With all the kerfuffle around numerical rather than alphabetical grading for the GCSE results, the widespread panic about hordes of students’ papers needing to be re-marked, the screwing of the pooch when it comes to gaming the system with ‘controlled assessment’, this Thursday is going to throw up any number of question marks, surprises and disquieting truths about the system. However, all of this is white noise, a buzzing fly for the thousands of students for whom these results are, up until this moment, to be the crowning glory of their academic life or a nasty gut punch after toiling for the last two years for what will feel like no good reason.
It’s important to remember that no matter what happens with your GCSEs, it remains a stepping stone and nothing more. A sort of gateway exam as it were. Obviously some of the changes have thrown up confused and mixed messages and for many who are possibly university bound, the boundaries that were once so simple differ magnificently from one university to another. What this means, hopefully, is that schools will be forced to look at university entry and offer advice earlier than usual. With certain institutions and courses stipulating what now constitutes a grade C when in old money it was pretty obvious, it may be you’ll need to revise your plans and either do a resit or re-examine where you want to study post A levels. The same is true for certain HNDs, BTECs, Internships etc. who may have minimum requirements in English and Maths but what that shakes out to be in new money is somewhat subjective.
Now, it may not be helpful to have to start thinking about this now, but unfortunately as the guinea pigs you have drawn the short straw and this results season is one of the stranger ones in recent times. Your results on Thursday will necessarily impact the choices you make next, but, and it’s an important but – good or bad, nothing is permanent. As much as it feels like the most important thing in the world right now, as long as you’ve done well enough to keep your options open you’ll be just fine. My business partner is one of the smartest people I know, BA from Durham, MA from Warwick, PhD from Columbia, he had lousy GCSE results comparative to his ability and pretty unremarkable A levels if we’re getting into finger pointing. Equally, people I went to school with who performed astonishingly at GCSE level were middle of the pack come A level. As worried as you might be you are only ever really judged on your highest level of accomplishment, so as long as you do well enough to not close down avenues, things will work out just fine if you apply yourself and move forward in a positive fashion.
So no matter whether you’re the big winner or the wooden spooner come Thursday morning try and hold on to the fact that it is, comprehensively, not the end of the road, just a bump in it. You can do resits alongside A levels or BTECs etc, you may need to slightly adjust certain plans to accommodate your new circumstances but under no circumstances should you feel like a failure nor should you be too smug. It all shakes out in the wash and if you know where you want to be, I guarantee if you apply yourself then Thursday is just another day.