theocracy; in Vox, women are essentially absent from all roles in life, as their speech is limited to 100 words per day. As I was reading, I felt as though I was reading The Handmaid’s Tale set nowadays – and it’s scary that the research used to control people in Vox is well-understood by scientists today, meaning theoretically the events aren’t that far outside the realm of possibility. Whilst it may seem somewhat unlikely, the thing is: it’s possible. Science has become so advanced that whole populations can be controlled by it.

The President in Vox is comparable to Trump, in my opinion – manipulative, selfish and interested merely in acting for his own gain. Further, like The Handmaid’s Tale, Vox is set in the USA, a supposedly democratic, equal society – the main events are in Washington DC, showing how corrupt our authoritative institutions are perhaps. I’m afraid to say it, but such an outcome really isn’t that implausible – look at Trump’s segregation and his fear-mongering, and how his (and other Republicans’) ideologies have shattered the relative peace and stability of America. Dystopian novels might not be dystopian for that much longer – before long, it could be reality.

The aspect of Vox I liked the most was that despite its warning, Dalcher also implores us to act against these evil leaders and influences. By literally taking away women’s voices, she highlights the importance of speaking up before it’s too late. Of course, maybe Vox is an extreme situation – in reality, our voices might never be literally taken away – but equally, we should speak up against oppression before our voices mean nothing.

I think everyone needs to read Vox. It’s such an important book, so so resonant in our society, and whilst it is a dystopian novel it’s also not too far from reality. Whilst direct action is sometimes tricky, Dalcher warns us about simply letting things slide. Even those who aren’t affected firsthand by the loss of voice in Vox should be protesting, acting against the President, instead of just succumbing – and that’s the same with our society. Even when something isn’t having a direct impact on you, stand up for what is right.