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Exam Results: how to keep a sense of perspective

Hannah Ryan, Head of Support for Learning at Canford, writes on the importance of keeping exam results in perspective.

As this year’s GCSE and A Level results loom for our Fifth and Sixth Form pupils, a mixture of emotions will inevitably arise, especially considering the roller coaster of a year they’ve travelled.

A sense of growing tension is natural, so it’s worth keeping busy the day before as this helps distract us from unhelpful thinking patterns such as catastrophizing (‘It will be a complete disaster if I don’t get the grades’) and fortune-telling (‘Everyone will think I’m a complete failure if I don’t get As’).

On the big day, hopefully tension will be replaced by elation, and relief will take over as those well-earned grades have been achieved. However, a feeling of anti-climax is more common than you might think.  Despite achieving the required grades, one pupil found it difficult not to dwell on the one result that was not what had been hoped for or expected. Another pupil was some way off his predicted grades and had to reconsider his options. In both these cases, a sense of perspective was required and both pupils were lucky to have friends and family, and support from school staff, who helped them to see that one set of results was not going to stop them achieving their goals, even if these had to be redefined – and they didn’t.  So it’s worth forearming yourself against unhelpful thinking (and unhelpful people) and having a clear, reasoned plan of action in place before the day arrives, just in case of disappointment.

On a final note, before diving into your social media be sensitive to your own state of mind and that of your friends, (remember, others may also be nursing their own private disappointments). Take a moment to stop, pause and acknowledge your wider strengths and achievements – whatever the outcome. These results do not define you, and while there may be a need to get creative and consider other routes, they should not deter you from your personal dreams and goals.

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