From Year 11-13, there was one night a year I could guarantee that I wouldn’t sleep: the night before results day. Most of my friends could put their anxiety aside and just accept that there was nothing they could do after they walked out of their final exam, throwing themselves into a stress-free summer. I could never do this, an irrational fear of results day constantly in the back of my mind. Looking back, I realise that if the grades printed inside a brown paper envelope are not what you were hoping for, the world does not stop turning. However, I remember the strange feeling of agitated relief after my final A Level exam and so was keen to write this post to help any readers in a similar situation.
The main point I want to make is whatever happens on results day, nothing is as bad as it seems. I was used to results day being a brilliant, tearful (in a good way) day. When I received my GCSE and AS results, I really felt proud of myself. My hard work had paid off and I had achieved grades that I really wasn’t expecting. A Level results day 2018 was a very different experience. I had struggled during my final year of school with my mental health and I was frustrated. I knew that I could have performed better in my exams if I had taken better care of myself and I was convinced that I had completely blown my chances of meeting my grades for Oxford. My confidence was at rock bottom.
I remember feeling lightheaded as I drove to school last August, my mouth dry as I picked up my envelope from the hall. Many of my friends, most of whom had unconditional offers, wandered in relatively unphased. Banners and balloons lined the hall, ‘congratulations’ printed everywhere. I left the hall and snuck into the technology department to be alone as I opened my results.
I needed AAA for Law, which seemed achievable when I received my offer in January. However, with everything that had occurred since, I was very unsure. I opened up my results and was gutted. I had received a B in English Language and, despite achieving A*s in other subjects, I was confident it wasn’t enough to be accepted into Oxford. I was so frustrated; it was as though everything I was worried about had happened. I felt stupid for thinking I could meet the offer.
I logged on to UCAS, hoping that University of Bristol (my insurance choice) had accepted me, and burst into tears. Oxford had confirmed my place. I even phoned the admissions department to make sure there wasn’t a mistake! A month later, I found out that actually, my paper had been marked badly and I had in fact met my offer. However, Oxford didn’t know this at the time.
Last results day, it was made clear to me that nothing is as black and white as it seems. In the 15 minutes between receiving my results and checking UCAS, my dad said to me “to get into Bristol is still absolutely amazing”. He was right. If Oxford had not accepted me, I would still be fine; I would be studying Law in Bristol. Plenty of my friends are not where they planned to be a year ago and are achieving amazing things; many are actually happy that things didn’t quite go to plan. So, in the build-up to results day, try to relax. Your hard work will pay off and even if you don’t take the path you planned, things really will work out.