How to tell your parents you didn’t get the exam results you wanted

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You tried your best, you really did – but ultimately you didn’t get the desired exam results. Your parents are on your case wanting to know what grades you got and which university you'll be going to this September. But at this point, you don’t even know yourself. To soften the blow when you break the news, preparation is key. Take some time to figure out your options and follow these five steps.

1. Calm yourself down

First things firsts, take a breather. Rarely are the right decisions made under pressure, and you want to make the next decision based on what you truly want regardless of others' opinions. Don’t get too worked up before showing your parents your results. Anxiety and nervousness will cause you to overthink the situation. Remember, this will one day be unimportant and a distant memory. And in fact, many people have gone on to different and much better paths after perceived ‘failures’.

If you have to take some time away before telling your parents, do that - and confide in a good friend or teacher. But remember, the sooner you explain what has happened, the sooner it'll be over, and you can start looking towards a better outcome and importantly calling those Clearing hotlines.

2.  Come prepared with back up plans: Plan A, Plan B, Plan C.. Plan (you get the gist)

If your goal is to still get into university, it’s time to start making a plan. Gather friends and teachers to call around each university that offers a course you like, there are a lot of good universities and courses out there so make sure you have a thorough look so you’re on the right track. Search tools including UCAS course search and the Telegraph University Course Finder are particularly helpful. Think around your interests and a course with lower grade boundaries should materialise, its also wise to consider different-but-similar courses. If you approach it knowing what you’re looking for and the experience becomes much simpler and much less daunting

3. Explain how you plan to make a change

Ok so it’s time to tell the rents. Deep breaths. Lay out the plan you've made, and tell them how, although you may have not good your first choice, there are still options. Clearing is your best bet right now. Remember that your parents may not even know what Clearing is so be precise when explaining to them so they can help you. Remind your parents how hard you worked and will continue to work whether it’s re-sitting some exams or you’re lucky enough to have found a great new course through Clearing.

4. Put the problem into perspective

Even if you have the best laid out plan, your parents and you still may seem disappointed so it’s important to put things into perspective. You may typically be a good student - remind your parents of this – remind them of all of the hours you spent revising. This may keep them from overreacting if they remember how hard you have worked the last two years. If you haven’t worked as hard as you should have, tell them that this has been a learning curve for you and you will not repeat the same mistakes at University.

5. Acceptance

Now you have broken the news, and hopefully got a good plan in place, you and your parents need to accept that your life plans have changed. The longer you dwell on the negative the less likely you are to look at your new situation in a positive light. Use this as a key learning experience. You experienced failure and in the long run you’ll be better for it. Who knows, the path you are now taking may be much, much better than the one you initially thought you wanted.

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Looking for an undergraduate course to start this September? We have places available in a range of subjects.

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Call Clearing hotline

Clearing. Let's talk about you.

Looking for an undergraduate course to start this September? We have places available in a range of subjects.

Find your course

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