Image source: Exam Stress

Getting Over Your Exam Results

We spend a very big part of our lives studying. From a very young age, we are divided into classes or sets based on our capability to answer questions on pieces of paper. We are ranked against each other; we are constantly competing to be the best. In fact, it is considered unusual when we are not aiming for the top.

Whenever we hear the quote: “Results do not dictate your future”, we just can’t help but think it is a lie. The quote is frustrating, made from a privileged perspective, and makes you want to drop out of school even more than ever.

But, in our current education system, results are virtually the only thing that can demonstrate the effort and capability we put into what we learn. In such a diverse world with a growing population, results are becoming increasingly more prominent, whether we like it or not. But, one thing that can go a long way would be to learn how to cope with our results, no matter if it’s good or bad.

1) Accept it

Humans are built to always be feeling several emotions at once. In fact, we often feel both positive and negative feelings together. Recall the first time you ever did anything – riding a rollercoaster, driving a car, going to school… what did you feel? Was it excitement and fear? Was it dread and delight?

It is the same for when we enter that exam hall – we feel mixtures of guilt from not being prepared enough and anxiety from the possibility of not being able to do good enough. But, we also feel hope for knowing there is a possibility of us doing amazing.

There is virtually nothing you can do after you leave that exam hall. Instead of focusing solely on the negative emotions, remind yourself that you are feeling the positive ones too – relief, hope, freedom. You have done it – yes, maybe you could not answer some questions, or there was something you wish that you had more time to work on. But, you did it and that is all that should matter at the moment.

Image source: Kingdown School

2) Talking about it

Today with social media and easier communication, we are definitely more vocal about our feelings. Many of us are allowing ourselves to be more vulnerable by opening up about our experiences, and we are increasingly becoming more open to hearing and helping the people around us. However, the initial act of opening up is always daunting and scary.

Telling people about what you feel can be an embarrassing situation. But, being able to talk about it confidently, is a skill that everyone secretly envies. Some people think that talking about past issues or failure applauds and encourages it. But actually, talking normalises it – after all, it is a natural occurrence to not be able to do something until you learn and practise. Normalising the process of “talking about failure” allows US to take control of IT, instead of IT controlling US.

We have seen many interviews of successful people opening up about their “darker” pasts – Robert Downey Jr and his battle with drugs, J.K. Rowling and having to send “Harry Potter” to 12 different publishers before one accepted it, and even Michael Jordan who got cut from his high school basketball team for not being good enough. So, why can’t we do the same?

Image source: Big Think

If we can talk about success the same way we talk about failure, we would definitely be much happier. We would be able to learn from our mistakes more sincerely, be less judgmental about the mistakes we see and be more honest with ourselves.

3) Get help for it

Many cope with pressure or stress very differently. Some people fall physically sick before an exam and some choose to do things excessively (spend, eat, drink…). For some people, it might be more of a mental change – some avoid doing anything and anyone for days, but some have more serious, major changes in their thoughts and emotions.

If you feel differences in yourself, it is important to identify what it is, and then do something about it. There might be times where you might not be too sure, so do not feel afraid to ask those closest to you – they might be able to better identify what is going on or know what to do. This might not apply to everyone’s situation, but there are many counselling or help services online and offline that will be able to assist you better. Many of them do not require referral letters from doctors or even a fee.

4) Look forward

Many of us linger on the past a lot. Although doing so allows us to better reflect on our mistakes and keeps us guarded, it can often throw us off the path we should be heading down. To reiterate the first point, it is important to accept that some things cannot be changed. Instead of looking back at what we could have done, you can look at what you can do.

Image source: Fundera

One solution would be to list out ALL of your possibilities, from worst-case scenarios to best-case ones. This can eliminate some of the anxiety you feel about your exam results and also broaden your perspectives about your future – you do not always have to take the most common path everyone does. Here are some questions you can consider:

  • What institutions or programmes do I qualify for with my worst-case scenario results?
  • What institutions or programmes do I qualify for with my best-case scenario results?
  • How big of a difference do both scenarios have?
  • Is retaking the exam something I can do?

At the end of the day, nothing can really soften the blow to your self-esteem or confidence by your poor results. However, being able to relieve some of the anxiety that comes even before getting your results can do wonders for your health and well-being.

So today, I will leave you with a quote from myself:

“Sometimes, the most attractive door you see will not open for you. But, eventually, you will realise that every other open door you walked past led to the same destination.”

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