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What to Do if You Don’t Get the Grades You Need

What to do if You Don’t Get the Grades You Need main image

By Lizzie Exton

The summer holidays may have started, but many students will struggle to put the dreaded results day out of their minds.  It seems to cast a long shadow over what should be sunny and carefree days, looming over you until the moment of the big reveal, in which you’ll finally find out how well or how poorly you performed in your GCSEs or A-Levels.  For some it will be smiles all round, but for others there will be disappointment - so what should you do if you don’t get the grades you need?

Don’t panic

The first thing you must do if you don’t get the grades you need is to stay calm, which is of course much easier said than done.  Not getting the grades you hoped for can feel like the end of the world, and while we can’t promise you’ll wake up feeling better the next day or even in a month’s time, one day soon you will.  Nobody ever believes their older friends and family when they say they understand, but there are more people in the world who have flunked an exam than there are straight-A people.

Consider appealing

Don’t throw in the towel on education because of disappointing exam results.  If you think there must have been some sort of mistake or your grade seems unreasonably low, then think about appealing to the exam board.  Examiners aren’t perfect, and every year there will be students sending their papers back for regrading due to some sort of error in the marking.  If you really think your paper has been unfairly marked down, chat with your teacher and see about having it sent back for a second opinion.

Don’t clam up

It’s easy to turn inward when things don’t go to plan.  Self-criticism can be incredibly destructive, so it’s important to talk to people about how you’re feeling.  Nobody will blame you for not getting a higher grade – everyone has their off days and even the pushiest of parents only ever want to see their children happy.  If you really don’t think you can face your parents and talk openly with them, at least meet up with your best friends and chat things over.

Consider a Plan B

So Plan A didn’t work out, but did you have a Plan B lined up?  Even if you only had the vaguest idea of other options, now would be a really good time to start looking into alternatives a little more closely.  If you’ve missed out on the UCAS grades you need to get into your first-choice uni, think about going through the clearing system.  There are always places elsewhere up for grabs and they might be even better than your first choice in the end.  If you haven’t got the GCSEs to get onto you chosen A-Level courses then think about other things you might be good at and get some guidance from a careers advisor.

Consider another route into work

Believe it or not, you don’t need A-Levels or a degree to forge a brilliant career.  If you decide to pack in formal education altogether then there are other routes into the workplace.  Apprenticeship schemes are growing in popularity and you can start earning while you’re learning.  There are also some incredible internships out there in some big-name companies, and most don’t need you to have a glittering CV or top grades.

It can be hard to deal with the disappointment of missing out on the grades you need, but some day soon you’ll be able to get past it.  Missing the top marks doesn’t mean you’re a failure and doesn’t mean your out of the running career-wise.  Look for the silver linings as soon as you feel able to, and with a little courage and determination you’re still on track to a bright future.


Lizzie Exton writes for Inspiring Interns, which specializes in sourcing candidates for internships. To browse our graduate jobs London listings, visit our website.

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