Sometimes it can be very difficult to predict the outcome of your exams, whether you be in secondary school or even university. This is probably because, exams are arguably one of the most feared things in education for students. Whether a student is confident in their abilities in their chosen subject(s) or not, exams can often both predictably and unpredictably bring out the best, and more than often, the worst, in a student.
If the worst does happen, failing your exams can be one of the most devastating experiences for a student, especially when they were not expecting to fail their exams.
One way to cope with exam failure, is to talk to people. Talk to your family, talk to your friends, discuss the options you can take now that you’ve had your exam results back. One thing you must remember, is that failing your exams is not the end of the world. Exam failure is one of the many hurdles you’ll have to surpass in your life, and there are always possibilities to learn and rise above failure. After all, I’m sure most of you have heard the saying ‘failure makes you stronger’. Funnily enough, it really does. It gives you an understanding of what it means to fail, to lose, to receive a negative outcome that you may not have expected to get.
A common worry amongst students who have failed some of their exams, is that they’ll now never be able to get the job they wanted after graduating, or even the university degree they were first opting for. Wrong. You should never let exam failure force you into believing that you now can’t achieve any of your dreams. Sure, some things will be harder to reach, but that doesn’t make them unreachable. Failing exams doesn’t make you any less of a person, any less intelligent, or any less able to achieve what you want to, than those who may have gotten better results in their exams than you.
Personally, I found coping with failing my exams very hard. This was mostly because, I’d never failed an exam in my life, I was a straight A/A* student. The lowest grade I’d ever tasted was the one B I’d got in my GCSEs. Unfortunately, my parents and I made the wrong decision in enrolling me in the International Baccalaureate programme in my school, where teachers were incapable of teaching the IB to us properly, and despite being the brightest/highest achievers in the entire school, we all failed (or, at least got very low marks, still passing the IB, but not getting our first choice of university, if any.).
I’d never experienced failure before, and on top of knowing that if I had chosen to do A levels, I would have achieved at least straight As, my IB exam results had made it so that I didn’t get into any of the universities of my choice, even though I knew I was more than worthy/capable of attending them. Not only that, but the fact that my parents and friends also expected me to get high marks, made it feel as if I had not only failed myself, but my family and friends, when I failed. It felt horrible, like everything I had known, and my chosen path through my future, had all crumbled before me, leaving me feeling helpless and isolated. Admittedly, I spent two weeks crying non-stop in my bedroom.
Once I’d gotten myself together, I sent hundreds of emails out to various universities, including my first choice (LSE) and insurance choice (Edinburgh), explaining to them what had happened. Unfortunately, LSE came to the decision that my grades were two low compared to their asking grade, and rejected me (they were actually very understanding about what happened though, unfortunately it was their policy to decline students who’d gotten 4 grades or more under their asking grade). Edinburgh also declined me.
What upset me the most was that I’d already gotten the halls of my choice at LSE, and they even had the ‘cheek’ to send me an email telling me so, even after they had rejected me. I’d never felt so upset in my life. Everyone and everything felt mocking, nasty, and against me. The worst thing was, I KNEW that if I’d have chosen to do A Levels, I would’ve gotten at least A A A, and would’ve gotten into LSE easily. I was constrained, and constricted by my low IB grades.
How did I combat my failure? I worked hard to get other universities to recognise my potential, without judging me through just my IB grades. I sent emails and called up every university I could think of who had courses on offer that interested me. I bombarded them with samples of my written work, art work, work experience, letters from my teachers, everything. And due to my persistence, my hard work paid off. I had many universities responding to me, asking me to enrol.
I even gained the interest of Durham University. I eventually found a course that interested me, and a university I thought I would thrive in; Goldsmiths. I went from failing my exams and believing I would never get a university place, to being accepted into a university (out of many who offered), meeting wonderful people, having an awesome freshers week, and generally enjoying university life.
The most important thing to remember in such a situation is to remain true to yourself; remember who you are, what your strengths are, what you are capable of doing, and what you want to do, and you will get there.