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How to cope on exam results day – anxiety, stress, planning

Waiting for your exam results can be extremely stressful. Panic, guilt and fear about the future are just some of the many feelings you may be experiencing.

There’s nothing wrong with any of this – up and down the country thousands of other young people are experiencing the same emotions.  

We’ve put together some advice to help you cope with your feelings before and on exam results day, and also some practical tips to help ease the stress on the day. We hope this helps.

'Results day nerves getting on top of you? Find out how to cope'

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1. Don’t bottle your feelings up  

If you’re nervous or anxious, talk about it. Tell your family or friends, or write it down in a diary. Don’t be embarrassed about your feelings – you might think nobody else is feeling this way but chances are they are. Exams are stressful.

Talking to a parent about your nerves can help put things

in perspective

Bottling up stress can make it worse, so it’s really important not to keep it all inside.

Childline has some great advice about coping with exam stress. If you’re aged 19 or under, you can contact one of their counsellors for free and talk to them about anything – no problem is too big or too small to them.

Sometimes when you’re anxious you can feel shaky, light-headed and nauseous. Some people have panic attacks; one in 10 people will have at least one at some point in their lives. The main thing to remember is that it’s just anxiety – it can’t harm you, and it will pass.

Read our article on managing anxiety for more information, including helpful relaxation and distraction techniques.

2. Make a plan

Be organised – know what time you’ve got to go and pick up your results and where you need to go.

Making an action plan for the day will help you feel


Think about what you might need to do if you don’t get the grades you were hoping for so you’re not panicking on the day.

For example, if your university place or job offer is dependent on you getting certain results, have their number handy so that you can call them on the day to see if they’re still willing to offer you the place. Also read up on the UCAS Clearing system in advance.

Plan something nice to do with friends or family later in the day so that you have it to look forward to regardless of what happens.

3. Get plenty of rest

Sleep may be the last thing on your mind the evening before results day but a good 40 winks will put you in a good frame of mind to face what lies ahead.

There are things you can do to help those elusive zzzs come your way. Get up nice and early the morning before rather than having a mammoth lie in and do some exercise at some point during the day so that you’re nice and tired when you go to bed.

Avoid too much caffeine, especially six hours before you go to bed, and have a nice, relaxing bath in the evening. Resist the urge to go over and over your exams in your head because it won’t help and there’s really nothing you can do about it now.

It might be an idea to stay off social media if exams are all everyone seems to be talking about because it’ll only make you feel worse. Try reading one of your favourite books instead to help your mind unwind.

4. Don’t go alone

You may not think you want to take your mum along with you to school, but you’ll probably really appreciate having a family member with you when you get there and the nerves set in.

Being with your friends is all well and good - but it might be

best to have a family member there as well

Firstly, if you need to go by car they can drive you and your bundle of nerves there and bring you home again.

Secondly, if things don’t go according to plan, two heads are better than one when it comes to gathering as much info as possible about your next steps, assessing the options and coming up with a plan of action.

Finally, even if they don’t come in handy for either of the above, they might buy you a nice lunch afterwards.

Check out our guide to everything you need to know about exam results day so you're prepared for every possibility.

5. If you didn’t get the exam results you were hoping for

Do not panic. We repeat, do NOT panic. You have plenty of options if you didn’t get the exam grades you wanted.

Take a deep breath and start talking. Speak to your teacher, careers adviser, and whoever else you can to find out what you should do next.

We’ve got a guide to UCAS Clearing and exam resits. You could also consider taking a gap year while you think about what you want to do next or, if you’re keen to keep going with your studies, why not think about an apprenticeship?

Find out as much as you can before making a decision and remember, this is not the end of the world. There are many extremely successful people out there who didn’t get the grades they were hoping for either. There are lots of paths to success so use your disappointment as motivation to find yours.

Again, you may want to stay off social media for the day. Chances are there’ll be lots of excited chatter about results that won’t make you feel any better. 

If you got the exam results you wanted

YAY! Massive well done to you and make sure you celebrate your tremendous achievement.

But be aware that others around you may not have had such happy news – so tone down the gloating, shrieking and general madness until you know that there’s no one nearby who’s upset by their results.

Everything you need to know about results day

What should I expect? What happens next? What if things don't go as planned?

Read our guide now

Image credits

Talking via Ecology Health Center

List via Wikimedia Commons

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