I woke up to my phone lighting up and buzzing, notifications appearing left, right and centre.  I already knew that almost all of the messages would be about about my marks.

Marks, marks and more marks.

Even though I had deliberately removed my student emails off my phone, I didn’t want to check the notifications. The BOSTES had sent me a message the day before, notifying me that they would text my results.

Sadly, there would still be a notification about my results.

I scanned over at the clock. It was seven AM. The results had been released for about an hour. I didn’t have the slightest intention to check mine. The adrenaline racing around my body from the exam period had diminished months ago. Only to be replaced by a swarm of butterflies. I couldn’t comprehend why I was so nervous though.

I had put the effort in – A lot of effort.

Even though I still had Year 12, another year of school, and another shot at completing the course in the HSC, I was agitated. I was reluctant to check my marks.

But sadly, it was impossible to never use my phone again, OR, complete year twelve without using my student emails, so I bit the bullet. I opened the emails.


My eyes bulge. I cant breathe. An eighty-nine. An eighty-nine in Advanced English, in accelerated year 11!

A sense of euphoria envelopes me.  Finally, a sense of relief.  I struggle to contain my excitement before I wake my entire house up.  Or the whole neighbourhood.

But then I pause.

I hesitate as realisation settles in like a punch to the stomach.  My mood drops.

An 89… one mark off a 90… one mark off a Band 6…


My head swirls. Thoughts colliding and crashingIt is an existential crisis. 

A thousand ‘why’ and ‘what if’ questions rise into my consciousness.

  •  What if I repeat English?
  • What if my next mark is lower than an 89?
  • What if I get an 89 again?
  • Why couldn’t they have given me one more mark?

To say I was distressed would be the least. I had put in so much effort.

I was torn, battling an internal conflict induced by the number 89, and was left with two options. 

I could repeat English again.

  • Would it be at the detriment of my other subjects if I equaled the effort I had put in that year?
  • Could I be focusing on other subjects and their major works instead?
  • Would I become uninterested in the prescribed texts?
  • Could I possibly stand reading The Motorcycle Diaries another couple of times?

I could keep my mark of 89

  • I could have more time to put tons of effort into my other subjects and the major works attached to them.
  • I would have one less subject to worry about throughout the year.
  • I would have extra free periods at school instead of English!!!!!
  • I would never have to read The Motorcycle Diaries again!

It was a harsh battle.  Every time I would make a “final decision”, I would convince myself otherwise.  This only made the process harder, creating a cyclic pattern which didn’t end.

It took me the entire summer holidays to figure out how I would precede into year twelve – with or without English.  The entire holidays!  I could have been doing much more productive things – like going to the beach…. or studying!

It kills me saying it, but I’m glad I got an 89.

It made me realise the importance in valuing things that are within your control.

I put an enormous amount of energy, time and effort into studying for each exam and preparing for each assessment task.  This work ethic led to a school assessment mark and rank which was deserving of each task completed.  It was a direct reflection of how hard I tried.

Without realising it, I placed value within something that was in my control.  I tried my hardest and received the best possible results, based on my ability.  Therefore I controlled the mark my school sent into the board.

When it comes to the HSC, you don’t know who will mark your papers.  You don’t know whether they’re having a good day or an awful one.  You can’t argue with the markers for extra marks if you think you deserve them.

It is what it is. It is out of your control.

Que Sera Sera

By placing value within your school assessments, you can control your results. This will ultimately reflect positively on your overall mark for the HSC in a subject – half of this mark is you school mark!

There is no point questioning your mark at the end, it is beyond your control. If you placed value in what you could control and tried your best, there’s no point crying over results beyond your control.

I might be able to get a band six in English this year. But I’ll never know.

Although I do know that I value what I can control.

I put effort into each assessment task and exam, and that is all that counts.

Anyway, I couldn’t possibly stand to reread The Motorcycle Diaries again!

And I am definitely not redoing my English HSC this year!

Good Luck!

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Sibel Alca has two little problems: Perfectionism – it drives her and everyone around her insane, and her brain’s inability to decide what it wants in life. If there was a career which combined her scientific curiosity, and her performing arts passion, she’d be set. But even with her flexibility from years of dancing, Sibel is finding that it’s difficult to stay intact when opposing passions pull you in polar directions. After surviving her Preliminary HSC year while completing half her actual HSC, Sibel believes that anything is possible. She is looking forward to a lighter, perhaps easier, HSC year in 2017.