Grateful For Exams? Well, at least they are over – for now. (Till the real ones.)

On Monday I was thankful the last exam was over. Okay, I didn’t actually sit any of them, but I did study for one** or two (sort of) and definitely I stood helpfully by with hugs, soothing words and warm drinks and I helped find lost books and papers. These are, of course, just the practice exams, and the real ones that result in certificates never-before-seen aren’t for a few months time. But they will be a doddle* in comparison, since they are spread over 5 weeks instead of one week and a day.

I’m not in the habit of ranting on-line. Sometimes I do  rant in real life, but I realise that what I don’t like in someone else is just what I don’t like or repress in myself. This means I must have a ferocious exam-creating-bureaucrat inside me who is just desperate to get out and make teenagers’ lives as stressful as possible. Whoever created the brand new Scottish qualifications for fifteen and sixteen years olds must have (a) forgotten what it’s like to be a teenager, (b) way too much time on their hands, (c) forgotten what it’s like to be a teacher and (d) forgotten what it’s like to have a life. 

* for anyone outside the UK: doddle = easy peasy

**And just in case you are wondering, the exam I studied for was Art Appreciation, or critical activity or art criticism or something. The name changes with the wind – let’s just say it’s the exam where kids write about art instead of doing it, and the teaching of it apparently involves showing pupils pictures by famous artists and saying, “This would never pass the exam.” I used to teach art, and yet I had no clue what the requirements were for this exam. So we got a book produced by SQA (which stands or Sadistic Qurazy A——- – oops sorry, I mean Scottish Qualifications Authority****) and we worked out what daughter needed to do. At least I think we did, though I might be deluded on that. I’m not sure the teachers know even.

On Tuesday I was thankful that the first exam result was a good one. Enough said.

On Wednesday I was thankful for my physiotherapy appointment. Shoulder still hurts but less than it did. I was also thankful for a nice café nearby that had a pot of tea for £1.50. I thought I might have time travelled back to 2000, but no, a while later my husband arrived and it was 2014. I knew this for sure because his phone kept pinging to signal text messages arriving with more exam results. Yes, I think she probably was in class when sending some of them, but she was excited! More texts, this time from younger daughter who had tests this week (not serious practice exams with a timetable, but still important because the Sadistc – oops – SQA likes to keep kids on their toes with a test or two every week.) And yes, younger daughter did well too. So I was thankful for text messaging and mobile phones. And for daughters being pleased with their results. 

(Cool aside here: I picked 2000 at random but it turns out that 2001 was the year mobile/cell phone text messaging became commonplace! And that’s not a photo of the cup of tea I had, but it is a photo of a cup of tea.)

On Thursday I was thankful for Bookbaby. I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this company before, but I love their website. They would probably prefer it if I signed up to give them money to publish all my ebooks, but I’m still hoping a great big publisher like Little, Brown or Vintage or Faber and Faber to come along and give me money for publishing them! And so I’ve only self-published in e-book form so far. But, I love, love, love Bookbaby’s site. They have so many great articles full of useful advice for writers. Up till Twitter has been the place where I reply, “I am working on it, honest!” when Lizzi sends a message @Yvonne__Spence,*** saying “It’s TToT time, are you in?” This week I learned that Twitter isn’t such a terrifying place after all, thanks to Bookbaby’s free download on How To Promote Your Book on Twitter: a sane strategy for busy writers. (If you don’t have a book, their suggestions would be fine for any writer.)

*** If you follow me on Twitter, note the new username.

On Friday morning, I was thankful that I didn’t have to get up at the same time as my husband at far-too-early o’ clock. He was going to work, but if I had been getting up then it would have been to have an operation. It hasn’t been cancelled, but it has been postponed because things have improved and I am hopeful that the op might never be needed, especially since I am taking prescribed herbs and following Dr Lissa Rankin’s suggestions in Mind Over Medicine. (And which I reviewed here yesterday!)

By Friday evening I was thankful for a productive day when I’d managed to meet my writing aspirations with some novel writing and one and a half blog posts. I love when it all seems to flow.

And now it’s Saturday and I am thankful the rain has stopped, that older daughter is starting voluntary work in a charity bookshop and younger daughter has baked sugar free, wholemeal cup cakes. I am not currently supposed to eat any refined grains and she used Rapadura Organic Whole Sugar, which is the sugar equivalent of whole grain. So I could eat a cupcake (minus the icing, but I don’t like icing anyway.)

And finally, I am thankful that we can mess around and joke about exams and SQA and so on. It relieves the pressure. We have decided that the SQA is not a bunch of people with real lives, but a great big squidgy entity that hovers somewhere just above the ground, and it feeds on teenage worries in the same way that pimples do. Actually maybe it’s really a giant pimple.

So, if you’d like to read more thankful posts, or to join in with one of your own, click the button below.

Ten Things of Thankful


  1. Glad you mentioned Bookbaby…I’ve been thinking about using it. My Hub self-published several CDs through CD Baby and he has positive things to say about the experience. He’s not exactly making millions, but publishing his CDs has been a thing he wanted to and it was a great option.

