How to re-group and reposition after poor exam results.
What are the practical options?
Disappointing exam results can be devastating, but it shouldn’t be the end of the world. The important thing is not to fall into despair, but take the opportunity to assess the results, regroup, and plan for the future.
For students who were expected to do well, we need to explore the reasons for their poor results. Exam technique? Where they overwhelmed on the day? Recent changes in the UK curriculum emphasise the actual exam, as coursework is a thing of the past.There is now more pressure than ever on students for just a few hours in an exam hall, after two (and increasingly three) years of preparation. That’s quite a pressure point, and for some students – it can cause them to crumble.
In this climate, perhaps the best approach is to talk through the students’ experiences,and plan for re-sits. Could exam technique training help? Can we help with strategies for overcoming stress and panic during the exam? Once there is a plan, there is hope. And with hope, a student can more easily recover and begin again with the confidence that the have the tools and the ability to do well.
With our present school setup, students are organised in horizontal year groups and put into ability sets. There’s no inherent weakness with this system, as long as there is a dynamism that allows for movement between sets – up or down, dependent on an individual student’s progress. From the perspective of a school’s day-to-day administration, moving students from set to set is a nightmare. At Apricot, we have the ability to implement this flow because we are small and more nimble. In fact, we identify this as our key role – creating a flexible and personalised education for each student.
For those students who did poorly and have struggled throughout the years leading up to exams, then parents and teachers need to consider where the student’s talents really lie and are a sign that they’re on the wrong path. For these students, the disappointment of results can become a happy opportunity for a fresh start. Can they be moved to a new environment, school, or college away from any negative influence of peers and towards courses for which they have an interest?
A change of course
Finally, there are some students for whom formal education is just not suitable. A discussion with a career advisor can open up alternative routes to a successful career and life doing something for which they have a real affinity and talent. In the UK we have an alternative network of training schemes that offer recognised qualifications and that can lead to university degree courses. It’s key that learners understand the importance of qualifications and that there are other opportunities to achieve them.
Poor exam results shouldn’t be devastating and it’s vitally important that a student shouldn’t despair; but, instead, look upon the results as a simple indication that some adjustment is needed in their lives and that this is a great opportunity to reconsider their priorities and find an appropriate route into adulthood that’s the right fit.