Up and down the country, students are growing anxious. For some, dreams are about to become one step closer. For others, a change of plan may be in store. August can only mean one thing for UK students: exam results. We’re here to help you get through the day you’ve been dreading and look forward to the adventures ahead.
In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, A-level results are due out on 17 August 2017 and GCSE results are out on 24 August 2017.
The good news is you shouldn’t be kept hanging. Exam boards release results as early as 6am, and your school will make them available the same morning. These days you can get your results by text, email or in the post, although we recommend picking them up from school in case you need to speak to any teachers about how you’ve done. Of course, it’s up to you whether you nip into a toilet cubical or choose to open your envelope with friends.
Try to stay calm. It may feel like the world has ended but we promise your options are still wide open. If you’ve done well enough to follow your plans, don’t dwell on disappointing results. Focus on what’s to come and remember a few slipped grades won’t matter nearly so much in the future.
If your place at sixth form, vocational college or university is dependent on higher grades, talk to the institution and find out if there’s any flexibility. Sometimes students with near-misses are accepted or offered an alternative course. You also have the option of resits or applying to a university through UCAS Clearing.
If you’ve just missed out on the grades you need or feel strongly that your grades do not fairly reflect your ability, then a re-mark is something to consider. Your school will have to make the request for you, so speak to them as soon as you’ve decided this is the route you want to take. Remember, a re-mark could mean you end up with the same or a lower grade. If your university place depends on the outcome of your re-mark, make sure you let the admissions officer or UCAS know your papers are being looked at again.
If you have your heart set on one particular course but your grades aren’t good enough, you could always resit your exams. Just make sure you’re confident you can improve your grades second time around. For GCSE English, English Language or Maths, resits can be done in November, and you’ll have to resit all written exams. For other GCSE subjects, you’ll have to wait until next summer, and also resit all written exams. AS/A-level re-sits take place the following summer.
UCAS Clearing enables universities to fill any spaces they have left, and applicants without offers to secure a place at university. Every year, thousands of students – typically around 10% – find a place this way. Once you have your results, you can apply to any course that has vacancies (it doesn’t need to be the same subject as your original UCAS application). You can find vacancies on university websites, the UCAS website and The Daily Telegraph (in print, on the website and via their Clearing app) from A-level results day onwards.
Before you lock yourself in a dark room and succumb to feelings of worthlessness, take a breath. It’s only a big deal if you let if become one.
Don’t suffer alone. Talk to your closest friends and ask for support from your family. These people love you irrespective of what that slip of paper says. Your results don’t define you; they don’t make you any less of a person. Let your loved ones remind you just how awesome you are.
Keep things in perspective. Try to think about what impact your results will have on your life in two, five or ten years time. The chances are you can still achieve your ambitions in the long term, even if you have to adjust your path right now.
Take inspiration. Think about someone you admire who didn’t achieve success the conventional way, somebody who wasn’t an academic high achiever. There are plenty of examples! And even those who ace their exams on results day aren’t guaranteed success in the years to come.
Stay focused. You might not be able to do this on results day, or the week after, or even the week after that. But what you must do, sooner rather than later, is use what you’ve learned and the upset you’ve endured to drive yourself forward. With the right mindset you can bounce back stronger.
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