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Results day stress and mental health

A Level results day is stressful, especially if you already suffer from anxiety or other mental health issues. Read our tips to help you cope.

Teen checking smart phone at home

How do you deal with results day stress?

We've compiled a list of tips and techniques to help you through this stressful period. Not all will be right for you, so pick and choose the ones you think will work.

1. Talk to people around you

Mental health issues aren't uncommon among students, so you'll likely know others who are struggling or teachers who've helped students in the past. Your parents or older relatives may have also felt the same sort of emotions waiting for their results. Don't bottle up your feelings.

2. Plan for the best and worst outcomes

Exams don’t always go to plan and you might not get the grades you need. Make sure you’ve researched what to do on results day and how Clearing works, but don’t dwell on the worst-case scenario. Think of a way to celebrate with friends and family if you do get the results you need.

Importantly, exam success doesn't define you as a person. Everyone copes differently in different situations and there's so much more to your personality than how well you can respond to an exam.

3. Maintain a normal routine

Try not to let waiting for your exams take over your summer. Keep yourself as busy as possible to distract yourself from results day stress. If you have hobbies, keep up with them and try to stick with any plans you’ve made, such as holidays and spending time with friends. 

4. Make sure you’re in the country for results day (and for a few days after)

Being in a different country for the exam results period can make things complicated. Not only will it make it more difficult to obtain your results and get advice from teachers and advisers, contacting universities if you need to go through Clearing will be considerably harder too.

5. Have someone with you when you collect your results

It’s important to have someone with you on the day to offer reassurance, talk through options if your results aren't what you wanted, or hopefully celebrate your success with. This could be a parent, sibling, friend or even a teacher.

6. Don’t feel like you have to open your results with friends or share what you got

On results day, there can be a lot of peer pressure to open results at the same time and share what you got with everyone, but that doesn't mean you have to. You can collect your results and open them at home to avoid this scenario. Or, many schools and colleges will publish results online or offer a text results service.

7. Don’t compete or compare your results with others 

A common feature of results day is students sharing their results on social media and this can lead to comparing your results unfavourably. It may help to avoid social media completely for a few days.

If you can’t keep away, just remember to judge your success by your own standards. If you know you worked hard for your grades, but your friend got higher ones, that doesn’t make your achievement any less impressive.

More advice

If you’re struggling with anxiety or depression, ask your GP for a referral to NHS Talking Therapies, or you can self-refer via the NHS website.

For more advice on mental health and exam stress, you can contact one of many charities and organisations specialising in the mental health of university students, including:

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