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How to Go From a C to an A*

A woman comforts a girl who looks upset about school results by putting her arm around her

Everyone, at some stage, will have that gut sinking feeling after opening an unfavourable test result. But, it is ok! Do not despair and always try to be open minded. After all, exams are just one piece of a very big education puzzle and most things can be fixed in one way or another.


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There are a number of reasons why a student may not perform to the standard that teachers have predicted or they themselves expect. I definitely experienced this and whilst at the time it was the worst thing in the world, I look at it now as a great lesson.

I had always enjoyed school and achieved consistently high grades until I opened my AS level results and was struck with horror. I thought that there was no way that I could go back to school and face my friends or my teachers, and I would never get into University to study law. Once the initial panic had passed I realised that I could either accept this, aged 16, as the end of my dream legal career or realise that it wasn’t the result I wanted but I still had time to change the outcome. Thankfully, through hard-work and perseverance I changed my C to an A*. Here are some tips that can help.   


1. On Opening Results


Don’t Panic: Panic and worry were the exact reasons that I did not achieve the grades that I wanted in the first place and it is also the reaction I had when I opened my results. On reflection, this wasn’t useful either before or after exams so try to remain calm.


Talk to someone: A brilliant way to instantly feel calm is to talk to your teacher or another trusted staff member. You can arrange to have a meeting and to have an honest conversation about your results. Teachers are great at giving constructive feedback and can use their experience to give you tips on how to tackle the next steps.

Take a look at 5 inspirational quotes to read before results day. >>

Feeling stressed about results day? Check out some of our tips on mindfulness. >>

2. After Results

Re-evaluate your revision techniques: This was the biggest factor that helped me change my results. Every person will have different ways in which they learn best including: visual, auditory, reading/writing or kinaesthetic. Once I realised that I couldn’t just re-write my entire course book and expect that to magically resurface during exams, I thought about incorporating different techniques into my revision.

Visual Learners: You can use charts, graphs and diagrams to link ideas to images. This was my favourite way to revise.

Auditory: Thinking out loud (cue Ed Sheeran). You could teach a family member or friend an idea through mini-presentations. Alternatively, you could record yourself on a phone and listen to it.  

Reading/Writing: Instead of re-writing your notes for the whole year, which is what I did the first time around, you could try to summarise key points on cue cards.

Kinaesthetic: If you’re more of a hands-on learner then incorporate tactile revision techniques like games or exercises.

There is a lot of information on different ways to learn and it can be quite fun to find out the best ways that will work for you. Again, if you are unsure you can always ask your teachers for suggestions.

Plan ahead: This is very important because it will put you in control of your learning from the beginning. A good idea is to write out all of your modules and exams in advance and then go through them and evaluate yourself. You can use any type of system that works for you, I used a colour code. This helped me prioritise the modules that I would need to spend more time on.

As with anything, try to start earlier rather than later. If you can give yourself more time to understand a topic, then you will not panic when the exam dates get closer.

Have a look at our tips for effective revision techniques. >>

Need help planning a revision timetable. Read this blog post. >> 


Stress release: There are so many diverse ways to relax and unwind, which is essential during revision. The key to finding this is just to allow yourself time to take part in something that you enjoy. This is related to the point above – plan ahead. It is important to plan a few things to look forward to as it can be easy to get wrapped up in revising and stress.


The first time I took my AS level exams I became a bit of a hermit. This did nothing more than send me into overdrive mode and when it came to my exams I had burned out and my mind refused to work. The second time, I scheduled breaks and days out which helped me immensely.  

Pre-exam routines: The basic idea behind exam routines is to allow yourself to be well rested and have a clear head. You would have done all of the hard work during revision season so you can relax and walk in there and own it!

My pre-exam routine was to try to exercise frequently, stop revising by 5 pm the previous night, have a nice dinner and go to bed early. In comparison to trying to frantically learn new information late into the night and being stressed and tired during the exam the next day.

 

Overall, a bad result will not be the end of your dreams. There could be so many reasons for it and it does happen to all of us. Keep calm, talk to a teacher and think of what you could do differently next time around.

Author: Anita Hodea

 

Need more advice or reassurance as results day approaches: 

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