My huge A-Level mistake

You've revised for your exams, completed the questions and are pretty confident everything went well. What could possibly go wrong? As 19 year-old Richard discovered, quite a bit. He tells us how his life was turned upside-down after he accidentally handed in his A-level question sheet, rather than his answer paper.

True Stories

stressed boy doing exam

"I still can't believe what I did."

Sitting my exams

I was doing my final A-level exams last year, and I was down to my last set of exams; English Language & Literature. I finished the exam and it all went well, I was very confident that I’d get my predicted B. I sat tired after five hours of exams and the lady came round collecting the papers in. She picked up my paper and moved on. I collected my various texts and sheets together and left the exam hall. It was over!

The bad news

When I got home I unpacked my bag to get my stuff out and I was horrified at what I saw; my answer paper. My entire world turned upside down. The examiners had taken the wrong papers in and I stupidly didn’t realise.

As a result, my firm and insurance uni choices didn’t take me. I went into clearing and was generally unaccepted. I went to a very reputable school, and my head of year was afraid the school would lose its reputation and didn’t feel that he could help me. All my friends were off to uni and everyone was celebrating – except me.

Change of direction

So, I was forced to take a gap year and retake my English exam the next summer. In some ways it’s the best thing that happened to me. I got to experience full-time work to raise money for travelling. I had hardly any money so I worked loads of overtime at the soap factory I worked at; within a couple of months I’d saved thousands. I went to Thailand with a friend, who was also taking a year out, and it was amazing. I’ve seen and experienced so much, I’ve grown as a person and I feel that when I go to uni I will be much more mature and wise.

I hadn’t even considered a gap year before, I just sent off my UCAS stuff and thought that gap years were something other people did, not me. Now I think everyone should consider a gap year; it’s the best thing you can do. Don’t be one of those people that will be saying “I wish I did that” in 30 years.

I’m now planning to go to India in a few months. I’d strongly encourage others to take a gap year; it’ll strengthen your CV and give you some amazing experiences and memories. It shows that no matter how bad it may be, you can always turn it around… well most of the time.

Next Steps


Updated on 29-Sep-2015

Photo of boy in exam by Shutterstock