Don’t let them fool you.
Exams measure memory, adherence to rules and ability to apply other people’s rules to your work. Or else they try to measure creativity, which anyone worth their salt knows can not be measured, it is merely a matter of opinion.
Throughout your life you will belong to many systems. Systems are mostly a good thing. They create social structures which support and benefit those in them, they give us purpose and place, and they are mostly for the greater good, I think. The problem is that sometimes these systems fall in to the wrong hands and create false ideals, like the education system.
A lot of my teenage years were spent thinking I wasn’t smart, or at least I wasn’t smart enough. At school I was an average graded student and excelled a just a couple of creative subjects over all of the others. I spent hours crying over Pythagoras’ theorem – it didn’t make sense and everyone kept telling me I NEEDED to know it. Actually, I didn’t. My maths teachers clearly hadn’t considered the imminent boom of the internet, because I just checked and there’s an online Pythagoras calculator. All those tears shed for nothing (not saying it’s not good to be able to make our own calculations, but for someone like me that finds these things impossible, letting a machine do it is no bad thing.) And even the creative subjects I considered myself good at, I’d rarely get above a C (or sometimes B). For instance in Drama, because I wasn’t great at writing a three hour exam paper on how I would direct a play, I walked away with a low B.* If they had have just asked me to direct a play, I could have done it. And even then the mark I received would only have been subjective, as any art is always in the eye of the beholder. Throughout my adolescence I was reduced to a grade, which defined whether I was doing okay in life or not. A little secret Lottie, these grades are just letters, they predict nothing of how your future may play out.
As I’ve grown older, I’ve discovered ways I’m intelligent which there is no measure for, or acknowledgement to in the education system. I wasn’t even aware of my creative intelligence and intuition during my school days, I was always told off for talking too much – ha! I’m a storyteller, of course I talked too much . Creativity in the system is based on a series of rules and ideals. I once had to do an art exam where my work was graded on it’s likeness to Picasso’s and my adherence to his rules – the thing is, if we’re always doing what somebody else has done before, then we’ll never find anything new.
This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t work hard, or try your best, but hold it in your heart that you ARE intelligent, regardless of what the test results say. You can be linguistically intelligent, logical-mathematically intelligent, spatially intelligent, naturalistically intelligent, bodily-kinestheticaly intelligent, musically intelligent, interpersonally intelligent or intrapersonally intelligent.** Just look at all of those different kinds of intelligent you can be. No one can really measure intelligence, even if they pretend they can. Once you leave school, your grades only play a minor part in your progress, what counts is your determination, your ability to work hard and set goals for yourself, to apply yourself to the things you want to achieve. Ten years after leaving school with average grades, I’m doing good. I’d gotten sick of it all by the end of Sixth Form and more or less dropped out, popping back in to do my A-levels at the end of the year. I went to work in a cafe instead, and do things I saw more beneficial that scoring a few A-levels. I’m not advocating this, not at all, school is important and good A-levels will be the measure by which a University will accept or reject your application. Not always, your Mum and I both found courses to accept us regardless of our grades, because neither of us were ‘academically’ (test-paper) intelligent. Just know that your grades aren’t the be all and end all. Give it your best shot and don’t fret about it. Nowadays, I earn a fairly good wage. I’m a good drama teacher. I think I’m an okay writer, despite not having an English degree, or even doing well at English A-level (and I still struggle with believing that I can be good at this sometimes, because I didn’t get the best grades.) I didn’t do very well in my drama A-level, but eventually went to an Arts School, got a degree and went on to do a bit of acting and theatre stuff. I’m happy, I’m healthy, I have enough money for rent and coffee, I have AMAZING friends and I NEVER, EVER have to use Pythagorus’ Theorum.
*I’m not saying Cs, Bs or even Ds and Es aren’t good, but there was always disappointment in never quite being an A grade student, no matter how hard I tried.
**Linguistic Intelligence: Intelligence with language and words.
Logical-mathematical intelligence: Good at maths, logic, understanding and applying rules.
Spacial Intelligence: Good spatial judgement and ability to visualise with the mind’s eye.
Naturalist Intelligence: Good at understanding things in nature and the natural world.
Bodily-kinesthetic Intelligence: Good control of one’s body motions and ability to skillfully handle objects.
Musical Intelligence: Sensitivity to sounds, rhythms, tones and music.
Interpersonal Intelligence: Sensitivity to other people’s moods, feelings, temperaments and motivations. Also good at group work and co-operation.
Intrapersonal Intelligence: A good understanding of ones self; your strengths/ weaknesses are, and being able to predict your own reactions/emotions.