Results day: managing emotions and next steps

Mental Health UK and Brampton College offer advice on managing results day stress and what alternative routes are available if expected results aren't achieved

With A-level results day on Thursday and GCSE results day the following week, it is important teachers encourage students to take care of their mental health at this high-stress time.

Laura Peters, head of advice and information services at Mental Health UK, has five tips for independent school teachers to give their students to help them manage their emotions.

Exercise

Peters said: “In the week running up to results day a great way to relieve additional pressure is by increasing those heart rates by working out or playing sport. There are plenty of ways to do this, so it’s important for students to find something that they really love – it doesn’t have to feel like a chore. Cycling, walking, running or going to the gym are all popular options.”

Sleep

“Exam season can heighten emotions, but a good night’s rest can enable people to rationalise and keep their emotions at bay. Keeping a regular routine in the week leading up to exam results day, by going to bed and waking up at roughly the same time each day, can also have positive effects on mental health.”

Diet

“For students and young people feeling the pressure in the run up to exam results it can become all too easy to overindulge. We’d suggest stepping away from those doughnuts on results day morning and swapping it for a healthy alternative, like porridge or fruit, to kick-start the day in the best way possible.

“Another important way to maintain a healthy diet in the lead up to results day is by staying well hydrated, drinking plenty of water and avoiding too many caffeinated or alcoholic drinks – this will just increase feelings of anxiety.”

Plan something nice

“The best way to manage emotions during this period of waiting is by filling time with meaningful activities which they can seek enjoyment from. In the lead up to exam results day, students should plan one activity every day, which could include seeing friends, spending time with family, watching that long-awaited Netflix series, or simply reading a book and having some well-deserved me-time.

“After receiving exam results, students should go and celebrate no matter what the circumstance may be. It’s important to reward the sheer hard work and determination involved with getting exam results and a great way to do this is by planning something special with loved ones.”

Seek expert advice

“Whether young people attain the results they wanted, or do better or worse than expected, expert advice can be helpful. Some independent schools may have career advisers on hand on results day to support students, but the school grounds, full of fellow pupils receiving results may not be the best place to think through career options.

“The National Careers Service Exam Results Helpline (0800 100 900) is a free service available for both parents and young people to seek advice and support following exam results. Calling the Exam Results Helpline can be a good way of quickly finding out about the routes they can now take and the best way for them to move forward.”

Alternative routes

Bernard Canetti, principal of Brampton College, encourages students who haven’t achieved the results they wanted not to panic, but to consider clearing or re-taking exams.

He said: “What I do believe is a shame is when a student misses the chance to follow their dreams simply because they don’t view re-taking as an option. To these young people I would say: don’t be willing to settle for second best! There may be bumps in the road, but this doesn’t mean it isn’t worth pursuing.

“Over the years, I’ve seen hundreds of students doing a re-take course transform their prospects for gaining a place at university as well as their confidence in their academic abilities.”

He added: “At Brampton we often accept students who previously hadn’t realised re-taking was a viable option. Others often won’t consider it due to the length of time involved and desire to start university at the same time as their friends.

“These are, of course, factors to consider, and it may be the case that if you’ve missed out on the opportunity to study medicine, you’re still enthusiastic about accepting a place for biology or pharmacy elsewhere. However, last year six of our students who re-sat their A-levels achieved a place at university to read medicine.”


The National Careers Service website: www.nationalcareersservice.direct.gov.uk