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To Sam

Starting Year 11

I am a 15 year old boy just starting year 11 and I am also starting 3 controlled assessments straight away meaning that I feel the pressure of doing well starts now! Last year, I took 2 exams early I got an A which I am pleased with and a B which is still ok but I would have liked to have achieved an A. Also, in my writing exam for Spanish, last year, I got a B which again is ok but I would have liked to got an A. With this in mind, I am unsure whether to retake those two subjects to try and get an A?

However, if I do retake, it means that I will have 4 more exams than I would have if I didn't decide to retake, over and above the other exams at the end of year 11! This means, that I will have a lot of pressure on me to get the grades I would like meaning that I have added stress making me feel very upset and depressed at times, especially when I should be revising. I would love to retake the other exams and come away from secondary school, knowing I have tried my best but I just don't know whether its worth the added stress and depression?

But also, I have no idea of what I want to do for a job, and I know that I don't need to think about working just yet but I want to at least have an idea so that if and when I go to college, I have chosen courses that are useful to the job I would like to do. It's also more difficult because I only have 1 year until I start college or do an apprenticeship but also, all my friends know what they want to do and I feel like I'm being left behind and need to think of something soon!

Thinking about exams and what I want to do as a job really makes me...I guess, scared because if I make the wrong decision now, it could potentially put me in a bad situation. Overall, it makes me upset and stressed meaning that I don't perform as well at school and at home I just want to be on my own.

I hope you can help


Ask Sam


Hi there,

It’s good to hear from you and I’m glad you’ve got in touch. From what you’ve said it sounds like you’re not totally happy with your exam results and were hoping to do better. Around this time of year lot of people tell me about the mixed feelings they have about their results.

I can hear that resitting is one option for you but there are some important things to think about before you do this. You said that resitting will cause you added stress next year and I wonder if you think this could end up affecting your other results too? It’s really important to talk to your teacher about what they suggest and if they feel resitting is a good idea for you. How much difference would it make to you to have As instead of Bs for the two subjects you’ve mentioned? Don’t forget, for most employers and sixth form colleges, B is still an excellent GCSE grade. Unless there is a very specific reason why you need an A, it’s worth thinking carefully if it’s really worth the extra stress. It’s great to achieve really outstanding results, but your emotional wellbeing is really important too. It’s not helpful to push yourself so hard that you end up burning out.

Around exam time lots of people think about their future and what job they might want. I want to let you know that it’s not unusual to be feeling unsure about what you want to do. Normally schools and colleges have a careers staff that you might be able to talk about your options with, they would be able to give you advice focused on your results.

Alternatively, the National Careers Service website has a young person’s section that might be helpful for you to look at. There is also information and advice about making decisions in Explore as well as on the message boards. I can hear that you’re really stressed about making the wrong choice now, but none of us can predict the future, so all you can do is make the best decision you can right now. If you’re not happy with your choice, there’s likely to be a chance to change direction later down the line. Plenty of adults will decide to change their careers or do more exams, even if it’s many years since they first left college!

A ChildLine counsellor is also someone you could talk over your feelings with in confidence. You can get in touch with a ChildLine counsellor by email, or by logging on for a 1-2-1 chat (like instant messenger) or calling on 0800 1111, which is free and won’t show up on any bills.

Take care,


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