Tomorrow, I will wake up at 8:30 AM. I will shower and get dressed, probably apply some makeup to my ashen face. Next comes half an hour of full-on panic, after which I shall leave my house and walk for about 15 minutes, finally arriving at school.

I will wait outside the school gate for my best friend, Sophie. When she arrives, we will join 200 or so other 16-year-olds lined up in the hallway. As each of us gets to the front of the line, we will be handed a brown envelope with our name on it. I will stare at mine for a long moment before stuffing it into my bag.

Sophie and I will make our way back to my house, more anxious than ever. My mother will smile and try to joke with us. We will laugh nervously. Sophie and I will then go downstairs, retreat into separate bedroom, and open our envelopes.

Inside we will find the results of the GCSE exams we took a few months ago. This is a terrifying prospect, as we have spent the past five years being reminded over and over again that “these exams will shape your future” and that they “can change your lives.”

When I emerge from that bedroom, there will be tears and hugs. I’m hoping they are tears of joy—then I’ll hug my parents and Sophie and will feel happy and proud. The other possibility is scary and sad: They will be tears of misery, and hugs of condolence.

Fingers crossed. ♦