Thinking about A-level results day


Can I join in, even though I'm a Scottish student so had Highers and CSYS's instead? I do remember my exam results - Highers 20 years ago, CSYS 1 year later. I was a nervous wreck waiting for them. The final year's results weren't so critical because the Highers came the year before, and got me into uni, so then I had another year at school studying CSYS knowing I was going to uni. But it was still a nervous time waiting for any results.

Of course now I'm doing a PhD I'm not even doing the subject I did at uni when I started 19 years ago. Things have totally changed for me, including a change in direction, albeit a very good one. It's not what I planned, but then I didn't plan on falling seriously ill and having to leave the first PhD. But it gave me a chance to re-evaluate my life, and study the other subject I adored, albeit part-time this time. And hopefully will shortly finish in PhD form :)

I actually lost my school certificates in a house move, so a few months ago I obtained replacement copies from the Scottish Qualifications Authority. It was quite nice looking at them again, remembering back to school days. Very fond memories of that time. Life was much easier as a school pupil. But then I am happy now too.

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Quote From eska:

That's a good job to have had, did you pick up loads of tips?

Lol I tried - I interviewed students about what had gone well/badly with their phds and how to avoid the pitfalls. So I started off thinking "well I am never going to do any of that, my PhD will be a complete success" and 2 years later, I have fallen down all the same holes and am in a similar position to all the people who said their PhD went from bad to worse lol - Seeing the bright side!

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Actually, in terms of funding that gets granted, a lot of it was about actually just applying and being cheeky. The unievrsities that applied and knew about all the up to date schemes they RCs were offereing usually got the most - other unis just were not clued up on how/where/what funding was available, or whether they could even apply


God I remember mine too - I felt on top of the world.  I got the grades I needed and got into the uni I wanted. Did I ever think back then that 10 years later I would be doing a PhD?? Nope!

What I don't remember is much of the night after my results - I had far too much to drink hehe.

I am still really god friends with some of my old school mates and we meet up a few times a year - we always reminisce about 'the good old days'


I got mine 3 years ago, practically failed them (under my school's standards) after doing quite well at GCSE and was really upset. Just about got into my 2nd choice university, loved my degree and got a First...starting my MSc next month! A friend at school who was deputy head girl was asked to make a list of everyone's results as most of the girls would have graduated this year, I'm sure most of the teachers will be very shocked to see mine!


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Quote From eska:

Hi CeCeF: am not beating myself up! Just mourning the stress to my bank account... and the extra years of part - time study before I get my lecturing post.

You have my sympathy: I am now entering my 6th year of part-time study (although hope to be done in January). So I know what it's like to be in it for the long-haul! The hilarious (!) thing is that I've been told that if current AHRC procedures had been in place five years ago, the department would have given me an award. (We're one of the three institutions that sneaks mentioned, and the department has 4 AHRC this year, 5 next year and 5 the year after that!) Anyway, such is life! And I've just been accepted for publication in a top journal (sorry to be boasty!), so it can't all be bad...

Anyway, back to the original subject of A levels: I feel a bit sorry for the students when every news report mentions that next year it's going to get harder, that they have got too easy, etc. Even if it's true, let them have their day of glory!


Well in the dim and distant past when I took my 'A' levels, As were a novelty! I didn't get any As or Bs but my best friend got 4As, Physics, Chemistry, Pure maths and Applied maths! - she got her first choice of uni easily -they just asked her to get 2Es!!!). mind you, there was none of this going to school to get the results, they just came in the post. I was a sort of just averageish pupil, with lots of other things going on so study wasn't always my top priority,- I had to work as well, it wasn't out of school activities of the relaxing kind (However she hasn't done anything after getting her degree, so I may consider that I've caught up now after a late start too)


It's been nearly 30 years for me! I was mildly disappointed (ABB) but in those days a standard offer from a good uni was never more than CCC. School was a breeze - much too easy and I just took it for granted. I had intended to go into research since I was about 13 but things started to go pair-shaped as an undergrad and although I got my 2.1 things went very downhill from there on. Dropped out of postgrad twice and couldn't seem to hold a job either - had a complete breakdown at 25. I kept thinking I had hit bottom - but I was wrong... Started to get back on track in my late 20s but never thought I would get back on this horse again!

