All of us are rejoicing now that exam season is finally over. No more revision, no more stress, no more worrying about trying to cram in every single fact the night before the big day. But what about next year? And possibly three more years of your life spent at university. The exams seem never ending, and with years’ worth of work sitting on one paper, the pressure is immense, in fact, many argue it’s so much, that it’s affecting the mental health of today’s youth. It’s estimated that around 25% of teenagers now suffer from anxiety, and around 15-20% suffer from depression, which is often worsened by the pressure of exams, and the fear of failure. Many of us pressure ourselves even more than our parents and teachers do, which I admit I am guilty of, due to the anxiety of failing an exam. However, is getting top marks all the time really something to sacrifice your mental health for? I think not.
We all know that feeling of dread before an exam, when you walk into the sports hall and everything seems to stop. And many of us know the unpleasantness of panic attacks caused by exams; shaking, hyperventilating and often feeling as if you’re about to be sick. Cases of anxiety have risen so much in the past decade that many experts are saying we’re in an epidemic, and this has often been linked to increased pressure at school and college. No one can argue that exams are getting harder by the year, for example around twenty physics equations will now have to be remembered for those doing GCSE physics, and it is essential to have a C or above in Maths and English. As the difficulty of exams increases each year, the number of cases of anxiety appears to increase as well. This correlation clearly indicates that exam pressure is a factor affecting the mental health of today’s youth, and this is completely understandable. Throughout our education, I’m sure we’ve all had teachers who tell us that exams aren’t everything, but then when it gets to exam season, we’re told that if we don’t succeed then it’ll affect you for the rest of your life.
We are told that if you don’t pass all your exams with flying colours that you have no potential, that you are not deemed smart enough to have a successful career. We need to change this attitude towards exams. I do not believe that failing an exam makes you a failure, as how can you even be expected to work at the best of ability in timed conditions with an invigilator watching over you. And not all of us can be expected to get full marks on every exam; everyone has their own strengths though. We should pride ourselves on being individual, just because someone may not be considered traditionally academic; it does not mean they are not a talented person who has a lot to offer. In the wise words of Malorie Blackman: ‘Exams, though important, are not everything’. So don’t let your mental health suffer because the pressure of passing all your exams, that pressure is completely unnecessary, and everyone can see the effect it’s having. And at the end of the day, your wellbeing is just not worth top grades.