How to stop worrying about your exam results

Young woman in yoga pose

Stay calm and have a stress-free summer – you've earned it

Once your exams are over, you can stop fretting about your revision schedule and time management for a while. But your focus is naturally going to shift to results day, and you’re bound to start worrying about that instead.

Will you pass, will you get in to the university you want and will everything work out? Pretty much everyone who takes exams feels anxious in the run up to getting the results.

Experiencing a certain amount of worry is completely normal and to be expected. But if you’re finding yourself constantly thinking about results, we have a few pieces of advice that might help.

Take the time to think about your results

This may seem like contradictory advice, but hear me out. Spend half an hour sitting by yourself with no distractions, taking deep breaths and thinking about your results. Imagine how you’ll feel if you get the grades you want. Allow yourself time to savour this positive feeling without allowing any negative thoughts to get through.

Then think about what will happen if your results aren't what you wanted. What’s really the worst that can happen? It might take you a little longer to get to where you want to be in life, but with perseverance you’ll still get there.

Universities may still let you in even if you didn’t fully achieve the grades they asked for. And Clearing is getting bigger each year, with more universities and courses becoming available.

TSR member BEON22 said: "If you do fail you will live and actually, it may lead you to something else in life or if you are resilient to change and will push on then you may possibly still reach high no matter what. So don't give up, rest for the next few days then appreciate the time you have off."

Young man outside looking calm

Make a battle plan

Now that you’ve given yourself time to think, it’s time to get up and do something productive. If you’re hoping for a uni place and think you might have to go through Clearing, start doing some research.

Clearing choices are available through UCAS, so have a look at what might be a suitable fit for you, and which universities are offering places. Have a look on the website for each university you might be considering, and make a note of their admissions number and the course code.

Keep this handy on results day just in case – but most likely you’ll be throwing it away once you’ve made your grades and got into the university you originally planned to go to. 

It can seem like if you don’t go to your first choice university, the future is very uncertain. But once you’ve given yourself some options, the future will look much brighter. 

clickypen had the following advice for a student worrying about their exam results: "Even those people saying that the exams are a blessing will start to doubt themselves between now and results day.

"Don't fret it. You've got a plan for if it all goes pear-shaped, but the chances are you'll be OK."

Think positively

One of the worst things about exam results nerves is constantly beating yourself up about what could have been. Instead of thinking about what you could have done, focus on what went well.

DanielCampbell was pleasantly surprised when his results came through: "I didn't think I did hugely well, but it turns out I was better than I thought! To think about all of the worrying I've done over the last few weeks, 'I'm going to fail!', 'I'll probably do badly in Maths and have to do it again'. I should have just been more confident in my abilities."

Remember that mock where you got an A, those fantastic revision notes you made, or a breakthrough with a topic you thought you’d never understand? Make a list of them – it’ll be longer than you think! Whenever your thoughts turn sour, focus on what you did well instead.

I should have just been more confident in my abilities.

Distract yourself

It's important not to get bogged down in planning for the worst, so spend some time having fun over the summer.

Maybe there's a TV show or film you've been wanting to watch, a book you didn't have time to read over the exam period. Or you could make some plans with your friends. Now is also the perfect opportunity to make a start on personal projects and challenges.

Pathway said: "Honestly, there is nothing you can do about it right now. What will be, will be. Try and take your mind off it. Learn a new language, go on holiday, get a job, hang out with friends, etc. Do things that can distract you from it, it's outside of your control."

Go to TSR's Summer hub for articles on fun activities and work experience tips for the long break.

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