As the Easter holidays rear their ugly head, students up and down the country begin to hibernate. On the precipice of exam season, students studying for final assessments are opening up their textbooks for a period which will test them both academically and mentally. But are exams important? Should we allow results to define a person? Are exams truly the be-all and end-all?


For those getting ready to sit their examinations, it can appear as if everything else is comparatively unimportant. They may slowly start to neglect their mental and physical health as their study guides become their best friends. Despite being told numerous times over that it is foolish to define oneself by a letter or number, it is not uncommon for students to link their self-worth to the result they see in mid-August.


Many students internalise the idea that if they fail they will automatically fail in life. The statistics show that this is having adverse effects on their mental health. A study by the National Union of Teachers found that 94% of secondary school teachers and 76% of primary school teachers have seen students develop stress-related illnesses during exam season. The Association of Teaching and learning also discovered that 65% of teachers believe that the majority of their students are stressed out. It is a problem that students even younger than secondary schooling age are feeling immense pressure to succeed. Yet this does not mean that they should be told that exams are unimportant.


Every year celebrities attempt to comfort students on results day. For instance, Jeremy Clarkson may flash his Bentley and tweet about his C and 2Us at A-Level. But they are the exception and certainly not the rule. Exams can often be a viable metric to determine future financial success. Even the lowest value qualifications -such as GCSEs- can greatly affect the amount of money one can expect to earn across their lifetime. Those who achieve just one grade higher across nine subjects can expect to earn £207,000 more. What’s more, with more qualifications comes more money. This is why those with degrees earn -on average- £321,000 more than those without degrees


But is the cost worth it? Is it worth having your intrinsic worth linked solely to your performance on a singular day, which may have cost relationships and experiences, for the prospect of earning a few thousand pounds more?


When this question was posed to a high achieving student Lucia L, she stated, ‘It depends on what you prioritise. Maybe sometimes you have to sacrifice your mental health to some extent for academic success: But not to the point in which it puts your life at risk.'


But it is also vital to understand why this is important from a teacher's perspective. After speaking to numerous teachers it becomes evident that the overarching sentiment is that students should try and put their all into exams. Exams can help to determine a pupil's life trajectory, but all they can do is their best. They also stressed the idea that exam success should not jeopardise mental well-being.


Thus, exams are important, but students should not let the idea of failure consume them. A balance is vital and there are other routes to success. But even if exams are not the be-all and end-all, it is crucial to make some sacrifices.