No Man’s Land: Tackling the Period Between Exams and the Summer Holidays

June 29, 2022

We’ve all thought it at one point in our lives: why, oh why are UK students made to go back to school after exams have finished prior to the start of the summer holidays? For decades exams have been scheduled to end a few weeks before the end of term, leaving a somewhat baffling period in which students half-heartedly start on the following year’s syllabus, wistful glances out of the window punctuating their lacklustre lessons.

It turns out there are good reasons for maintaining these sleepy post-exam school days, from tying up loose ends to general administration, so there is indeed a method to this end of year madness. But when you’re freshly emerged from the fog of exams and all you want to do is go to bed and not resurface until September, few justifications for these last weeks at school will seem sufficient. So, instead of asking ‘why?!’ and wallowing in the weirdness of this disorienting time, here are a few ways to inject some life into those stagnant days and ensure you’re making the most of them.

Take some time to recover from exams

It might be back-to-school time for now but hard work deserves to be rewarded. Let your body readjust, catch up on the sleep you might have missed, treat yourself to some me-time. Recovering from the intensity of exams is an important part of this serene period and will help you gear up to start the cycle again come September. 

That said, going from intensive study to hardcore relaxation can be a shock to the system, so try to stay productive as you return to your normal school routine, while making sure you take it at a comfortable pace.

Plan your summer

Now that exams are over, it’s time to start putting into practice all the fantasies that were forming in your head during those moments of procrastination. You’ve got six weeks of gloriously school-less summer holiday - use them well! Make sure you’re factoring in plenty of chilled out self-care days dedicated to doing absolutely nothing.

But as dreamy as Operation Relax will no doubt feel for a time, after the intensity of revision and exams, you might well find yourself at a loose end that spa days and yoga just aren’t solving. In which case the summer holidays are a great time to teach yourself a new skill. 

Maybe you’ve always wanted to learn the piano or dabble in Japanese or take up a techy hobby, like coding or video editing. When better to start than during the blissfully empty weeks to come? Tutor House offers private lessons in pretty much everything you can think of, so have a scroll through our list of subjects to see if anything catches your eye; it could lead you to your new favourite pastime.

Get a head start on next year’s syllabus

When you’re fresh from exams, hitting the books again might feel like the furthest thing from your mind. But this is a different type of study from the high stress, pressure cooker-style revision you’ll have just emerged from. 

Making a start on next year’s material is slow and steady; maybe you’re reading ahead here, doing some contextual research there - nothing’s particularly prescriptive at this stage. Studying in a low pressure environment can be highly beneficial and a great way to explore what’s to come before things get too intense.

Ask your teachers for tips

If you’re at a loose end and not quite sure how you’re going to fill those impending summer weeks (a first world problem, indeed, but one we’ve all encountered while at school), why not talk to your teachers about what they would advise. They’re there to help you learn, after all, and they will most likely be delighted you asked. 

Chat to them about resources, tips for summer study, and anything else they might recommend to fill the summer holidays. Whichever subjects you may be taking on next year, a reading list tailored to you by your teacher will stand you in excellent stead for the months to come. Plus, there’s no better way to pass the time than with a good book…

Prepare for Results Day

If you’ve just sat your GCSEs or A-levels, unfortunately, exams aren’t quite done with you. You may have ticked off all your formal assessments but the results are still to come, and the grades inside the envelope that will be handed to you a couple of months from now could play a significant role in shaping your future. So make sure you’re prepared for Results Day. 

Knowing approximately what to expect if you happen to miss out on the grades you were hoping for is guaranteed to make D-Day far less daunting. If you’re gearing up for your GCSE results, it’s a good idea to research the possibility of retakes should you choose to dust yourself off and have another stab. Tutor House has years of experience providing a plan B for students who didn’t quite get the results they wanted, so get in touch for a chat about retakes to ensure you’re prepared for all eventualities.

Research university/sixth form

And while you’re in a research mindset, why not do a bit of googling to get some answers to the questions you were too busy to think about in the run-up to exams? For example, if you’ve just sat your GCSEs and are changing schools for sixth form, use these weeks to look into everything you’ll need to know before you start at your new school. Make any necessary enquiries and send any emails you need to prior to the summer shut-down.

Similarly, if you’ve just finished your first year of A-levels, now is the perfect time to start exploring options for higher study. Research courses, explore campuses, go to a few open days before the students go home for the summer. Getting a head start on this type of organisation will do a lot to reduce the stress around applying and making big life decisions when you come back after the holidays.

"Use it well"

So as you limp away from the exam battlefield, resist the temptation to collapse in a useless pile until September. Instead, use this time between exams and the end of term to rev yourself up for a productive and enjoyable summer.

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Ella Burgess

Ella is a content writer at Tutor House and explores a range of education centred topics, having previously spent time teaching English while living abroad. A foreign language enthusiast and lover of text art, she is devoted to words in all their forms. She'll happily immerse herself in anything wordy from conceptual art to vintage murder mysteries.

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