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A staggering 86% of young people experience high levels of stress in the countdown to A-level results, according to a new survey from Arden University

The poll suggests exam pressure is mounting and students feel greater anxiety than previous generations.

The survey also reveals 61% of people feel too much pressure is put on young people to succeed at A-level even though more than half (53%) of workers say they never or rarely use the knowledge and skills they learned for the exams. A-levels form the foundation for the next chapter in an individual’s career, however, they are eventually superseded by motivation, practical work-based skills, experience as well as higher education.

There is also evidence that people see the benefits of taking an academic break before going to university with more than a third (37%) of respondents saying they would delay studying for a degree in order to gain work experience, consider their career options and boost their sense of well-being.

Arden University said A-levels had a role to play but employers were more interested in “talent than test results.”

The survey provides a snapshot of the anxieties facing students in the countdown to A-level results day on August 15.

A total of 86% young people aged 17 to 25 said they were stressed in the run-up to A-level results, of which 50% reported “very high” stress. When people aged over 30 were asked the same question, 72% said they had been stressed but only 28% reported “very high” stress before publication of A-level results.

Women feel more under pressure than men about A-levels with 52% of females and 26% of men reporting “very high” stress levels.

Victoria Stakelum, Deputy CEO of Arden University, said the survey highlighted high levels of anxiety about A-levels among young people but she urged all students, including mature learners, to take a wider view to achieve their aspirations.

Ms Stakelum said: “Society places so much emphasis on A-level success. We only have to turn on a TV or open a newspaper at this time each year to see that. But in the grand scheme of things, is it worth the stress and pressure we are heaping on young people? Is success in work and in life determined by a set of test results received on one day?

“In an ever-evolving educational system, exam results are not the be all and end all that the noise around results day would lead us to believe.  A-levels absolutely do serve a purpose in terms of providing a gateway into higher education. However, it’s talent not test results that determines individual success. This is what employers tell us and it’s an opinion which we share.

“In Arden’s experience, prior educational attainment is not always the best predictor of future potential and success, but motivation and commitment are. It’s why we assess candidates based on their work experience and commitment in addition to traditional qualifications like A-levels.”

To help A-level students assess their options, Arden has created a toolkit on the university’s website – www.arden.ac.uk – to help people work out where their current skill-set and level of education could take them.

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