Matricula is the Goddess of Exam Results, a youthful deity who personifies hard work and integrity. She watches over those people who face opening “that” envelope, the contents of which decides one’s future. The envelope that contains the culmination of months or even years of blood, sweat and tears. She always has a sympathetic ear for the prayers of students who have done their best, but is somewhat deaf to those who know, in their heart of hearts, that they could have tried harder. She can be a wrathful deity and has been known to vigorously smite ignorant people who say things like, “Of course, the exams are getting easier these days.”
Matricula is primarily worshipped by people in their late teens who are completing their further education. Other followers include the educators and parents who are supporting these young people through their coming of age. The youth element of the faith are known as the “Candidates”. The priesthood of Matricula is comprised of highly qualified adults and has several levels of seniority. At the entry level are the dutiful Invigilators who run the temples and maintain a revered hush within. Invigilators may be the lowest rung of the clergy, but they still have significant powers, such as the ability to wipe your calculator memory. Invigilators are supported and presided over by the Markers, Moderators and Examiners who maintain the sect’s rigorous standards. There is also a mystic group of prophetic priestesses, known as the Syllabi Sisterhood, who cryptically predict what may be on the test next year.
Temples of Matricula are known as “Centres”. They do not have names, instead they are identified by a five-digit Centre Number. Each Centre is approached by a narrow bridge which leads to the main entrance. On this bridge stands an elderly, bearded man in a long grey hooded robe. As each Candidate goes to pass over the bridge to the temple he bangs his staff upon the ground and declares, “If you have not studied, YOU SHALL NOT PASS!”
If you have done your revision, and are allowed inside, you will see rows upon rows of rigidly arranged desks and chairs. There will be exactly 1.25m from the centre of each chair to the centre of the next. They face the front of the room where you will see a large clock and an altar, behind which you must leave your coat, bag and mobile phone (turned off) for the duration of the service. The service will typically last between two and three hours. Don’t worry the presiding Invigilator Priest will give you ten minutes warning when the end of the service is approaching. Interestingly, services of the Church of Matricula are the only known religious ceremony in the world where you have to be accompanied if you need to go to the toilet. (It is considered the height of bad manners to ask your Invigilator for extra paper at this time.) Candidates will often bring a small offering of cough sweets or mints to the temple. These must be presented unwrapped and in a clear plastic bag.
The most famous annual ritual of Matricula is the late summer festival of “Results Week”. It begins at 8am on the second Thursday in August, when the eighteen year old Advanced Level worshippers will gather at their Centre, often with their parents, for the rite of “The Opening of the Envelopes”. It is traditional for the young worshippers to arrive for the ceremony bathed in nervous sweat, and to leave at the end bathed in tears. Either joyous or of bitter disappointment. Although, officially, students cannot open their envelope until 8am, there always seems to be at least one lucky worshipper who gets to jump the gun, just so that they can be filmed opening their envelope for the TV Breakfast News. The next six days are known as “The Clearing”. A time of either celebration or frantic worship of Matricula’s divine father Ucas, God of University Places.
Some erroneously believe that a U is the lowest grade you can possibly get in an exam. In fact, the lowest possible mark is when the exam moderation committee share your answer on their WhatsApp group for a laugh. The sacred writings of Marticula, first transcribed by the prophet Marcus Schemius, are always produced by hand in blue or black ink (attach extra pages if needed). Sadly, unlike other ancient documents, there is no quirky marginalia to be found hiding in the borders of these sacred texts. The margin is strictly for the examiner’s use only.
This strange year we are living through has caused serious disruption to the routines of Matriculans. For a short while it looked like the evil algorithm might spell disaster for the Candidates of the Covid year. Somehow OFQUAL seemed to have been hijacked by the Foundation for United Kingdom Qualifications (or FUKQ). Thankfully Matricula moved in her mysterious ways and appeared to the Secretary of State for Education in a dream to shout at him and call him an elitist whomperpizzle until he frantically u-turned (i.e. turned the Us into Es). The only good thing to come out of this situation was that, for a moment, we had a government that believed that all teachers gave 100%.
This deity is dedicated to all the UK students affected by this year’s exams upheaval. I truly hope everything works out for you to be able to follow the dreams you have been working towards. Special mention to my Godchild “B”, we are very proud of you.
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