    Lots of good moments of thankful here. Aren’t exams the worst? From the perspective of both student and teacher, I can see the pros and cons but still…exams are the worst.

    Hope you have a wonderful week!

    1. Lisa, I didn’t know there was a CD Baby too. Not that I’m planning on making one, but a friend might be so it’s good to know.

      As for exams, yes they are (possibly) necessary though not fun. I’ve been fortunate in that in almost everything I’ve done since I left school coursework has been assessed instead of exams. Still can result in late nights finishing stuff off, but not as bad as exams.
      Thanks for visiting my blog.

  2. OUF! The SQA sound like idiots. I’m trying to deal with City&Guilds at the moment, for the qualification I’m taking, and OW! those guys seem to go out of their way to obfuscate everything they can. So I’m REALLY glad that the results were good in your household.

    Going for tea sounds like a great idea. In fact, I think you’ve hit the nail on the head. I’ve been sat here the last half hour, with a slight headache and a feeling that *something* is off, and it’s that. There’s too much blood in my tea-stream.

    A good list, and glad to have your updated Twitter contact (so I can keep plaguing you about the TToT and anything else which comes to mind) 🙂

    1. Lizzi, interesting that you chose the word “idiot” to describe the SQA – I used Word’s thesaurus to try to find an anagram of idiot that began with A, and Word had nothing at all. Maybe it was Microsoft’s way of telling me not to be so judgmental! But this new exam system is so exhausting for the kids and for the teachers too, from what I hear. The SQA could do with coming to a school for a year or so and seeing what it’s like to have to implement all the million tests and so on. It sounds like City&Guilds may be similar though.

      “Too much blood in my tea-stream” – I like that!

      The Twitter thing was weird. I’ve wanted to change it for ages, but thought I’d have to open a new account. When I discovered I could just change my user name I thought it would be straightforward and then I realised it’s not quite as simple as I’d thought. But keep plaguing away…

  3. The SQA exams remind me of our MAP testing (Missouri Assessment Program). They are ridiculously hard, start in 3rd grade, and have forced the teachers to teach to the test. Stressful for teachers and especially for the kids, because they put so much pressure on them to do well.

    That cupcake looks too good to be healthy!

    1. Dyanne, yes, having to teach to the test is exactly what teachers say here too. There are tests earlier on but they aren’t as big a deal. These exams my older daughter just sat are practice exams, and the finals result in qualifications. Some kids then leave school at 16, but for those who don’t how well they do determines what subjects they can do the last 2 years of high school. Older daughter’s year is the first to do the new exams and the work load is huge.

      And the cup cake is definitely healthy! 🙂

  4. I am glad Yvonne that your week was a productive week with your test and also to be able to write a few pages on your novel.
    Those brownies look scrumptious 🙂
    have a good week and yes, chill out with your kids 🙂

  5. now this is the kind of Post I would like to write! Direct, concise, but with a style that lets the Reader put themselves in the picture… which I did pretty much with the test taking part. I used to love to take tests but hated to finish them, as I would almost always be the first one to finish and I then had to decide how long I should pretend that I was not yet, in fact, done taking the test. I didn’t mind being the first one to complete the exam, but if I finished in 25 minutes an exam that should take 50, I was afraid to hand in my pencil and test booklet.
    fin read this week!
    good luck with the medical issues

    1. Clark, that is so sweet of you! Thank you!
      And your story of being pretending to still be working in the test was funny! I was never the first out of exams because I always worried I’d forgotten something.

  6. Those tests do not sound fun. Here in the land of “it doesn’t matter how you pass, we’ll give you a diploma, but reduce school funding based on the test scores” the whole thing gives me a headache. Just last year after over 10 years of teaching to a test, that disembodied head decided that it is important for kids to critically think. Imagine THAT!!?
    *steps away from soapbox*
    Congrats on the good scores. What a relief! There is no better way to celebrate it than with tea. That cupcake looks like a true luxury. Keep up the good work.
    I will have to check out Bookbaby.

    1. Rebecca ours are supposed to critically think as well as do tests every week. I think there’s a few of us on the same soapbox so I do wonder who it is that wants these constant tests.
      Thanks for stopping by.

  7. Ugh, why is everyone so hooked on testing these days? I mean, it has its place if its used well, but that seems to be rare indeed. I am impressed with the healthy muffins as I prepare to bake my decadent birthday cake.

    1. I agree, Sarah. Some testing has its place, but already after these major exams, my daughter had another test today! It’s way over the top.
      Hope you had a good birthday yesterday and didn’t eat too much cake!

  8. Here’s to not getting up on Friday for an operation and I’m sending great thoughts your way that it won’t ever be needed. And that’s cool that texting came out in 2001. Isn’t it weird to think about how dependent we are on things like this that weren’t even around? Mind blowing.
    Oh and don’t get me started on schools and testing. I might never shut up. The whole system is beyond messed up and the poor kids – UGH. Anyway.
    Yum to the brownies!

    1. Kristi, not getting up on Friday for the op was probably what I was most thankful of all about last week.
      Texting was around before 2001, but not in any way that most people could use it. I think that it was too expensive before that or something. And yes, it is amazing how much has changed in that time.

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