Exam results and supporting your mental health

by Suffolk Mind Team | 17 Aug 2023

August can be a tense time for GCSE, A-level, T-level and VTQ students alike, as exam results are feverishly anticipated.

Often, there is the perception that this is a ‘make-or-break’ moment which decides our future, or defines who we are as individuals.

However, it’s important to remember that, whatever the outcome may be, you are not your exam results.

In this article, three members of the Suffolk Mind team share their advice and tips to support your mental health during exam results day and beyond.

Ezra Hewing, Head of Education at Suffolk Mind, says:

“It can be hard to handle the stress which comes with exam results. This is particularly the case if the results affect our expectations about university placements, or other plans for the future.

“The first thing to do is to take some time out to try and relax and calm down. Then, try to keep in mind that, while the way you feel about your current situation may feel fixed and beyond your control, this too shall pass.

“It is unlikely that you will still feel the same about your exam results in a year or two, and you may have even forgotten about them altogether in five to 10 years. This is because you will have been too busy learning and growing in other areas of your life.

“Secondly, remember that exams are not learning – they are a way of testing what examiners are looking for. This means that you are not your exam results.

“What employers are really looking for when they interview you are your personality strengths. This is especially true following the pandemic, which has changed workplaces forever.

“More than ever before, employers will be on the lookout for people with determination, reliability, conscientiousness, positive attitude and willingness to learn new skills – all things which you can’t tell from exam results.”

Ellie Winch, our Marketing & Engagement Manager, adds:

“Did you know that some of the most successful people in the world didn’t get good exam results? Sir Richard Branson, Heston Blumenthal, Tinie Tempah, Deborah Meaden and Jake Humphrey are all well-known for their thriving careers, but they also didn’t get great grades at school.

“If your results aren’t what you hoped for, try making a list of all the things you are good at. This will help you meet your need for achievement despite exam results day.

“For instance, are you good at sports? Amazing – write it down. Good at drawing or music? Fantastic – write that down. Good at cheering people up? There’s no GCSE for that, so write it down.

“Whatever your exam results may be, you deserve to enjoy doing something you love today – either to celebrate, or to take your mind off of things.”

Louise Harris, our Children, Families and Young People Training Manager, says:

“When picking up exam results, we may wish that we had more control of the outcome. We recommend the following tips to help you stay calm:

  • Talk to people you trust at home and in your place of education about how you feel
  • Focus on what options there are available to you, such as taking another course or re-sitting an exam
  • Take your time. There is no need to make any rushed decisions, especially when you are feeling the effects of stress.

Louise adds: “Using 7/11 breathing can also help you to return to wellbeing and allow you to make choices about what to do next with a calm approach. Often, people discover that the path they didn’t expect to take was right for them in other ways.”

Watch our 7/11 breathing video below, or download our support guide for more tips and guidance to support your mental health.

by Suffolk Mind Team
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