Mind Your Head - Results Day 2017
On 17th of August 2017, hundreds of thousands of students across the UK will be opening their A-Level exam results. Some of you might be afraid; some of you might be perfectly relaxed. But if you are afraid, know that you’re not alone and that a bit of fear is a perfectly normal response to the thought of receiving your exam results. But it’s also important to look after your wellbeing, and make sure that your fear doesn’t prevent you from enjoying your summer.
One common fear is that you really messed up on one or more of your exams, and that that will prevent you from getting the grades you want or need. It’s a common worry because we’re always going to think of a better way to answer a question once we’re out of the exam, but it’s not something Henry worried about when he applied to study English: “The main thing that helped me was knowing that whatever had happened had happened. Whether I knew my results or not, they were the same either way. The time for nerves is before your exam when you still have the capaci-ty to influence your results.”
But, you might argue, sometimes it’s not easy to say ‘que sera, sera’ to exam results, because what will be will not be very good if you don’t get the results you need. You may feel as though your entire future (or at least your near future) hinges on this one moment, and if that’s the case then of course you can’t just forget about it. Now a final-year Mechanical Engineering student at the University of Bristol, Holly remembers how worried she was before results day: ‘I did feel very stressed; I had trouble sleeping and had dreams about what the outcome would be. It's useless to fret but not fretting is easier said than done. I missed my first choice by one grade and was upset, but that was needless because I'm glad everything turned out as it did. So I would say hope for the best and maybe don't expect the worst but try to be positive about the different outcomes you may have’.
Even if you don’t get into your second-choice University, it’s important to remember that there are other options available to you: there’s always clearing; the opportunity to retake either specific exams or the academic year; to take a gap year and reassess your plans; to do an apprenticeship, BTEC or diploma or; to go straight into the world of work. For Ella, an Envi-ronmental Conservation student at UWTSD, taking a gap year was exactly what she needed after college: “I only checked my results a few months later when I'd worked out what I wanted to do. I took a year out, saved up some money, went to Madagascar to do a BTEC in Tropical Habitat Con-servation and then started Uni”. When I told her that turning away from her results must have taken a lot of self-restraint, she said, “mate I was terrified. Thought I'd failed completely, but it wasn’t too bad”.
Your A-Level results do not determine your future, nor do they act as a summary of your capabili-ties or personality. Your ability to live a fulfilling life involves so much more than the letters you re-ceive next to your subject titles. A-Levels are, for most of us, some of the first serious projects we embark on in life, meaning they have their own anxieties attached to them by virtue of being ‘firsts’. Being able to manage your expectations and confront your anxieties in a healthy way across this hurdle will inevitably help you out with all future hurdles to come. Lakshmi, a Biochemis-try graduate from the University of Edinburgh, says, “Sorting out how you deal with stress is very important for University. In University you will get bad grades and be sad at times and it's perfectly okay. It doesn't change anything about your essence, being, or intelligence if your A-Level results are bad. Ultimately, you just need to see the results to be able to make a plan. I think the idea that your life doesn't swing on this axis is the most important thing.’
Maybe you feel like you know this to be true on some level, but your worries remain persistent and overwhelming anyway. If this is the case, then you should first reach out to your friends and family for advice, or perhaps just for a listening ear. However, if this doesn’t sound like such a good idea then you can always speak to a teacher you like or to those who work for organisations like Student Minds, Mind and Nightline who are all dedicated to helping students going through distress.
Take care of yourself and your wellbeing, and know that it’s alright to ask for help. Anxiety surrounding exam results can sometimes feel relentless, but it’s not something you have to face alone.
- By Papatya O'Reilly
Fri 11 Aug 2017