Exam results worse than expected? Don't despair: Worse-than-expected examination results might feel like the end of the world, but they could be the start of something really great. Even a small shift in attitude can make all the difference to your future prospects. So if you are feeling disappointed by your results, the following tips could help get you back on track.
Keep your perspective
Understanding that the grade you have been awarded is part of a process called assessment, and is subject to a rigorous process of checking and double checking by qualified examiners and examination administrators, can help you regain your perspective. You might feel angry about a certain grade, you might feel it does not accurately reflect your ability, you might even feel your dreams have been shattered. The first thing to remember is that the accurate grading of exam papers forms the cornerstone of any reputable examination board. It's important they get it right, and get it right every time. If you're still not convinced, log on to your exam board's website which should contain information on examination marking procedures.
Do some soul searching
Be honest with yourself. Was there anything in the lead-up to the examination that could have contributed towards your disappointing grade? Not enough revision? Too much socialising? Family troubles? Pinpointing a reason for not doing as well as you would have liked won't change your grade, but it will give you a chance to focus with a fresh perspective on how to concentrate your energies on doing better in the future. Don't underestimate the importance of spending time answering those hard questions. Understanding yourself, what makes you tick, what motivates you, and what are barriers to your success are fundamentally important life skills that will serve you well now and in the future.
Broaden your horizons
Perhaps the subjects you studied weren't quite right for you. You may be able to find alternatives that are more suitable. For A Level students who have finished school, consider studying abroad or in another part of the country. There is no one rule on what grades international universities accept. Each university has different admissions criteria. Do some research and find out if another university will accept your lower grades. Looking long-term, studying overseas makes you highly employable as you will learn valuable life skills from your time spent in an international forum. Find a degree course that inspires and motivates you and gives you an opportunity to shine. You'll be spending the next three to four years of your life studying the subject, so find something you will stick at.
India has a world of career opportunities within its borders, and has nurtured millions of highly successful entrepreneurs, scientists, artists, linguists, IT experts and academics, across every industry and in every part of the country. Missing out on getting on that engineering or medical degree course might be a blessing in disguise. You might be the next Narayana Murthy or Lata Mangeshkar and change the course of history. Think big about your future, and try not to get locked into a certain career path just because it's always been expected of you.
Take a deep breath
Don't let disappointing grades put you off education altogether. Most students find that subjects get more interesting the further you go with them. If you have finished school, consider taking a year off to nurture another side of you, and applying to university the following year. A year can make all the difference, during which time you could find a temporary job that broadens your horizons or take a short course in something that really interests you.
Maths students could take a graphic design course. Language students could take a computer programming course. Academic results are only part of a much larger picture of success. Universities and employers are always impressed by those who show initiative, perseverance, lateral thinking, creativity and a willingness to learn. Not doing brilliantly at school is no marker for future success, if historic figures such as Albert Einstein and Winston Churchill - who didn't do well at school - are anything to go by.
The author is Region Manager, University of Cambridge, International Examinations (CIE)