How To Cope With Exam Result Stress

Awaiting exam results can be an emotionally charged period for students with the buzz and excitement of finally being free from the shackles of studying, often being replaced with stress and anxiety over the impending results.  However, it is crucial to remember that exam results do not define your worth or potential. In this blog post, we’ll explore practical tips to help you cope with exam result stress and provide advice for handling unexpected outcomes.

Every August thousands of students anxiously await results for exams which will shape the next chapter of their lives.  Fifteen-year-olds await their GCSE (or high school diploma equivalent). Eighteen-year-olds await their A’Level (in the US, the US Advanced Placement results.) And university students await their interim or final degree certification.  And, at all of these stages there is excitement of course but worry too. 

Acknowledge Your Feelings

Feeling excitement, worry, anxiety and stress are all perfectly normal feelings and to be expected when so much emphasis is on results.  Acknowledge these emotions but remember not to be too hard on yourself. Remind yourself that it’s okay to feel this way and reassure yourself that you’ve done your best.

Avoid Dwelling on the Outcome

Whilst it is natural to second guess yourself after an exam try to avoid overthinking or dwelling on the outcome.  It can of course be challenging to switch off.

Switching off after a period of intense studying and stress can be difficult.  We recommend engaging in activities such as your hobbies, exercising or spending time with friends and family to keep your mind occupied with things other than results!

Practice Mindfulness and Relaxation Techniques

Mindfulness and relaxation techniques such as havening can help you stay present and calm during this stressful period. Breathing exercises, meditation, and yoga are also effective practices to reduce anxiety and increase focus.

Seek Support

Share your feelings with friends or family members who can offer understanding and encouragement. Remember, you’re not alone in this experience, and talking about your emotions can be therapeutic. Organizations such as Childline and Gibsams are also available if you wish to talk to someone anonymously.

Focus on the Present

Whilst it’s easier said than done (and I must admit that I am notoriously bad at this!), worrying about the future won’t change the outcome. Focus on the present moment and the things you can control. Take small steps towards your goals and celebrate your achievements along the way.

Dealing with Unexpected Results

So what happens if you’ve worked hard but your results are not as good as you were anticipating?  Do not panic!  Firstly and most importantly, as we said previously, your exam results do not define you and there are options available to you.  There is only one thing in life which is permanent – everything else you can work through.

Whilst a bad result may leave you feeling like you are in free fall, take a deep breath, speak to your teachers, friends and family and then calmly find a solution.  You can:

Request a Remark (Regrade)

If you strongly believe your exam was marked unfairly or that an error occurred during the grading process, consider applying for a remark (regrade).  Your teachers or lecturers will be able to assist you with this and can advise on deadlines and procedures for this process.  You will not be the first or the last student who goes through this and they are there to help you.

Retake the Exam

If your heart is set on a particular course or opportunity, find out if it’s possible to retake the exam. 

I must admit that this is something which I had to do in my first year at university.  Having always done well at exams with minimum effort I thought things would be the same at uni.  Yes, whilst studying law!  Boy, how wrong was I?!??!

I had all the goodwill in the world and brought home all my law books with the intention of studying over Christmas.  But, Christmas got in the way.  Then my birthday got in the way and before I knew it I had less than a week to study for three important law modules. Suffice to say that my grades reflected the lack of effort I had put in!  Over twenty years later if I close my eyes I can still see myself on the payphone (yes I am THAT old!) calling home and telling my gran that I was coming home.  I even packed all of my stuff ready to give up law.

Thankfully I have great (and very patient) friends who calmed me down and talked some sense into me.  I then put together a study plan and aced the exams the second time around.

Seek Guidance from a Mentor or Counselor

Speak to a mentor or counsellor about your options. They can provide valuable advice and help you navigate through the choices available to you.

Explore Other Pathways

If your results weren’t as expected, remember that there are alternative pathways to achieve your goals. Research other courses, colleges, or universities that offer opportunities in your field of interest through clearing.

It’s all about PERSPECTIVE

Waiting for exam results can be nerve-wracking, but keeping things in perspective is essential. Your results are not a reflection of your worth or potential.

Embrace the journey of learning, growth, and self-discovery. If your results aren’t what you hoped for, remember that there are numerous paths to success. Stay determined, seek support, and believe in your abilities.

Over the next few weeks keep the following mantras in mind to stay focused and positive throughout this challenging time.

You’ve got this! Wishing you the very best of luck with your exam results.

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