GCSE results: 'One missed grade ruined my whole mood'

A clutch of apparently good grades can leave a student feeling devastated, writes 17-year-old Olamide Taiwo

GCSE results day: One student recalls how a lower-than-expected maths grade ruined results day for her last year

Results day. I honestly felt quite sick to my stomach, for the reasons of not wanting to do badly, wanting to please my parents and wanting to be able to take my chosen A levels

I remember vividly standing on the steps, looking at my results, skimming the grades, which made me so happy: I got grades 8-6s and one B. 

Then I started to link those grades to the subjects. And that’s when I felt gutted, as I did not achieve the grade that I wanted in maths.

GCSE results day agony

Thinking back, it is quite amazing how one expectation that was not met ruined my whole mood. I got so sad, because that meant I couldn’t take maths as an A level. 

I found out later that I was seven marks off a grade 7. I didn’t want to be around anyone until I came to terms with it. 

We don’t necessarily think about the chances that those who normally do well may not do as well as they wanted. Their result may be good, but it won’t seem that way against better grades.

Overall, I did quite well in my GCSEs, but there was maths, which I wasn’t happy with. Everyone (note my exaggeration, because that’s how it felt) kept telling me that my grade was still good, and that I should be happy with the result I had, because it was equivalent to a B. 

I understood this. However, a B-equivalent was not what I wanted or expected. 

Out of all my exams, I worked extremely hard when it came to maths. So I knew within myself that I could have got the 7 that I wanted so badly. Telling someone that what they got is still a good grade may help certain people but students who are stubborn and determined, like me, will not settle for that “good grade”. A year later, I am still upset about that 6 not being a 7. But I have come to terms with it, truly, even if it may seem like I have not. 

The risk to students' self-esteem

The thing that people should realise is that, on results day, reality tends to catch up with nearly every student. There are some who did really try, but still received no-so-great results. Those are the students who I believe teachers should be there for, especially as it could really discourage them and lower their self-esteem. 

As a sociology student, I study education, and it is proven that teachers tend to pay attention to the “ideal pupils” more than the rest. Results day is a place where that can’t happen. No matter the grades of any student, positive vibes should spread throughout the room. 

My school had balloons around the room, and gave the atmosphere more than a sprinkle of celebration. Try to make the atmosphere uplifting by making it a celebration more than a daunting day. GCSE candidates are done with secondary school, and are on their longest holiday until Year 13, which is worth celebrating, regardless of their grades.

Olamide Taiwo is an A-level student at Ark Globe Academy, in South London

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