Worried about your school grades?

Last reviewed on 30 July 2021

If you were due to take GCSE, AS Level, A Level, vocational, technical or other general exams this summer and then found out you’d be assessed in a different way, it’s understandable that you might be feeling anxious or stressed about your results and uncertain about what the future holds.

A recent poll by The Student Room (7 June - 4 July 2021) revealed that almost 90% of students are worried that receiving teacher-assessed grades is going to negatively impact their future. According to the poll, the next biggest concern for students is that grades will be seen as ‘lesser’ because there were no exams. In addition, three quarters of Year 13s said they still need more help and information from universities to get ready for starting in September.

I’m extremely worried about one grade that will impact my whole university place.” (Source: The Student Room)

“[I feel as if] I’ve regressed this year and am no longer as confident as I once was.” (Source: The Student Room)

“I’m scared everyone will get amazing grades and I will just be looked at as average.” (Source: The Student Room)

In this article, the Good Thinking team has put together some tips to help you cope with the stress of results day during a pandemic and determine how you’ll come out the other side. More than anything, you should be really proud of what you’ve accomplished at a really difficult time. We also recommend some fantastic NHS-approved wellbeing apps that you can download for free via the Good Thinking service.

If you need specific information about the grading process, please talk to your school and check some of the websites listed at the end of this article.

Focus on what you can control

So many things are up in the air at the moment and that can be difficult to deal with. A helpful way of coping with uncertainty and stress is to focus on what’s in your control. You can’t control the grading process but you can control how you react to it.

Draw up a list of things that will make a difference to how you feel over the next few weeks. The important thing is to not measure the size of what you do; it’s completing the activity that will give you some feeling of achievement.

Your list might include:

  • Have a positive daily routine with time for exercise, hobbies and seeing friends.
  • Create a playlist of music and podcasts that lift you up.
  • Remember what matters to you outside of your educational achievements. What do you enjoy doing? What excites or inspires you? What short-term goals (not related to your studies) could you set yourself?
  • Do something nice for someone else (e.g. cook a meal for your family or support a friend who is having a tough time).
  • Find out what will happen on results day (e.g. can you collect them in person?) and what action you can take if you’re disappointed with your grades (e.g. submitting an appeal).
  • Make sure your details on the UCAS website are correct and sign up to The Student Room’s clearing alerts.
  • Remember that life is always uncertain and that worrying won’t change the outcome of your current situation. You might like to try this technique to keep your worries in check: 1) Recognise the worry, 2) Pause, 3) Let go of the worry, 4) Repeat.
  • Talk to your family and friends about how you’re feeling and discuss how they can support you now and after you get your results.
  • Use breathing, mindfulness or meditation techniques to stop the spiral of ‘What if...?’ questions.
  • Get better sleep – an hour before bed, start to unwind and detach from the day (that includes leaving any tech devices out of the bedroom).
  • Celebrate your achievements on results day but be mindful of other people’s feelings (e.g. if you decide to share your grades on social media).
  • Embrace new opportunities if you don’t get the results you hoped for, whether that’s finding a new apprenticeship or job, going to a different university or taking a gap year.

Make the most of wellbeing apps

Good Thinking offers a range of NHS-approved wellbeing apps to help young people look after their mental health. You might find the following apps helpful ahead of results day and in the weeks that follow. All the apps below are free to young Londoners who use the Good Thinking service.

Clear Fear

Developed by the charity stem4 with input from young people, Clear Fear uses Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) techniques to help young people reduce feelings of anxiety. The app also provides support if you have a panic episode and breathing exercises to help you feel calmer as results day approaches. Check out our webinar with Dr Nihara Krause of stem4.

Combined Minds

Do you want to support a friend or sibling who is worried or stressed about their grades? With this app (also developed by the charity stem4), you can help them to focus on the positives and boost their resilience. Check out our webinar with Dr Nihara Krause of stem4.

Feeling Good Teens and Feeling Good

Both these apps combine positive psychology and Olympic sports coaching techniques to help young people develop self-esteem, resilience and goal-focused motivation. Check out our podcast and webinar with the apps’ co-founder Dr Alastair Dobbin.

Move Mood

Using Behavioural Activation Therapy techniques, Move Mood helps young people to manage the behaviours associated with low mood or depression. Check out our webinar with Dr Nihara Krause of stem4, which developed the app.

Good Thinking resources

Benefits of healthy sleep patterns (podcast)

Feeling angry or frustrated? Tips on managing your emotions and behaviour (article)

Five ways to good mental wellbeing (article)

How to deal with stress (article)

How to face uncertain times and focus on the positives (article)

What do you enjoy doing? How to focus on rewarding activities that will get you through the next six months (article)

Why a micropause can help your mental health today (podcast)

Results day: How to deal with anxiety, stress and imposter syndrome by Mhairi Underwood of The Student Room

Podcast with Mhairi Underwood of The Student Room

Useful websites

Aqa

Eduqas

National Careers Service

Ofqual (Student guide to awarding – Summer 2021)

Pearson

Student Space (text STUDENT to 85258)

The Student Room

UCAS

YoungMinds

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