Supporting young people with exam results day

15 August 2023

As we get closer towards the end of August, many young people will be feeling stressed as they await their exam results. They may be feeling a lot of pressure to meet expectations – be it their own, their family’s or their schools – and knowing the impact the results can have on their future plans. 

The Six Principles of Nurture give us a greater understanding of how best to support our young people when they feel stressed or anxious. For example, exam result days feature in several major life transitions for young people; from GCSEs to further education, further education to higher education or employment, or university results day. 

It’s vital for parents, carers and families to understand that all behaviour is communication and that providing a safe base for young people is key. Your young person may not be able to communicate the stress or anxiety they’re feeling prior to receiving their exam results, so may be withdrawn or isolated, or display challenging behaviour. By providing a safe base, your young person has the opportunity to understand and manage their emotions. 

Here’s some of our top tips on how to support your young person in the run up to results day:

    • Listen: Your young person may be experiencing a range of emotions as results day approaches. Providing time and space for them to talk is important, whilst acknowledging their hopes or worries, and any pressure they may be feeling.
    • Celebrate the effort: Before results day arrives, celebrate how hard they have been working through exam season! Let them know you’re proud of how hard they worked, no matter their results. 
    • Make flexible plans for the day: Your young person may want to be distracted on the day, depending on their results. Ask them in advance if they have any ideas, or you could suggest a trip out, a walk, dinner out or a takeaway, a movie night, or spending time with friends. Each young person will handle their stress differently so be prepared for plans to change!
    • On the day: Be on hand if possible to support them in whatever way they need. And remember that your words matter, so respond to their results carefully and conscientiously. 
    • Next steps: If your young person is disappointed in their results, they may not want to talk through the next steps on the day, so give them the time and space they need to process. Do some research or talk to the school to understand what options are available – whether it’s retakes, remarking or alternative courses – so that when they’re ready, you can support them to find the next best steps for them. 

Remember: grades aren’t everything. Make sure your child feels celebrated and supported regardless of their results! For more information, please see the additional support linked below. 

Support for young people:

Support for parents: