Songs for Teenagers

When you’re barely 17 it’s like the world seems to pass by in a blink of an eye. What feels like a few weeks ago becomes a year in Sixth Form land – and what feels like a year is only a matter of eternally long weeks. GCSE to A-Level is one of the biggest jumps I’ve found. The work is pretty much the same – practically 16 exams worth of work at GCSE feels equivalent to three subjects’ worth of work at A Level. But do you want to know why it feels as though it’s the biggest jump? It’s not necessarily because of the work; you become accustomed to that with a month or two. It’s not the lessons – that what free lessons are for, additional revision times when it’s impossible to find time to finish everything at home, even if you spend around 5 hours a night revising or doing homework.

The biggest jump is that now, thanks to GCSEs, you have an expectation of yourself; at least now I do. If anything, I compare my GCSEs to everyone else and worry about doing even better at A Level. Because once you’ve received those A*s or As at GCSE – those Bs you get at A Level seem like underachieving somehow. But really, they’re essentially equivalent to maybe even an A* at GCSE.

Everything’s based on grades at A Level I’ve found. ‘I believe you’ll get an A at the end of the two years’… but what about the A*? It’s as if I feel I have even more to prove now. To prove that I’m better than those 3 Cs and 1 B at GCSE, because now I’m taking the two subjects I got an A* in, and one of the 5 I got an A in. Because, for some reason, I feel as though that’s always worth mentioning. Because everyone around me got a minimum of 4 A* it feels like, and I was just stuck with 2.

It’s all more competitive. It’s not so much about the course you’ll enjoy the most, but more about the one that’ll help you to receive those desired grades. To get to that Russell Group University. To get that job. To be the best. Sometimes it feels as though you have to be the best at your A Level course to be considered good at the subject – despite the fact you’ve managed to survive an entire year, mostly maintaining the same grade. Yet – somehow

unfortunately – your heart drops a little every time you see that B. Because it’s not just one letter higher in the alphabet.

You hear in teen films that you should ‘enjoy these moments; because these are the best years of your life’ – and yet, also some of the worst. I’m not saying they’re wrong; being my age I’ve had some of the best times – times that make me belly laugh thinking about them. It’s just, these are American films. Where, it’s unlikely (from my limited knowledge) that they have too many important exams in the same way Britain does.

But the one solace I’ll always take from this time in my life is the fact that almost everyone around you feels the same way. And so, as you walk in to take that first exam, you can be safe in the knowledge that almost seven other kids from your class feel exactly the same way that you do. I realise I’m not in my final year yet, so to some this panic could be slightly premature. But if you’ve made it this far through the year without dropping out of Sixth Form, be aware that maybe we’re stronger that we think?

By Tirion Davies