Day 5: The CAPE Conundrum

Question: Has there ever been a time when you thought of ending your own life?

Here in the Caribbean we do some examinations commonly referred to as CXC (proper name: CSEC) and CAPE which have been established to determine ‘scholastic aptitude’ at the Fifth Form and Sixth Form levels respectively. Growing up, I’ve always heard of persons committing suicide because of the pressure associated with writing such exams, more so the CAPE examinations and I always wondered, why would you want to take your life over some dumb exam? It’s not the end of the world! But alas, you never truly understand what somebody’s going through until you walk in their shoes.

Two years ago, I got my chance to see what all the fuss was about the CAPE examinations and for the entire year I spent in Lower Six I felt like I had made the biggest mistake continuing on with secondary school education, but what was my other option? Go straight to University? Get a job and become fully immersed in the world? That sounded a whole lot worse IMO.

The gap between the fifth form and sixth form curriculum is so wide! Many days I found myself wondering: so what exactly did I spend the last five years of my life learning/doing? Why didn’t you just teach me this if I was going to need it anyway? Not only that, there’s so much work to do! The material you have t cover is one thing, then the Internal Assessments you have to do. It all just felt like there was too much to do in such a short space of time.

For a very long while, everyday I would think to myself ‘What are you really doing?’ I had imagined that perhaps death would be so much better than all the stress I was under. But I’m terribly afraid of death and merely not existing, so actually committing suicide was never something that I was *seriously* considering.

Luckily, I’m a pretty optimistic person and a firm believer in ‘everything happens for a reason’ so I felt that what I was experiencing then was only going to serve as motivation for me when I look back at times when I made it through the struggle. Upper Six wasn’t half bad and especially considering I was doing over three of the four exams I had written the year before and my work load was going to be double what I had to do in Lower Six, it wasn’t half bad at all. I don’t recall ever wanting to drive off of a cliff or die a slow miserable death.

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