Exam Dreams

I had a dream a few weeks ago that stuck with me.


Dream Hannah discovered she could retake her A Levels now, at the age of twenty-seven. The exams were to take place in two days: she only had the weekend to revise. That would be enough. Being much older and wiser(!), surely she could achieve higher grades than her underwhelming CDD ten years ago?

She revised all day and all night. Finally, Mum came into her room and asked what she was doing.

After Dream Hannah explained it to her, Mum said, ‘Hannah, you have a First in your bachelor’s degree and a Distinction in your master’s. Why are you doing this?’

‘Oh.’ Dream Hannah thought for a moment. ‘Yeah, that’s true. Why am I doing this?’

She put her textbooks away. Real Hannah woke up.


I sometimes have nightmares about finding myself in an exam and not having ever seen the syllabus. Eek! Mum also has dreams about her A-Level exams, even decades later.

I thought this recent dream was interesting because, instead of being terrified about an experience, it was about making peace with it. It was the realisation of how little that ‘failure’ mattered. It hasn’t made any difference to my life, except…

My disappointing A Level results taught me to work efficiently for the things that mattered to me, whether academically or in other areas, and gave me the determination to do better in the future. And I did.

My life is much better from having learnt that important lesson, so even if I could go back in time, I wouldn’t. Twenty-seven-year-old-Hannah is having far too much fun!

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