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What do ‘Good Grades’ Really Mean?

Updated: Nov 6, 2023

Receiving Exam Results

The long summers of freedom are, for some students, tainted by the apprehensive wait for exam results. We’re taught from a young age that these are crucial to our future success – which to some extent is true. And it is wonderful to celebrate students’ achievements when they reach the grades they were aiming for, that reflect all the hard work they did; it’s enormously gratifying. Sometimes, however, things don’t go according to plan and grades disappoint. This can be frustrating and demoralising for students and leave them uncertain of their future.

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What To Do Next

The key to dealing with unexpected results is perspective, which we can gain by asking ourselves the following questions:

  • Do I have the grades I actually need to proceed on my chosen pathway?

  • Will I have the chance to re-sit an exam, for example, alongside other college courses?

  • Are there other options available, such as alternative courses or opportunities?

It's definitely worth taking a break from thinking about it, doing something you enjoy and taking some time to consider different options. It can also be helpful to discuss these with family, friends or trusted adults, such as teachers, carers or mentors. Keep in mind that what we are doing now is part of our long term goals, so it pays to be patient and visualise the future positively.

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Self-Worth and 'Soft Skills'

Another important thing to remember is that grades don’t reflect your worth as a person. Certainly, we need them for further study, job applications, CVs. But more important still are the qualities that will help you beyond academic and professional accolades. These include so-called ‘soft skills’ such as:

  • Resilience. Abilities in reasoning and problem solving

  • Emotional intelligence. The capacity for empathy and positive interpersonal communication

  • Discipline. Work ethic, self-management, timekeeping and organisation

With a strong foundation of these crucial life skills, students will be able to thrive regardless of, and not because of, good exam results.

Take the Credit

Finally, exams are hard! They can be stressful, and many students will feel a lot of pressure. So, anyone who has gone through this process deserves a pat on the back. Practice saying it to yourself: ‘Well done me!’

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