Helping young people when they get exam results

Exam results time can be stressful for children and their parents. Before your child receives their exam results, you should take time to ask them about the results they're expecting. It's important they know you'll support and help them whatever their results.

Waiting for exam results

In the weeks before your child gets their exam results, you'll want to support them as they wait. You might be worried about:

  • them getting or not getting a place in the university or college they want
  • paying towards your child's education
  • your child leaving home
  • choosing the right accommodation for your child
  • how to support your child if they're disappointed by their results

This is a big life change in a family. Some preparation can help things move more smoothly.

When your child's disappointed by their exam results

If your child doesn't get the results they wanted, reassure them that they still have options but they might need a different route to the career they want. It's important that your child doesn't panic.

Encourage them to take their time about making decisions. They don't need to rush into deciding what to do next.

UCAS clearing system

If your child did A-Levels and applied for a university place, find out how to use the clearing system for UCAS. You'll know what to do if they don't get the results they need for their original university choices.

Further education colleges

If your child wants to go to a further education college, make sure you know who to contact for advice in case their grades aren't what were expected.

It's also worth contacting the university or college as it may still be possible to get a place with a lower grade.  

Going back to school

You may need to guide them firmly to go back to education and repeat their studies.

But you should be careful because young people sometimes might have a better idea than their parents as to what is good for them. Don't push them unless it is clear you're guiding them towards something they want to do.

Supporting your child

Listed below is some advice on supporting your child whatever exam results they achieve or educational and work path they choose:

  • you and your child need to communicate- this means both talking and listening to each other and it might help to get someone else such as a teacher, relative or family friend to help
  • put things into perspective - failing an exam isn’t the end of the world and everyone loses out at some time or other
  • your child can re-sit their exams using what they have learned this time round to do better or decide to go a different route next time - what is important is for you to look for positive ways forward and to consider all the options available and 100 per-cent supportive of them
  • whatever front they put on, your child probably cares deeply about their results and about your attitude towards them - encourage them to talk and reassure them that you are behind them and will support them whatever the results
  • separate what you might have wished for yourself at their age from what they wish for themselves now - support them in their dreams rather than pressurising them to do it for you

What your child does after exam results

Whatever the outcome, your child can get help and support. It’s a good idea to take time to explore their different options to make sure your child makes the best decision. 

You may also want to talk to a professionally qualified careers adviser who can give impartial information, advice and guidance on what choices are available.

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