Let’s be real: the night before results day can suck. If you’re waiting for GCSE or A level results, you might be feeling worried, anxious, panicky, or afraid.
We’ve put together five practical things you can try to make things easier on the night before results day. Different things help different people, so try to approach things with an open mind and stay curious about what might work for you.
Recognise what you’ve achieved
Stick with us on this one – it’s less cheesy than it seems.
Right now, it might feel hard to shift your focus away from tomorrow and your grades. But don’t forget that your academic achievements only represent a tiny part of what makes you you.
Whatever happens tomorrow, you’ve already made it through a whole exam season! You’ve tried your best and, at the same time, shown how resilient and brave you are. There’s plenty to celebrate, from recognising how much it took to turn up to each exam (despite how you felt) to times you asked for support.
And exam results aren’t the most interesting or most important thing about you. How would the people who are close to you describe you? What talents, passions, and qualities do you have (and will continue to have, whatever your results are)?
Plan what you can
For some people, one of the reasons the night before results day is so hard is that they feel like they’re not in control. There’s nothing you can do to change your results, which can cause a lot of anxiety. But there are still things you can plan.
Will you collect your results in person? When would you like to go, and who would you like to have around you? If you’re waiting for A level results and think you might use clearing, then reading a guide to clearing might help you feel prepared (just don’t spend all night re-reading the same information lots of times).
Results day can bring some big emotions, so you might want to plan how you’ll manage if things feel overwhelming. You could put together a self-soothe box, or get familiar with some of the support available through the internet and phone, for example.
You might even want to plan how you’ll spend the rest of the night before results day. Would you prefer to distract yourself with a game or a book, or watch a comforting TV show? Would it help to read some sleep tips?
Have other conversations
Sometimes talking to people in the same position can be really helpful – but try to make sure you’re not making each other feel worse.
It can be easy to get dragged into panicked messaging or scrolling through endless hashtags. You’re not alone in feeling anxious on the night before results day – but you don’t need to continue making yourself feel more unsettled by having the same conversation over and over again!
It can also be tempting to compare your expectations and performance to others, but this doesn’t help anyone either.
Could you change the topic to a more helpful conversation? Maybe you could talk about how much you’ve already achieved or the things you love about your friends. Do you have goals and aspirations that aren’t affected by your exam results? What else would you like to do this summer?
Challenge unhelpful thoughts
We all have difficult thoughts sometimes. Some people find it helpful to learn a bit more about different ways of thinking that can make us feel more anxious or distressed.
For example, ‘fortune telling’ describes when you expect a situation (like getting your results) will turn out badly when you don’t have evidence for the expectation. ‘Disqualifying the positive’ describes when you only recognise the negative parts of a situation (like an exam question you found tricky) while ignoring the positives (like the questions you answered in the exam). ‘Catastrophising’ describes imagining the worst possible outcomes – like being disappointed with every grade and not having any options for what to do next!
If you’re able to notice when your thinking follows these patterns, you might be able to identify another perspective. For example, results day might be OK! And exams aren’t the most important thing in the world – even if things don’t go as well as you’d hoped, you’ll have support to figure out what to do next.
This idea comes from a type of therapy called cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). The Best For You app library has apps based on CBT principles that might be helpful in noticing tricky thoughts and finding another perspective. You might want to check out apps like MindShift CBT (on iOS and Android) and Wysa (on iOS and Android).
Use the support that’s there
Our final tip is to remember the amount of support out there. However you’re feeling on the night before results day (and on the day itself), you don’t have to manage it on your own.
You can always text NATTER to 85258 to text with a trained volunteer. You can text the service about anything, and it’s free, confidential, and anonymous. If you’re feeling anxious or panicky, the people behind NATTER can message with you and help you feel calmer. Find out more about NATTER with our NATTER FAQs.
Kooth is another online offer that’s available throughout London and in some other parts of the UK. It’s a free, online wellbeing community for young people, with helpful content, journaling space, and discussion boards. Find out more about Kooth.
The Get help now page has plenty of other ways you can get support at any time of day or night. You can also find apps on the Best For You app library, like 7 Cups, which connects you anonymously to trained active listeners (find 7 Cups on iOS or on Android)