Mere Alphabets?

Areeba Sarwar

As O level and A level results loomed over our heads, teenagers all across the globe felt the pressure of said and unsaid expectations. This year, the stress was worse than ever because this year students had no control over the consequences. The nervousness of sitting for examinations was replaced by uncertainty, anxiety, and helplessness.

Results and stress naturally go hand in hand. This year both of these had evolved to take a new form. Students were not graded based on the exams they gave. Instead, they were given grades based on their previous achievements, their institution’s academic history, predicted grades amongst other variables. Consequently, the stress took on a novel form. It was born from the feeling of not being in the know, from parental pressure, from uncertainty.

As the day came nearer, A level and O level students got more and more jittery. Everyone hoped to get the grades they deserve, hopefully even better. Eventually, it seemed like the ultimate stroke of luck. For each individual, the stakes seemed to be unbearably high. The stress levels piled up even further.

On the 13th of August, some could not believe their luck while for others, it was a harsher reality. As some got the results they felt they deserved, others had theirs inflated or deflated. For all, the outcome seemed virtual, but some could only wish that it was. Those who had their grades deflated went from being relieved at not having to sit for exams to only wishing that they were given that opportunity. 

As some protested the injustice done to them, others chose to remain quiet, trying not to jeopardize the luck that had worked in their favor. While some students felt their worlds crashing around them, others had the privilege of empathizing. Demands for appeals were made and silent tears were shed. As students see their futures change shape before their eyes, I cannot help but wonder why such a huge burden is placed on the shoulders of mere alphabets. 

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