As the first week of school approaches, I wanted to reflect on the fear I was feeling this time last year. In early September 2017, I started Year 11; the year at the end of which every fifteen or sixteen-year-old student in England, Wales and Northern Ireland sits their GCSE exams. I have always been relatively academic in the Subjects I excel in, such as English and history, but really struggle with logical subjects like mathematics and science. However, I was terrified of not fulfilling the high expectations I set for myself, especially when my teachers and my family believed I could easily achieve them with hard work and revision.
The phrases “hard work” and “revision” felt so vague, and most of my friends seemed more relaxed than me– either because they are naturally academic, or the pressure of exams had not hit them yet. I felt too scared to voice my worries of being unprepared so early on in the school year, so I searched GCSE exam tips on Youtube in the hopes of finding other teenagers that could relate.
Luckily I found Jade Bowler‘s channel, also known as Unjaded Jade, and Eve Bennett‘s channel, two students who aced their GCSEs a few years ago and just finished their A-levels. Their Youtube channels generally focus on studying and revision. I put their study with me videos on in the background to motivate me when making flashcards on Quizlet. This process soon developed into a revision routine by the Christmas holidays, which I spent preparing for mock exams. As well as the inspirational study with me videos, I watched Jade’s biology revision advice video, a subject I’d always had a love-hate relationship with and my grades gradually started to improve from blurting my notes and finding new ways to remember key definitions. I watched Eve’s A* English Literature tips video and started to write in a more sophisticated style which helped me achieve top grades that I desperately wanted.
In the weeks just before exam season started, my wellbeing had begun to deteriorate due to bullying, being dumped and general stress, which unfortunately resulted in an ear infection. I took a few days off to recuperate and commented on Jade’s Secondary school memories collab video with University vlogger Jack Edwards explaining how much she cheered me up after a difficult week and she replied with the very supportive message shown below that emphasizes what an encouraging community it is.
During exams, I watched less revision content in order to find time to rest. However, I still found time to watch their videos about mental health during exams to remind myself of the importance of not burning out and kept up activities like swimming as a stress reliever.
Of course, the twenty-five exams I took were exhausting and mentally draining despite the Studytube community, yet I now felt I had the tools to succeed and had learned new exam technique. After reading comments on Jade and Eve’s video’s I felt less isolated knowing there were other teenagers who also felt concerned their hard work wouldn’t be enough as that unknown factor was never discussed at my school. In the days leading up to results day last week my nerves rocketed, but I felt reassured knowing it was a natural thing and even my favorite Studytubers experienced it when waiting for their A-level results. Secondly, I felt somehow calmer knowing that I not only did hard work and revision but used Studytube to further my education and find out what revision techniques personally worked for me. I honestly do not think I could have reached the ambitious expectations I set myself without the relatable and motivating Studytube community.
So, this school year, if you feel like your behind before you’ve even started, find solace in the Studytube community a world where study advice is given, fears of failure are shared and new learning styles are explored in a warm and accessible environment.
Featured cover photo courtesy of freeforcommercialuse.net