Thousands of young adults across Scotland are about to receive their high school exam results. Naturally, it is a time that often brings with it stress, anxiety and other negative emotions for youngsters and their parents. In the first of a two-part blog, we offer our advice and top tips for young adults about to receive exam results.
1. It is normal to feel this way about exam results
As providers of counselling for young people, at The Spark we know all about the highs and lows of exam results. Waiting for and receiving your exam results is likely to bring with it a range of emotions. The most common are likely to be:
- Happiness or excitement
- Panic or anxiety
- Guilt, confusion or sadness
Our first top tip is that these are normal feelings and sensations. You are not odd or weird to experience these feelings, and they are very common.
How you feel about the results you receive is typically related to expectations. These may be your own expectations or those of your parents, school or community. You may receive the exam results you were hoping for or they may not match your expectations. Either way, understand that it is normal and natural to experience these types of emotions.
If you receive results that are what you hoped for, then it’s time to celebrate. But it might be worth considering that some of your friends may not have. Celebrating your results is important but try to hold off on the general madness until you know how everyone is feeling.
2. These are just one set of exam results
Receiving disappointing exam results can often feel like the end of the world. The pressure you place on yourself or the pressure that comes from the expectations of others can leave you feeling like this is a defining moment in your entire life.
While they are important the second top tip from The Spark is that these are just one set of exam results and in no way represent your worth as a human being.
3. You have more options than you first think
If you do receive results that were not what you were hoping for there are more options available to you than you will initially think. Here are a few things to consider:
- Try not to compare: although you may be keen to hear how your friends have done try not to compare your result to theirs.
- Focus on the present: what’s done is done but you will have many more opportunities to measure your success beyond this one result.
- Take a bow: completing your exams is a massive achievement in itself. It requires a considerable amount of effort and discipline to complete exams, irrespective of the grades you receive.
- Talk about it: talking to someone about how you are feeling may help you to cope; this may be your friends, family, religious leader or a counsellor.
- Get advice: consider speaking to a teacher or careers advisor. You may be able to re-sit the exam either in the next year at school or potentially at college.
- Don’t assume: if your exam results are not exactly what you need for entry to university or college, do not automatically assume you will no longer be able to secure a place. Find out as much as you can before making any decisions. Phone your university/college as they may be able to still offer you a place even if you didn’t get the result you were aiming for.
- Speak to the experts: telephone the dedicated exam results helpline operated by Skills Development Scotland which is available from 8 am on the day results are released this year. These guys are the people to talk to about results and options for Scottish Qualifications Authority exam results.
- Re-set expectations: you may consider re-evaluating your own expectations and any limitations you have put on your goal by this result (is there another route you could take to achieve the same outcome?
- Do something fun: get out and go to the movies, see friends, read a book, get active at the gym. Don’t sit and keep thinking about your results.
- Be careful on social media: everyone may be posting about their results and sharing exam selfies. While it is gracious to be happy for others and congratulate them you may need a few days to yourself before you feel able to do this. Other people may also be asking for you to share your results with them. It is okay to do this if you feel comfortable but remember it is okay to keep your results to yourself until you feel comfortable to share them. When you do feel comfortable to share you do not have to tell everyone!
- Remember your strengths: in the modern workplace, academic qualifications are important but are not the only factor in securing future employment. Soft skills, practical work experience, extra-curricular activities and the like can all be just as valuable to employers.
4. No exam result is so important that it will stop you achieving your goals
Remember that no exam result is so important that it will stop you achieving your goals in the long term. Have a think, what is another route you could take? Are there other options? What are your goals? Does this result actually affect them?
Keep in mind that completing formal further education is not essential for future success. The likes of Simon Cowell, Sir Richard Branson, Karen Brady and Apple founders Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak all went on to successful and rewarding careers without completing further education.
In part 2 of our blog, we will cover our Parents’ guide to exam results.
Exam results stress and support
If the stress of waiting for exam results is causing issues for you – perhaps between you and your parents or you and your friends – The Spark can provide support and counselling services for individuals and families.
If you are 16 years of age or older, you can talk to one of our helpline team for free on 0808 802 2088 available 11am-2pm every Tuesday and Wednesday.
For counselling sessions and support freephone 0808 802 0050 or complete a counselling enquiry form. There is no age restriction for counselling appointments.