Waiting for exam results can be an anxious time for young people as they may feel that so much is at stake depending on their exam results.
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After the exams
Immediately after the hard work and pressure of exams, parents and young people may feel relieved and relaxed. This may soon give way to an even more stressful period - waiting for and dealing with exam results. This stage can be more uncomfortable than the exams themselves because parents and young people feel helpless. Before or during the exams they could at least do something but now they can only wait.
Children may get caught up in endless repetitions of regret and recrimination, going over what they did or failed to do and how they might have done it differently. Some young people might feel relieved and glad that it is finally over. However, your child reacts and responds, it is important to give them support and help distract them at this time. Don't walk around on eggshells. Instead, try to talk with your child about their feelings and the choices and options facing them.
Waiting for exam results
Have a conversation with your son or daughter to find out what their expectations are, and give them the reassurance that whatever the results, you are proud of them and will be encouraging them in the future to achieve their goals.
If your child is applying for University, equip yourself with information about how to use the clearing system for UCAS (the admissions system for university) as there may be a lot of competition for places.
If your child is hoping to go to college or sixth form, make sure you know who to call and have numbers to hand in case the grades are not quite what you were expecting. It is still worth having a conversation to see if the grades are close enough to get onto the course or a similar one.
Your child may be interested in apprenticeships, in which case, find out as much information as you can so you can give them the best support.
If your child is feeling really anxious or stressed out waiting for the exam results, keep the conversation flowing as best you can. Maybe you can suggest relaxation techniques such as exercise or meditation to help them feel calmer. It may do them good to go out and see their friends and enjoy themselves. This will be a good distraction for them.
What to do if your child's exam results aren’t what you were expecting
If the experience has been too stressful or their results were not what they hoped for, young people may feel like giving up as an immediate reaction. You may need to guide them firmly into going back to education and trying again. You do, however, have to keep a careful balance because young people sometimes have a better idea than their parents as to what is good for them. Don't push them unless it is clear it is towards something they want to do.
Plan or have an event to mark the results. Celebrate the effort that went into them and make it clear that you love, respect and value your child for who they are, independent of their achievements.
- Try to separate what you might have wished for yourself at their age from what they wish for themselves now. Support them in their dreams and goals.
- Whatever pose they put on, your child cares deeply about their results and about your attitudes towards them. Encourage them to talk and reassure them that you are behind them and love them whatever the results.
Planning next steps with your child
Know who to call at the school for advice or support. If your child had a place at college conditional on results, have a contact number - you can often negotiate on a lower grade. And know how to get in touch with UCAS (Universities and Colleges Admission Service) to find a place at another college if the first one falls through.
Anticipate underlying problems that might have been put on the backburner during the exam period could suddenly emerge once the crisis is over. You may need to acknowledge what has been simmering under the surface for some time and address it, head on.
If the experience has been too stressful or their results were not as good as they hoped; young people may be ready to give up at this stage. Parents may need to guide them firmly into going back to education and trying again. It's important to keep a careful balance. Young people sometimes have a better idea than their parents as to what is good for them.
Parents and children need to communicate - and this means both talking and listening to each other. It might help to get an outsider such as a teacher, mediator, youth counsellor or mentor to help.
It may help to chat to other parents on our forums to find out how they are dealing with this issue within their family life. You can also talk to us online via our live chat service, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on our helpline on 0808 800 2222 to speak to trained family support worker.
Other organisations that may be useful:
Visit the National Careers Service for advice on next steps
Young Minds have some helpful advice for young people on exam results