GCSE results day – a survival guide

Picture contributed by Future Mag

The climax to years of hard work and high expectations for 16 year-olds nationwide is nearly here.

Results day is often full of emotions, from elation to disappointment, for parents, teachers and students who can also face huge pressure if their next step is heavily reliant on results - and then there are family expectations to live up to.

So follow this guide, put together with the help of Future Mag’s resident expert Amy Patterson, to make sure that whatever the grades, you’re prepared for the impact they will have.

Students before you get your results – plan your day

This will be your first time back at school for a few months. The summer holidays may mean late nights and late mornings, so perhaps get to bed at a decent time tonight. Maybe plan what you’ll wear and make sure you have something good to eat for breakfast.

How will you get to school? If you’re going with parents or friends, plan when you’ll leave. Leaving things to chance on the morning of your results can cause anxiety. Make sure you’re in control.

Decide who you would like to be there when you read your results and where you want to open them. Some students like to open them with family or friends for support. Others may want to look at their results on their own, to process the information before dealing with the reactions of others.

Make sure you let people know what you want to do. If you want to do it on your own, you may be tempted to take your envelope home, but try to open it while still at school if you can. There you will have the support and advice of teachers and possibly careers advisers if your results impact your next steps.

Understanding your results

So, the moment of truth has passed and you have your grades in front of you.

Most people have a good idea what they’re going to get. There may be some pleasant surprises, or some disappointments, or it may go drastically wrong. The trick is not to panic and understand what this combination of numbers and letters really means for your next step.

You will probably already know the entry requirements of the course you’ve applied for either at college, sixth form, or as an apprentice. Have you met these requirements? If yes, then don’t worry if it’s a little lower than you wanted. You’ve got into your course. Celebrate!

If your grades don’t hit the requirements, try to get in touch with the college or sixth form as soon as you can. There may be representatives at your GCSE results day, or many of them hold a GCSE advice day the following day to respond to any enquiries. Your teachers will help you to organise this – you’re not on your own. You will not be the only person who hasn’t hit the entry requirements. This is something they are used to talking to students about, so don’t be shy.

If the option you’ve planned is no longer available to you, don’t panic. It’s disappointing if your heart is set on something, but there are lots of other things you can do. There may be other courses you haven’t considered which need a lower entry level. You may be able to do your course at Level 2 rather than at Level 3; this way you can ease your way in and work your way up. You may like the look of the many interesting apprenticeship schemes available to school leavers if you decide you want to enter the workplace. Just try to keep an open mind.

Remember, if you don’t pass English or maths GCSEs, you will have a chance to retake them, whether you go to sixth form, college or do an apprenticeship. Your further education provider will help you to pass as part of your next qualification, so don’t worry, you’ll get there.

After your results

Breathe, relax. It’s over!

Make sure you take time to celebrate your successes. GCSEs are a difficult and stressful time, and you got through them. Feel proud of yourself and enjoy the sense of achievement. There is life after GCSEs.

Start to think about the next few weeks. You may have an appointment with your college or sixth form to discuss your results, you may have a few weeks to prepare for a new term and a new start, or you may have interviews for an apprenticeship. This is a time of new beginnings. Those grades are yours. You worked for them, you own them. Now make them work for you.

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