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Top Tips For Exam Results Day

This year’s exam results day is likely to be more stressful for our teenagers than others, and perhaps particularly so in light of the debate about linking estimated grades to the performance of a school in previous years.

For those awaiting A-level results for university, it is worth reassuring them that there will fewer foreign students coming this year, which will mean a greater number of places for UK students.

The government has now said that students in England (and Northern Ireland has agreed the same) are being promised their final results will be no lower than their mock exams. It is also possible for pupils to sit their exams this Autumn if they think they could boost their grades. It is not ideal, but they will be able to then choose which results to keep.

Here are some tips to support your child on exam results day:

  • Before results day arrives have a chat with them about how they might feel/cope if the results are not what they are expecting. Let them know that whatever happens you love them, and if things don’t go according to plan you will be there to help.
  • Let them open their own results!
  • Opening results early is particularly important for A-Level results day because the clearing places fill up fast. It is worth understanding how the clearing process works before D-Day – you can find all the information on the UCAS website.
  • If the results are not what they wanted they need you to stay calm. Hide your disappointment whilst you help them manage the array of emotions they will be feeling by showing empathy.  “It’s horrible when things don’t go according to plan, I’m sorry” – do not say any more until they are through the immediate upset.
  • Separate the action from the person and be optimistic – “failing exams does not make you a failure.  It is upsetting and annoying but you are ok, we love you and we will find a way forward”.
  • Do not blame the school, teacher or exams board.  When we resort to this type of rescuing we make it harder for them to recover because we cast them into the role of victim, and reduce their sense of power.  There will be time enough for investigations at a later date.
  • Do not ask how others have done as this may fuel compare and despair.
  • Be aware that getting a place through clearing, even at a top class university, may still feel like failure to them, and maybe anxiety inducing. Help them be proactive in familiarising themselves with their new university. Be alert to signs of distress and give them opportunity and permission to feel their feelings, “I guess you might feel that going to X rather than X feels like failing”.
  • If clearing doesn’t provide a solution, would a foundation year get them onto the course they want? Perhaps a gap year would give them the space to re-evaluate – this is a more difficult choice this year for obvious reasons but there are options. Listen to our podcast with The Leap for inspiration.  Consider the reasons for failing carefully before committing to retake exams.
  • Do not big up a lower grade – when you say, “he got a high B” they hear, “he failed to get an A” – let the result be what it is.  This will help them get over any disappointment faster.

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