15 Aug 2019
Tears. Joy. Jaeger Bombs. A-Level results day is a minefield of emotion and we are so here for it.
A-level results day.
Yes. The Omaha Beach of results days. Truly one of the most significant dates in the British cultural calendar.
If you're unfamiliar with A-level results day, imagine this: You, all of your closest friends, and every other nobody that you had the pleasure of floundering your way through secondary education with, are all standing in the playground on a hot summer's day. Then, one by one, you all get to find out whether or not you’ve ruined your fucking life.
Afterwards, completely regardless of the outcome, every single one of you piles into the nearest Wetherspoons for a ceremonial last supper of strawpedo’d VKs and viscous shots dropped into cheap energy drinks. You will stay there for hours until the rubbish local nightclub in your suburban town opens its doors. From there, pretty much anything goes. It’s A-level results day after all - normal rules do not apply:
The sheer scale of A-level results day is what makes it deserving of such national pride. The stakes have never been higher for these young men and women and, for many, they will never get this embarrassingly drunk again. It is a momentous occasion - an entire generation comes together as one to bask in glory or wallow in sadness and yet, either way, they're all going to end up spooning a double vodka coke and belting out Mr. Brightside.
Not every student will get the grades they need to get into their university of choice; that's just life. However, that’s not to say there aren’t silver linings to students missing out on their university offers. Remember, one 18-year-old’s misery can be another’s joy.
1. The teacher’s pet. That kid who stays behind after class, who talks to the teacher out of choice in their free time. When they mess up a grade - oof - there’s absolutely nothing like it. Here you get a double whammy of disappointment from both teacher and student. Their relationship will never be the same, crushed at the final opportunity and tainted forever in the memories of both parties. Absolute scenes.
2. That smug student who never studies for anything and always aces exams? They’re going to get a grade much, much lower than they anticipated and it’s going to be so delicious. Keep an eye out for their face dropping as they slide the results out of the envelope. Pure, unadulterated shock and despair - the kind that makes you want to kiss your fingers like an Italian chef. Bellissimo.
3. The smart kid. The kid that has been a shoe-in for Oxbridge since his inception in a Surrey guest room. He’s going to miss out on his university offer by a miniscule amount. His parents will be furious with the school. They will be charging around the playground, crumpled certificate in hand, paying absolutely no attention to their child who will be having the biggest breakdown of their life so far. You will get to watch.
4. If you're unable to collect your results in person and you don't want to miss the gruelling emotional torture, chuck the telly on. You might be lucky enough to witness one of these moments:
After you’ve navigated the initial killing fields, students sprawled across the playground with thousand-yard stares like a scene out of Saving Private Ryan, then there's the heinous process of clearing.
As if the day so far has not been enough of an ordeal, the final leg of the emotional rollercoaster, before you get absolutely off your trolley down at Wonderland Sutton™, is for those poor troops that have been left behind to go through one more gruelling procedure: calling up the clearing helpline and taking literally any degree they can get their hands on.
People’s entire life trajectory will change in the course of a single phone call.
“Mechanical Engineering? No, no, your child is miles off the grade boundary for that. We can offer Dentistry with a foundation year.”
And so it goes. Archaeologists become accountants and doctors become art historians in a first-come-first-served feeding frenzy, every parent desperate to saddle their child with £30,000 in debt by almost any means necessary.
It's chaos, truly. But it's also a relentless and quintessentially British learning curve.
The elation, the anguish, and the sheer volume of cheap alcohol that will be consumed makes A-level results day one of our country’s finest cultural ceremonies. A sort of coming of age, where many of us will experience the crushing brutalism of life as an adult for the very first time.
No, you will not always get what you want. No, things will not always go to plan. No, life is not a walk in the park. But despite all of this, win or lose, clearing or no, at the end of the day we all end up on the same sticky dancefloor.
Whatever your grades this results day, remember that there are more important things to life than A-levels. Belting out britpop anthems is one, dancing with your closest friends is another.
As a nation we know all too well the ferocious gutpunch of a disappointing result - but we must remember that the result is not the real test of our character.
The true display of character comes from soldiering bravely onwards in the face of adversity, partying into the night, and not letting anything prevent you from sinking five Jaeger Bombs for a fiver at Wonderland Sutton™.