While most other school children are out playing and enjoying their summer holidays, there are some who’s summer is a little less bright this year. I’m talking about the ones who have the cloud of ‘exam results’ hovering over their head, following them wherever they go and reminding them that there is something to worry about. And that feeling, along with anxiety and stress, is perfectly normal. Exam results time is a high-tension time, and lots of my students report feeling panic, guilt and fear regularly.
And nothing I can say will change that.
But I do have some advice to help soothe some of the worst anxiety and help you cope with the run up to results day – and the actual results themselves.
Before The Day
Don’t Bottle Up Your Feelings: If you’re feeling nervous or anxious, don’t just sit and stew. Talk to someone about it. Whether that’s your family, your friends or someone completely removed from the whole thing. All of these feelings are perfectly normal, but allowing yourself to brood on them will only make them worse. This is really the bit that causes most of the stress, and it can lead to bigger problems if you let it build up. ChildLine has some great advice about dealing with the stress of exams, and you can contact one of their counsellors to talk about your feelings at any time – no problem is too small for them.
Make A Plan: For many people, the simple act of making a plan can have huge benefits. Create a basic plan for what you need to do on that day (get up, get dressed, have breakfast, what time you need to go to collect your results etc). Once you’ve got that structure down, start thinking about what you might need to do if you don’t get the grades you need. This might seem pessimistic, but it really does help minimise the stress and panic if this should happen. For example, you could have your first choice university’s number handy to see if they will still offer you a place without the grades. Whatever you do, make sure you plan to do something nice with friends or family later in the day, so you have something to look forward to no matter what.
Get Plenty Of Rest: Sleep might be the last thing on your mind, but a good night’s rest will put you in a better frame of mind for results day. If you think you will struggle (and I can’t blame you), there are things you can do. Like getting up early the morning before, do some exercise in the afternoon, avoid caffeine or having a warm bath before bed.
On Results Day
Don’t Go Alone: When results day comes along, the worst thing you can do is go alone. A lot of people will go in groups, steadying each other’s nerves and acting as a multi-layer support. If you can’t go along with friends, take a family member along with you for moral support – trust me, you won’t be the only one! They can help make sure you get to the right place safely (a bundle of nerves is no good behind the wheel of a car), help you figure out what to do next and, if nothing else, they might buy you a nice lunch afterwards.
If You Don’t Get The Results You Wanted: Don’t panic. I repeat, do NOT panic. Even if you didn’t get the grades you wanted, you have plenty of options available. So, take a deep breath and start talking. Talk to your teachers, careers advisors and whoever else might be useful to help you figure out what to do next. Whether that’s resitting some exams, changing your options for uni or even going for an apprenticeship – we promise your world won’t end, even if your results aren’t what you expected.
If You Do Get The Results You Wanted: Hurray! Huge congratulations are in order, and you should definitely celebrate your achievement. Just make sure you are sensitive to those around you who may not have such happy news. Yes, you should definitely scream, jump up and down, hug and do whatever else you want to celebrate – just make sure there’s not anyone who is upset by their results nearby.
And above all, remember to celebrate. Even if you didn’t quite get what you expected, that doesn’t mean the future isn’t full of opportunities just waiting for you to grab them with both hands. There are plenty of successful people who didn’t go to university and plenty with a degree who don’t do much with their lives. At the end of the day, it’s what you choose to do with your results, and your life, that really makes the difference. So stay positive and know that you can do anything you put your mind too, even if exams aren’t your forte.
Good luck everyone!