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undiagnosed adhd/asd and a-levels

Being undiagnosed is ruining me. I’ve been on the waiting list for over a year now yet nothing’s happening. My A-Level exams have gone terribly as I’ve really struggled to motivate myself. I’ve tried everything I could think of to stay organised but it just does not work. It’s a constant cycle at this point. At the start, I always feel motivated, telling myself that I’ll get a good grade and show everyone that I am competent enough. But then, it ALWAYS ends up in the same say - I lose focus, procrastinate, and end up getting a low grade. I feel like I’m missing out and wasting my potential.

For GCSEs, I did pretty good (888877776) but I think that was because of the advanced information and lower grade boundaries in 2022. The COVID years went absolutely terrible, I could barely do anything. Before that, I wasn’t living in the UK, so there was a language barrier when I first came here, but that wasn’t an issue anymore in Year 11. Throughout Year 11, I kept getting 4s and 5s in most subjects (mainly because I couldn’t get myself to study). I got my final grades by revising it all the weeks before my actual GCSEs. Hell, I wouldn’t even call it “revising”, I was learning if anything. Except for maths, I remember I started revising it since February as I had then decided that I needed to do A-Level Maths. With the exception of maths, I didn’t even do past papers for any subjects, just read and skimmed through notes.

So yeah, I have never been an organised person, yet I managed to get through GCSEs, but A-Levels are obviously very different. Doing it all at the last minute just won’t work. After realising that, I’ve spent LOTS of time researching for strategies to get myself motivated. I’ll list down some of the things I’ve tried doing:

- I made several study timetables/plans and put lots of effort in them to ensure they were as effective as possible. However in the end I never ended up following any of them.
- Set myself SMART goals, wrote them down, and even stuck them above my desk (which was kinda cringe, but I had to try everything).
- Tried the Pomodoro Technique, but it just doesn’t work for me. I feel like it disrupts my “flow” of learning and after taking the break I just can’t get my motivation back.
- I made sure that my study place was silent and tidy, minimising any possible distractions. I’m very sensitive to noise so I wore earplugs. I tried to not do anything other than studying in this place because I didn’t want to associate it with ‘leisurely’ activities.
- When studying at home didn’t help, I tried studying at school or at the library. But the results were the same. I just couldn’t get my brain to focus after the first 30ish minutes.
- I tried mediation and exercise in my study breaks.
- Found out that the ideal time for revision for me was in the morning (between 8am-12am) and the evening (between 5pm-7pm) so I tried to stick to those times. Studying at any other times felt impossible.
- Limited screen time and set a time limit for social media on my phone.
- I’ve had motivational videos in the background when revising.

Yet, despite all this, I’ve still failed. I’ve forced myself to study but it does not work. I can’t do it. I’ve tried countless of stuff. My mental health is quite bad right now and I’ve had a pretty big fight with my mum mid A-Level exams so that just made it infinitely worse. I’ll be surprised if I get a C in anything. I reached out to adults in my school but all they said was just useless. I’ve talked to my teacher about not being able to focus in class and what she said was “…but there are no distractions in class?” and when I replied that I still got distracted nevertheless, she asked me “what can we do to make it less distracting?” and... I don’t know the answer to that question myself, so what am I supposed to say?

For now, I’m planning to take a gap year, retake my A-Levels and apply to University for 2025 entry. But I’m scared the same thing will happen. I’ve already accepted that I WILL get demotivated along the way but I just do not want to end up with bad grades again. I’d like to go to a good University and if I don’t, I’ll never be able to forgive myself for wasting my potential and disappointing my parents. I feel very ashamed of myself for failing.

God this ended up being way longer than I would’ve liked. Thank you if you actually read though everything. But does anyone who has ADHD or is experiencing something similar have any advice for how to solve this? I can't find any solutions.
I literally have nothing to add other than I'm in the exact same situation. Mental health is also suffering because I keep leaving it and procrastinating, or can't muster the energy to revise (literally what I'm doing rn because I have an exam at 9 lol).

I also know the struggle of having to list exactly what you've done and constantly justifying yourself otherwise people will think you're just 'lazy'.

The only thing I can say is you don't know the results just yet, you might have done better than you thought in one or two exams. On the flip, if you're resitting make sure you get all of your study stuff you had this year and review it regularly. Doesn't have to be for hours which is really hard to maintain with ADHD, but instead do 30 minutes twice a week for the whole year. Cover a portion of a booklet or 15 flashcards so you know them, then at the end of every term review what you've done in the topic up to that point. Even if you can't stick to it in the day, just look over major themes etc and the knowledge will follow. This will reduce the strain come exams significantly.

One of the biggest problems I find is getting stuck in the making resources cycle, looking at them, then sturggling to revise from them and making some more. Tryyyy not do to this, instead, use this year as the learning block and use resources you found useful this year to consistently study next year.

I'm sorry I can't give you any more advice, just know you're not the only one, and there's plenty that are in the same boat!! I've asked for adhd help on TSR and I'd recommend to have a look in comments because some feedback is really helpful. Some is.. not, but people try either way.

But good luck!

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