- Exam schedules in the UK
- Prevention is better than cure
- Individualised support before an exam
- How to tell if you are experiencing anxiety
- How to cope with waiting for exam results
- How to deal with results day
Exams are an important part of the UK education system, so waiting for results comes with the territory. It can be a stressful time, fraught with uncertainty and anxiety. So, we’re here with some top tips on how to stay calm waiting for test results to keep you as happy and relaxed as possible. 👍
Exam schedules in the UK
Perhaps you feel the UK education curriculum and its emphasis on examination works well to incentivise students, identifying strengths as well as areas for improvement. Or maybe you are of the opinion that exams are part of an outdated system that reduces learning to a simple test of memorisation and regurgitation.
Either way, exams will feature heavily in your educational journey. From Standard Attainment Tests (SATs) to the 11 Plus and 13 Plus entrance exams, through to GCSEs and A-levels – or the 5-14 Assessments, Standard Grades and Highers if you are in Scotland – students are examined on a regular basis from about the age of 7. ✍️
So, although you will probably become fairly accustomed to the exam merry-go-round early on in life, some exams are harder and more important than others. This makes knowing how to cope with the preparation, execution and aftermath of exams an important part of being a student in the UK.
Prevention is better than cure
The first defence against experiencing bouts of anxiety while waiting for your results is to give yourself the best chance of success before taking the exam. That way you can rest assured that you have done your very best, which is all you can ask of yourself.
There are various ways in which to prepare for exams. While you are still young, it can be as simple as working through homework and trying out some practice papers with your parents.
Once you start preparing for Standard Grades or GCSEs and above, you can prepare by carefully selecting which subjects to study. All of this will help to ensure that you will ultimately spend less time worried about GCSE results or any of your exam grades. 🧠
Once studying is underway and you are approaching revision periods, you can help yourself by creating a timetable, ensuring your study space is calm and well-equipped, purchasing extra revision guides and working with a tutor for a bit of extra one-to-one support.
No matter what stage you are at, it is always worth maintaining an open and communicative relationship with your subject teachers. That way you can check in with them at any stage should you have concerns about your learning. 🧑🏫
Individualised support before an exam
Everyone is individual, bringing their own set of strengths and weaknesses with them in everything they do. Make sure you’ve considered your specific requirements before you take any exams to ensure you get any individualised support that you may be entitled to or need.
Qualifying for Access Arrangements
Access Arrangements are pre-examination adjustments made for students who need them. A student with ADHD may need to take exams in a separate room and have the opportunity to walk around during a break for example while a student with dyslexia or dyspraxia may be eligible for up to 25% extra time in exams, the use of word processors, a scribe, voice recognition software and a change of font for exam papers. ⏱️
A note for high-achieving students
High-achievers are motivated extrinsically by making good grades and pleasing their teachers and can experience extreme feelings of pressure and anxiety when it comes to exam time. If this sounds like you, we recommend that you keep communication open and remind yourself that you have time to reach your goals and imperfection is okay. 💯
How to tell if you are experiencing anxiety
Students of all ages can struggle with their emotional well-being. It's important to know how to recognise any changes in your own behaviour. So trust your gut when you feel that you might need support with managing your mental health.
Some telltale signs that you may be experiencing increased levels of anxiety can include decreased concentration, inability to multitask, trouble getting on with your peers, difficulty handling feedback, interrupted sleep patterns and low energy levels. 🤯
How to cope with waiting for exam results
Filling the space between finishing exams and waiting for results can feel like a never-ending task. You will have spent weeks, if not months or years, revising, preparing for and taking exams. Sometimes the euphoric relief that comes with walking out at the end of your final exam comes with a crippling realisation that there is nothing left to do… but wait. 😰
This period can bring up feelings of insecurity, impending doom, concern, anxiety and a lack of control over what the future may hold. But, there are plenty of strategies you can employ to take care of yourself at this crucial time.
Firstly, it is important to gauge your own emotional wellbeing and needs – bear in mind that these might change over time too – so it’s best to keep checking in with your support system. Let them reassure you that you are not alone and help you to recognise that your exams are now in the untouchable past. 🗣️
Think about the ways in which you can help yourself to feel safe at this time of uncertainty. Do more of the things that make you feel good – from making your favourite meal, spending quality time with people you care about and celebrating small achievements. 🤟
Avoid making demands on yourself
We know some households run on shared responsibilities and spread chores across the family, so whilst we wouldn’t discourage anyone from sticking to family values and patterns, we would discourage taking on any additional chores or tasks at this time. Try to be mindful that you may be feeling more tired or emotionally wrought than usual.
Exercise for happiness
If you already enjoy recreational sport then make sure you keep it up on a regular basis. Participation in regular physical activity can increase self-esteem and reduce stress and anxiety. If you are more of a ‘sit at home and chat with friends’ kind of kid then just try to go for a short walk once a day. Even just 10 minutes of exercise can help – why not try some yoga and mindfulness? 🚴
Get some good sleep
We all need sleep but children and teenagers require considerably more than adults. Nurture a healthy sleep pattern by limiting screens in the bedroom, cutting out caffeine, avoiding binge eating before bed, creating a sleep-friendly bedroom and restricting long weekend lie-ins. A well-rested mind will be much better equipped to deal with challenging emotions. 😴
Learn new skills
This is a great time to nurture your own interests and independent learning. Taking up a new hobby, sport or interest during this period can shift the focus away from strict academic success and towards finding fulfilment outside of school assessment. Try cooking something new for the family, working on a DIY project or trying a new hobby like writing a blog or learning to paint. 🍳
Get social and have fun
Time flies when you are having fun so stay social. Make plans and fill up your calendar in the run-up to results day. Arrange a family trip, go bowling or research what films are on at the cinema. Spending time with friends who are going through the same thing can be a great way to share – and therefore minimise – concerns. 😊
How to deal with results day
So, the big results day has finally arrived. You have managed to keep yourself occupied and optimistic during this time of SATs, 11 Plus, 13 Plus, A-level or GCSE results anxiety but now you actually need to face the music and collect your grades.
More often than not you will need to go to your school in order to collect your results in person. Make sure you are aware of the arrangements so you can be sure to collect your results within the designated hours or nominate someone to collect them on your behalf if necessary.
The night before results day, try to make sure that you have had a healthy evening meal and get plenty of sleep. In the morning, aim to be awake in plenty of time, eat a healthy breakfast and leave the house on time. Make sure that your parents or guardians are available by phone throughout the day. ☎️
Lastly, remember that there is nothing you can do to change the results at this stage. Disappointing results are not the end of the world, there are plenty of ways to retake exams and reassess options but hopefully, you will receive good news so that you can celebrate your success! 🎉