Post-exam discussions about what answers you gave have been replaced by social media frenzies, writes a student blogger
Sometimes it's best not to discuss answers after an exam – you might just end up stressed. Photograph: Alamy
A few weeks ago, I took my GCSE English literature exam. Everything seemed to go well – the questions were predictably similar to past papers and the unseen poem, (Long Distance II by Tony Harrison,) was easy to understand and empathise with – or so I thought. But logging onto my Twitter account I found a completely different story.
How could it be that after preparing so much for the exam, working so hard on my analysis, I had failed to notice that crucial detail? It may have been subtly contained in a single line – "you haven't both gone shopping" – but I was still kicking myself.
The reaction on Twitter was instant. The majority of responses were filled with frustration, some along the lines of "stupid unseen poem" or the beautifully understated "I think I may have misinterpreted that last Long Distance II text a little bit". Most were sprinkled creatively with expletives.
But there were a few, slightly smug tweets, along the lines of: "So happy that I picked up on the fact that the father died in the literature exam today!" which just rubbed salt into the wound.
After an anxious exchange of capitalised messages with friends, including many, many variations of "WHAT" and "HOW" peppered with emoticons, I decided that this revelation would not, in fact, cause us all to fail.
Nevertheless, our reactions were undoubtedly a warning signal to the excess stress that using social media can cause in an already nerve-racking time of year. Students love social media, but having instant contact with other students post-exam can do more bad than good.
Logging onto Twitter is a good way to "torture yourself after the exam by looking up answers" as one student at my school put it. Some might say it is the internet equivalent of those unpleasant experiences outside the exam hall where the answers are discussed between students. Discussions like this cause extra stress – and Twitter gives students a bigger platform to add to each others worries.
In spite of the stress, next exam season I won't be deleting my Twitter account – I just won't be logging on straight after an exam. Throughout the exam period it can be a useful place to share revision tips and talk to other students in the same position as you. Revising can be a lonely experience, and social media makes you realise that you're all in it together. Just don't spend too long worrying about that one question you got wrong.