'Don't be afraid to temporarily separate yourself from any friends you know will be panicked'

It’s almost time; sweaty brows and a sleepless night looks set to be rife across the nation as A-level results day looms tomorrow like an unwelcome trip to the dentist.

As well as the usual nagging parents and anxious teachers, this year, the controversy surrounding Scottish Highers and the news that academic subjects have made a comeback – with more students opting to do English and Maths to try and secure top university places – has simultaneously propelled academic results to the top of the news agenda and stress-levels through the roof.

Sixth-formers: I know your pain.

Whilst I am now fully immersed in my student bubble – consisting mainly of books, pizza, and broken kitchen appliances – it was only 12 months ago that I was faced with what felt like the longest wait of my life – and all I can offer you is: trust me, it’s really not that bad.

You may scoff at my dismissal of the stress of results day. After all, I got into my first-choice university, so what could I know about a stressful results day?  Actually, quite a bit.

Last year, thousands of students received quite a shock on results day. Amid reports of grade-fiddling and requests from the Government to limit the number of A and A* grades, there were tears across the country and calls for every single paper sat by some 250,000 A-level students to be remarked free of charge.

Whilst that didn’t happen, more than 150,000 papers were judged to have been marked illegitimately and were sent for remark, and almost 50,000 grades were changed. My grades were included in those.

This leads me on to my first piece of advice for results day: check Ucas before you head in to school or college.

Although UCAS advises that your Track will not be updated on whether or not you have secured a university place until 8am, chances are the information will be available from around 7am. I logged-on at 7.30 to find-out I had been accepted into my first-choice and I certainly wasn’t the first of my friends to do so.

I am so glad I had chosen to check my results beforehand because, despite my annoyance and the processes I had to follow to gain the remarks, knowing that I had already been accepted at the University of East Anglia meant I was still calm and relatively satisfied with the outcome.

By checking Track before you head in to collect your results, some of the tension surrounding the dreaded ‘brown envelope’ is relieved. If you’ve been accepted into university, you may not care about those grades on the paper as you head into school to sign the paperwork.

However, if you have not been successful in winning a university place, then you can come to terms with the disappointment in your own time and space – away from friends and teachers – and start thinking about what your next steps may be.

Clearing is always an option; in 2013, more than 57,000 A-level students were awarded university places through the process. There are an incredible range of courses available through Clearing and, in recent years, many of the Russell Group universities – such as Cardiff, Birmingham, and Nottingham – have offered places on more than 100 courses.

However, it’s not just you who will be anxious in regards to the contents of the envelope – your parents and friends will all be involved with the experience too, but don’t be scared to stay away from friends and family for a short while.

In the days leading up to results day, it’s not just the media that goes into super-analytical overdrive: friends, parents, and other relatives can also be full of ridiculous worries and passive-aggressive advice, such as: ‘You can’t come back and live here if you’ve failed those exams, you know’. Yes, brilliantly funny.

A negative and worried atmosphere will spread like wildfire, so don’t be afraid to temporarily separate yourself from any friends you know will be panicked. Even politely tell your parents to ‘shut up’.

Take yourself off social media and out of the house if you need to; a trip to the beach – or even just a coffee and a book by yourself – will provide you with some really good headspace. Equally, it may be useful to steer clear of the news channels the day before and on the morning of results day. Whilst education is undeniably worthy of national news, it’s not going to be helpful hearing about how the number of pass rates has fallen and seeing some kid in Croydon open his results on national television.

So, take it from a survivor: you will certainly come out of results day alive and well, and hopefully in need of a new bus-pass and set of saucepans. All there is left to say for now? Good luck.

Twitter: @_CaitlinDoherty

Comments