By her own admission, Tiffany Veerasawmy’s nails are in bad shape.
The GCSE student from Chatham, Kent, has chewed them to the quick over the past few days as she struggled to cope with the anxiety ahead of Thursday’s results.
“I’ve felt really, really scared about this week,” said Tiffany, who feared she would be downgraded like her sister Kayla was in her A-levels.
“I drift off to sleep, then I just wake up again, just sit there in the dark, trying to get to sleep and I can’t because this worry just keeps going on.”
But at 4pm on Monday, her anxiety was replaced by jubilation.
“We did a bit of a scream,” she said, in reaction to the government’s U-turn on how exam grades in England will be calculated.
“It just feels so much better to know that I’m going to get the grades that I’ve earned myself than been given by the government.”
For her sister, Kayla, the overwhelming emotion is relief.
The A-level student is hoping to study midwifery at Canterbury Christ Church University but feared she had lost her place after one of her subjects was downgraded last week.
“It was a massive relief because I was worried the appeal maybe wouldn’t work,” she said.
“But now I know I don’t have to worry about that now.”
The C grade Kayla was given for psychology will now be upgraded to the B she was predicted by her teachers.
“I’d worked really hard to get that B,” she said. “And then to not get it, even though I couldn’t do the exam, was really, really horrible.”
But Kayla’s university place is still not guaranteed. After initially failing to meet her offer, she fears her place may have been given to someone else.
She said: “It’s all a bit confusing and it’s still a bit slow up at the uni. So I’ve still not heard back from them whether I’ve definitely got that place or not.”
Despite its U-turn, the government may have done long-term damage when it comes to how it is viewed by the next generation of voters.
“I think that the system was definitely classist,” Tiffany said.
“Because it’s clear as day that they seem to judge us on where we’re from.”
The two sisters attended the same grammar school, where several of Kayla’s friends saw their A-levels downgraded.
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She and her sister feel the algorithm prioritised postcodes over performance, and they say it is not something they will forget.
“Where you live doesn’t say anything about your intelligence,” Tiffany said.
“It was ridiculous that they put the algorithm that way. I just don’t think we’ve been treated right at all.”