When you open that fateful envelope on results day, hopefully all your friends will see a great big smile working its way across your face. You’ll have got the grades you wanted—the ones that guarantee you a place in the sixth form college or university of your choice, studying the courses that you want to study.
However, it’s equally important to know that not getting the grades you wanted needn’t be a disaster.
If you didn’t get the grade for the course you wanted, you essentially have three options: have the paper remarked, resit the exam, or change your plans to suit your results.
If you’re convinced that your paper should have got a higher grade than the one you were given, the first thing to do is request your exam script back, through your School’s Examination Officer. This lets you compare the examiner’s notes with the mark scheme and judge whether it’s worth asking the exam board to remark the paper.
If the paper needs to be remarked urgently, for example because a university place is pending, then you can get the paper remarked without reviewing the exam script.
Be aware with this route that you may be spending a lot of money whilst setting yourself up for a second disappointment. With borderline grades, however, remarking papers can have helpful results.
There are plenty of reasons why you may not have done as well in the exam hall as you wanted. Be honest with yourself: did you attend all the lessons and do all the homework? Did you revise as hard as you might have done?
Of course, a disappointing grade need not be your fault: problems like illness, anxiety and sleeplessness can affect exam performance, making you struggle in an exam you thought would be a walkover.
Also, if you have a learning disability or a hearing or visual impairment, you may not have used the extra time you are entitled to.
If you decide to go down the resit route, make sure you are adequately prepared for your second exam. Revise heavily beforehand, hiring a tutor if necessary, and make sure you go into the exam comfortable and confident.
If you feel like you’ve done your best and still come nowhere near the grade you wanted, be aware that your plans may have to change. It doesn’t mean that all hope of studying the subject you wanted is gone forever; there are Access courses to ensure that even students without the GCSEs they hoped for can still go to university.
It may be practical to investigate another career path related to the one you wanted to pursue. If you didn’t get the grades to study medicine, for instance, you may still have the qualifications to study nursing. If you’re unable to study law, you may still be able to get a job with a firm of solicitors as a receptionist or secretary.
Most importantly, remember it’s not the end of the world. Many people change careers several times over the course of their lives, and some of Earth’s greatest thinkers failed their school exams.
In the meantime, Cardiff and Vale Tutors wish you the best of luck!