Coventry psychologist gives students top tips for dealing with stress around exam results day

This year's A level, BTEC or T level exams will return to pre-pandemic grading methods. Credit: ITV News Central

A psychologist from Coventry University has given her top tips for remaining calm and handling stress and anxiety as students receive their exam results.

Students who sat their A-level, BTEC or T-level exams earlier this year receive their results today in the first set of testing which has returned to pre-pandemic grading.

Psychology lecturer and admissions tutor Dr Rachael Molitor says students should know how to manage their pre-result stress and nerves.

She encourages students to do something they enjoy, like a hobby, and take time out to think about what activities students finishing school can look forward to, such as spending more time with friends, in the days leading up to results day.

When results day comes around, she says students should embrace their emotions and celebrate no matter what the sheet of paper says.

Speaking to ITV News Central she said: "When it comes to getting your results, it's totally understandable to feel stressed as you've worked very hard for your results, whatever you're working towards whether that be A-levels or BTEC.

"It is important to look at the result but the results of your exams are not the end of the world as there is so much more in our lives that we can focus on and enjoy.

"It's really important to note that you have tried your best when it comes to your exams and whatever happens with your results going forward, you can manage your feelings with the help of other people.

"It's important to take a step back and reflect on how you're feeling both before and after receiving your results."

5 tips to handle pre-result nerves and keep calm:

  • Challenge negative thoughts by doing something enjoyable like a hobby and distract your mind from what might be.

  • Speak to someone, whether that be friends, family or a university, about what you're thinking - "a problem shared really is a problem halved," says Dr Molitor.

  • Take time to be by yourself to think about the future and what's out of your control. Dr Molitor says time alone is important to reflect on what's happened and what's out of your control. She says parents should give their children space to grow but regularly check in with them and be ready for when they want to talk about any concerns.

  • Dr Molitor also says it can be helpful to look ahead to your future. Reading up on and exploring the area you're interested in can help students realise potential opportunities and might bring calmness in confirming future desires.

  • Keeping a positive mindset is important during results season to recognise the challenges overcome and not frown upon results you don't yet know.

What to do if you don't get the results you were hoping for?

End-of-school exams hold a lot of weight for students relying on certain grades to get into university or higher education.

Dr Molitor says even if you don't get the exact results you need there are still options and said it is important to consider all possible routes.

She said her A-level results weren't what she had hoped for and she felt disappointed, not only in herself but like she had let down her parents.

After receiving her results, Dr Molitor took a gap year to take a look at her options and decide her career path.

"If students haven't got the results they're hoping for this year-round, they've got so many options out there," she says.

  • Dr Molitor said clearing is a key path to consider if you do not get the result you had been hoping for

She said: "Clearing is coming up now, how I got the results you're looking for, then actually even look at other universities around the area.

"There may be the chance that a university you wanted to go to or you didn't quite apply to when you went to UCAS the first time around, may be available with clearing options.

"You can also change your career pathway totally by going through clearing speaking to the guys on the phone."

Dr Molitor is an admissions tutor for Coventry University and says it's a chance for students to consider alternative careers with interests they have.

"If you don't want to go to university that is also absolutely fine," Dr Molitor added.

"There are so many options out there being taken a year out being able to earn some money or go and travel the world or find something else he wants to do be in a vocational capacity and then really try and work for something you enjoy.

"If you enjoy your job and your career, then you're going to enjoy the most amazing times of your life going forwards," she says.

Dr Molitor's 5 tips for handling disappointment

1. Reflect on your feelings - Dr Molitor says it's important to take some time to think about how you're feeling and evaluate the situation to see what factors were in and out of your control.

2. Communicate your emotions - Discussing concerns with someone else can help youbetter understand your thoughts and emotions, whether happy or sad says Dr Molitor.

3. Check your expectations - Re-evaluate your expectations and differentiate between what you hoped for and what you expected, suggests Dr Molitor.

4. Redirect your mindset - If students didn't get the results they had hoped for it's important to shift focus toward addressing and adapting a future to it.

5. Plan for the next steps - Look at how your future has changed and see what options are still available to you. Dr Molitor recommends creating short-term and long-term goals to help shift your attention away from disappointment and toward the next opportunity.

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know...