My bedroom window is the old-fashioned type with several shutters and panes overlapping one another, meaning it is the prime source of entrapment for flies and bugs. Many animals – wasps, flies, the occasional butterfly – have tragically met their ends in the layers of my second-floor window. I mention this because Wymondham sixth formers are at the stage where they are revising at home, and this brings several challenges. Mine is spending every revision break rescuing the latest insect that has deigned to pay me a visit.
(It’s actually a very annoying task, one that often provokes a desire to kill the animal myself. Partly because they appear to do it deliberately – they fly in even when it is only open by an inch – and then once they are trapped, their instinct is to fly upwards, which in my window is a spider-web-riddled dead end. Were they to crawl 2cm downwards, they would notice the expansive fresh-air exit I create for them – but no. Thankfully though, Window Fly Rescue is a fine art that gets better with practice and, having commenced study leave, I can boast that Earth has about three or four more living insects in it than it otherwise would. Not big savings for the planet, but hey, small victories, right?)
Perhaps the above paragraphs are evidence that we all go slightly mad when revising at home. Study leave is undoubtedly a very positive thing: we control our hours, more comfortable clothes, and no £5 limit on our food consumption (I’ll never understand that school policy). Freedom of headphone usage is a big pro, as it allows language students like me to listen to the Spanish Let it Go on a loop whilst revising vocab. But like all positive things, study leave has its idiosyncrasies. I am always amused, for example, by writing an English Literature essay, hating it to my core, then rereading it 48 hours later and thinking it’s a masterpiece. And then emailing it to my teacher and hearing back that my first instinct was right.
(Just kidding – I hope.)
At the time of writing, our position on the A-Level exam timeline is as follows: we’re in the thick of it. Everything is happening at once, and that’s not even a metaphor. If you use AQA and do my subjects, then you would have joined me simultaneously sitting English Literature and Spanish at 9am on Tuesday the 7th. Or instead, as clearly AQA believe those subjects would never be taken by the same student, sitting Spanish in the morning and remaining in isolation all day, with one’s charming invigilator captors even accompanying you to the toilet.
(They do this so you don’t communicate with anybody who has already taken the clashing exam, so in my case, to prevent me seeing other English students.)
I had the short straw. I then continued isolation overnight because the postponed English Lit had been pushed into my afternoon Maths slot. Apparently, you used to have to sleep at the headmaster’s (I have no words). Thanks to 21st century alterations, I could sign a legal waiver and they just trusted me. Which is a relief for all concerned as my headmaster lives a long way away and I’d have probably needed to get up with him at 4am.
Regardless, I think I speak for all of us when I say that we will be walking on air when this is over. The magical last day is the 24th June (which, rather charmingly, is also my dad’s birthday). Until then, it’s full on. If somebody asked me whether I was enjoying it, my answer would be a resounding no. Enjoyment is possible if you get a fun exam question (this can happen in English), but the revision interim is the opposite. The pressure to replicate the absolute best version of your work in an all-or-nothing two and a half hours three times a week for three weeks is staggering. Sitting at home, this pressure can feel insurmountable, sometimes utterly terrifying. The nice thing though is that by the time this article is published, we will probably be most of the way there, if not done, so sixth formers across the town will have forgotten all this. We’ll be lying flat on our bedroom floors recovering (me surrounded by swarms of window flies). And that will be very worth it.