Top Five Tips For Surviving Results Day

22/08/2017 17:01
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Gareth is a coach on BBC Learning's The Mind Set campaign. For information, support and advice on revision and exams visit:

So, you've finished sitting your GCSEs and are currently enjoying the best (and longest) summer holiday you've had. It's pretty great, right? No worries, no pressure and no commitments.
It's tragic that two words can take you away from your care-free utopia and bring you straight back down to reality. You've probably guessed I'm talking about results day.

Your friends start reminding you how many days, hours, seconds there are until the big day (read directly from their 'countdown' app) and that annoying celebrity posts their annual "I failed my A-Levels and now I'm on a superyacht" tweet. You begin to realise that results day isn't just a fancy term used by teachers to scare you into revising, but an inevitable reality that you can't duck out of.

I've been there, done that and lived to tell the tale. So here are my best pieces of advice to help GCSE students through the build-up to results day... and whatever follows.

• Have a plan for the day
You'll feel way more prepared for the big day if you've made some basic arrangements. Ask yourself obvious questions, like 'what time will the school open?', 'will mum come in with me to open the envelope or should she stay put in the car?', 'should I stay around for photos or get out of there as quickly as I can?'. It's not nice to think about, but preparation is key to controlling results-day-induced stress.

• Know what grades you actually need
It's impossible to predict what grades you'll get, but it is possible to anticipate which are your strongest and weakest subjects. Ask yourself in advance what grade you'll be happy to achieve in each subject.

Do this based on your predicted grades, your mock results and the grade boundaries for the last couple of years (find these on the website of your exam board). Do a bit of research into the college course you're applying for and the minimum GCSE grades they ask for. As long as you meet that criteria, you can relax and truthfully say those months of hard work have paid off.

• Consider your Plan B
Always be optimistic, but know there's a chance your grades might slip in some subjects. If this does happen, it's vital you have a back-up plan.

Whether an alternative A Level course with lower entry requirements, a BTEC/NVQ or an exam re-sit, it's reassuring to know it's not the end of the world if you don't get what you hoped for in every one of your GCSEs. There are alternative routes into loads of different courses, and doors are still open to a massive choice of career paths.

• Don't compare yourself to anyone
I used to hate it when people told me this. Of course you want to know how your friends are feeling. Of course you want to know whether it was just you who messed up that History Unit 1 exam. But don't ever think your results aren't great just because someone else did a little bit better.

If you're really disappointed with any of your results, don't lose self-esteem. Remind yourself that it was probably down to you having one bad day at the office. The exam paper might have been a tricky one, or you might have been thrown by the wording of a question. Luck plays a massive part in your exams too.

• Celebrate, hard
I know how much of a cliché it is, but this piece of advice is just as important as any other. After everyone picks up that piece of paper, you can physically feel the awkward mix of emotions. The best way to eliminate that atmosphere is having a massive get-together with other exam survivors. Whether you want to celebrate your results or take your mind off them, this is a perfect opportunity to enjoy what's left of your summer break.