Coping with exam results day

Whether you’ve got A level, AS level or GCSE results anxiety, the thought of results day is enough to make even the most confident among us break out in a cold sweat. That’s where we come in. Read The Mix’s guide to surviving exam results day to get some tips for making the best of it, no matter what your results are.

A young person is looking at something on her friend's phone

How do exam results work?

We know what you’re thinking, “How do exam results work?” They’ve been hyped up so much by teachers, but never really explained in detail. Well, class is in session.

Generally speaking, students sit their mock exams in the autumn and sit exams in the summer which count towards their final grade. After exam season is over, everything is taken away to be marked and moderated by the exam boards. Then, a few weeks later on results day (usually around August 12th), everyone receives their grades and results in person at school or college. 

Although it’s worth mentioning that ever since the pandemic rocked our world in 2020, the method for sitting exams and collecting your results can either be completely online, completely in person or a hybrid of both. It honestly just depends on the state of the world and what school and colleges are being told to do. In fact, the GCSE results and A level results over the past few years have been assessed using a range of evidence, rather than a few written papers; but this is the exception rather than the norm.

Exam results day in the UK is stressful

It’s important to remember that marks aren’t everything. Waiting for exam results can be an emotional rollercoaster, so we know that this might not mean anything while you’re on it. Especially if you’re doing your GCSE exams, meaning this is your first rodeo. Maybe even more so if you’re in Year 13 and desperately refreshing UCAS track to see if you’ve got into your uni of choice. 

Regardless, we need to say this. We promise that you can still have a happy future, no matter what grades you get. Okay, now that all the mushy stuff is out of the way let’s get to what you came here for. Whether you’ve taken GCSEs, SQAs, Scottish Highers or A-levels, The Mix has some advice to help you through.

How to prepare for exam results day

It’s natural to feel stressed about exam results day in the UK. Luckily, there’s actually a tonne of different things you can do beforehand to help you sleep at night. For instance, you can write a list of phone numbers that you might need when your grades have come through. Plus, it’s not too late to get in touch with your careers advisor if you’re after a last-minute chat. By doing these types of things during the day you’ll be able to put your mind at ease and get some well-deserved rest.

We’re here for you, too. You can try reading these articles to help quell any GCSE or A level results anxiety: 

On results day

Don’t overthink it. It doesn’t matter where or when you open that envelope – what’s inside isn’t gonna change. Once you finally rip off the bandaid make sure you know what your next step is before running out the door with your mates. If not, then don’t be afraid to have a chat with your form tutor or head of year. Remember, their only purpose on results day is literally to help you out in any way they can. You could also call the UCAS exam results helpline on 0800 100 900. 

And don’t forget to check out our articles on some of your options if things don’t go your way: 

What to do after exam results day

Honestly, it doesn’t really matter if you got the grades you wanted, exceeded your expectations, or messed up badly. You aren’t Marty McFly which means that time travel isn’t an option. But you know what? A tonne of other things are! Exams can always be retaken, if you’re unhappy you can also appeal to the exam board. Plus, if exams are just not for you there’s always other ways to showcase your talents.

 You can find out more about any of the things we’ve listed by checking out these articles: 

If you need some support coping with results day

Get in touch with our team. They’re here to listen and talk through any issues you might be having. No judgment at all. And if you want some advice from your peers then just head to our community boards to speak to other young people who are going through the same thing you are.

Next Steps

  • Student Minds is the UK's student mental health charity. Search their website for information, research, and to see how you could get involved.
  • Mind offers advice and support to people with mental health problems. Their helpline runs nine to six from Monday to Friday. 0300 123 3393
  • Our Crisis Messenger provides free, 24/7 crisis support across the UK. If you’re aged 25 or under, you can text THEMIX to 85258
  • If you're under 25 and would like free confidential telephone counselling from The Mix to help you figure things out complete this form and we'll call you to arrange your first session.
  • Chat about this subject on our Discussion Boards.
  • Need help but confused where to go locally? Download our StepFinder iPhone app to find local support services quickly.

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results day

By Holly Turner

Updated on 13-Apr-2022