This time around I am more stable (though I will never win any mentally-stable-of-the-year awards) and extrememly tenacious. I could never have been this tenacious and bloody-minded when I was younger. The downside is that I have a family to wrap this around - but my family give me the stability I need so it's all swings and roundabouts. I know there are a lot of you out there in your 20s doing this - well done you!


I can clearly remember my A levels as I did them not that long ago - I studied for them one evening a week per subject for two years in night school and completed them in 2003! I remember so well the sheer terror being handed the envelope and the complete ecstasy of seeing that actually I could cut it :-) My O levels I didn't do so well in, an A and 6 Cs and I left school and did lots of rubbish jobs - if someone had told me even 5 years ago that I'd be a year into a PhD with a first class BA and a distinction at MA under my belt I'd have laughed myself silly!

I too feel so bad for the kids - they'd already started this 'they're too easy' stuff when i got mine and I'd worked so very very hard for my results - there is nothing quite like working yourself to the bone, getting wonderful results and having the media say 'yeh, but.....'

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CeCeF: Congrats on the publication! That's great.

Yeah, I resent all this media noise about A'Levels being easier: students just work REALLY hard now. Back in 1995, when I took mine, my parents, who both have degrees, could not believe how hard I was working, and I was just doing the same as my peers. I think A'levels used to be something school kids would fit around growing up - now it seems to be vice versa - life is just generally harder work now and kids know that. Plus teachers and students are more savvy to the system, and how to prepare for exams.


Yes, I am shocked at the amount of homework kids seem to do these days. I used to be an educational publisher and the A level materials in my field (sci & maths) didn't seem to be getting any easier. It seems that students are really crammed for exam performance these days.


Only 6 years ago for me.... I got ABB and was a bit disappointed (I was an A-A* student at GCSE). From that moment I vowed to get a first in my degree. And I did.

I hated A-levels :-s:p


Having never done A levels id be very interested to hear people thoughts on them. How would you rate them compared to other international equivalents.: scope, depth... as preparation for uni?( I did the Irish leaving cert) Ive been living in the UK for a few years now and all I hear year in, year out is that the A levels have been getting easier. I know everyone likes to blow their own country's trumpet and claim their second level system is harder or more comprehensive, but can anyone back this up?

So many people applied to Cambridge last year with A grades that they brought in the A* star grade to distinguish candidates and I've heard of oxbridge considering bringing in their own entrance exams

I often think that people are asking the wrong questions when they talk about exams being to easy or hard. I would of thought the important question whether or not the subjects are studied at a high enough level to prepare student for either further study at third level or prepare them for jobs in the big bad world.

What has often puzzled me is how many A levels people do? I take it that most do 2 or 3 , but Ive met a few people who did 5 and Ive heard of people doing even more. also Ive heard you are accepted into uni on the back of your predicted results rather than your actual results??

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A levels are traditionally more 'proper' subjects - and are academic rather than practical, wheras other qualifications such as GNVQa (I think they got rid of those) and BTECs are more practical. They introduced the AS level, so you would take 4 AS levels, then take 3 on to get an A2 level, to make it more like the international bacalauriat (sp!?).

A lot of my friends did 5 A levels, but it usually didn't help them get anywhere, I think if you get 3 good ones then its fine. Universities accept UCAS points - or they did in my day! so you will receive usually, a conditional offer based on your predictive grades, and then the condition is that you get so many points - they can stipulate that those points must include e.g. A in maths (which would be 160 points I think!?)

So if you did the AS level and/or more a levels you have more points - but you also run the risk of getting 5 bad grades cos you have had to spread yourself so thin!


I should add that similar media accusations are made each year about the Irish leaving cert being made easier but I wouldn't say its completely without foundation. I understand this can be a bit of a touchy subject for people on both a personal and national level, but maybe the A levels have been getting easier?

Every one is inclined to the defend their education system especially if they have worked very hard for their results, but rather than just laughing off these media claims as nonsense do people not think there is could be some element of truth in this? At least in some A level subjects, not necessarily all