An A-grade in work avoidance;Talkback

19th June 1998 at 01:00
Carrie Graham says GCSEs are designed as a true test of certain vital adult skills.

When I was younger, GCSEs seemed carefully timed to put a dampener on the wild and heady lives of 15 and l6-year-olds, much as national tests were introduced to stop the Year 9s blowing up the physics lab.

But as I and my contemporaries neared Year 11, I realised GCSEs were not invented to put a stop to adolescents' physical activities, as, in Year 9, all my female friends and acquaintances had voluntarily given up "doing" and instead started commenting on those who carried on.

Sport, music, hobbies were all left behind for the far more socially acceptable pastime of making snide comments. Some of my friends could bitch for England. So, for a time, I believed timing of the GCSEs was random and innocuous.

But as my own GCSEs rapidly approached, I realised I had again been wrong (character-building stuff, failure). The real purpose of GCSEs became increasingly apparent - they are designed to equip teenagers with vital adult skills such as procrastination, work avoidance and displacement activity.

Not that this is all bad. For the first time in years, my contemporaries are doing something productive. One friend has decided her body is a temple, so cycles to the sports centre every day to work out, or something. Another has taken up guitar and is rapidly approaching Rock God status. Think Eric Clapton meets Sid Vicious meets Thelma from Scooby Doo.

Another friend has realised a disorganised room shows a disorganised mind and has set about clearing, filing and tidying hers - for the first time ever, so her mother says.

So GCSEs are a conspiracy, but a beneficial one that sets about cleansing stagnant teenage lives, to make them healthier, more interesting.

It's amazing how people find things to do in these situations - like writing this article for instance. Did I mention I have a maths exam tomorrow?

* Carrie Graham is a Year 11 pupil at Lancaster Girls' Grammar.

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar,, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today