How to tell if your exam didn't go well or if you're worrying over nothing

Short of turning in a blank paper or missing the exam all together, the line between success and failure can be small. But how do you tell if things really didn’t go well or if you’re just worrying for nothing?

How to tell if your exam didn't go well

We’ve picked out some of the common things students told us could go wrong (we've also thrown in some funny test answers, just to lighten the mood a bit).

If you're worried about how you did, use our tick boxes to see how many of the mistakes you made. We'll give you tailored advice based on your answers.

Six common exam mistakes.

1

Procrastination

The issue:

There is nothing worse than staring at an empty white page, desperately trying to write something. Actually, there is – the sound of every other student scribbling furiously while you stare at the clock.

Ask yourself:

If you’re worried you did manage your time wrong, try to objectively assess whether you missed the main points. Rushing an answer isn’t always a bad thing as it may have forced you to be more concise.

Did you make this mistake in your exam?

Yes

Exam Question
2

Waffling

The issue:

Sometimes it’s easy to panic and start spewing every bit of info you know about an answer, rather than focusing on a particular passage or point.

Ask yourself:

If you’re worried you spent too much time parroting, think carefully about what points you know were relevant, and make a list – you might be pleasantly surprised.

Did you make this mistake in your exam?

Yes

3

Skimming the question

The issue:

After several practice essays at home, you might feel fired up when you see a few similar key words in the real exam question. However, if you read it too quickly, you might be horrified to discover your answer wasn’t as great as you first thought.

Ask yourself:

Concerned you didn’t read it carefully? Take time to reflect on whether you indirectly referred to the question, and whether or not you’re fretting too much.

Did you make this mistake in your exam?

Yes

Exam Question
4

Focusing on word count

The issue:

If you write a lot then you’re bound to get a good mark, right? Wrong. Sometimes writing to excess can hide good points from the markers.

Ask yourself:

If you just kept writing try to mentally count how many times you wrote unnecessary adjectives – that’s words like good, new, first, last etc –  or repeated the same thing.

Did you make this mistake in your exam?

Yes

5

Carelessness

The issue:

Worried you actually wrote Romeo and Julie? Or stated the chemical symbol for water is HSBC? You may get away with this as long as you’ve made correct points.

Ask yourself:

If you made this kind of mistake repeatedly, the examiner may think you didn’t really know your stuff after all.

Did you make this mistake in your exam?

Yes

Exam Question
6

Repeating what you were told

The issue:

While it’s important to cover the key points your teachers told you, it’s vital you also showed you can think for yourself.

Ask yourself:

You may be in trouble if you’ve just copied a sample answer from the internet – exam markers have seen it all before.

Did you make this mistake in your exam?

Yes

You have made 0 mistakes

You have done very well!

You have made 1 mistake

If you’ve made one or two small mistakes it’s unlikely to drag down your overall mark, especially if you covered the main points. Putting these out of your mind can be easier said than done so if you’re still worried, we can help:

Step 1: Explore other options

If you fear your results could be lower than you hoped, there’s Clearing. Download our free Clearing guide and we’ll keep you updated about our courses.

Step 2: Put a line under exams

You can’t change what has already happened.

Our top advice helps you to figure out why you are worried to help you relax and enjoy your Summer. There's always other options too.

You have made 2 mistakes

If you’ve made one or two small mistakes it’s unlikely to drag down your overall mark, especially if you covered the main points. Putting these out of your mind can be easier said than done so if you’re still worried, we can help:

Step 1: Explore other options

If you fear your results could be lower than you hoped, there’s Clearing. Download our free Clearing guide and we’ll keep you updated about our courses.

Step 2: Put a line under exams

You can’t change what has already happened.

Our top advice helps you to figure out why you are worried to help you relax and enjoy your Summer. There's always other options too.

You have made 3 mistakes

Making quite a lot of these mistakes might mean your overall mark could drop. If you’ve been predicted high grades, it might be worth looking at other choices just in case the results aren’t what you hoped. You might want to consider:

Step 1: Explore other options

If you fear your results could be lower than you hoped, there’s Clearing. Download our free Clearing guide and we’ll keep you updated about our courses.

Step 2: Put a line under exams

You can’t change what has already happened.

Our top advice helps you to figure out why you are worried to help you relax and enjoy your Summer. There's always other options too.

You have made 4 mistakes

Making quite a lot of these mistakes might mean your overall mark could drop. If you’ve been predicted high grades, it might be worth looking at other choices just in case the results aren’t what you hoped. You might want to consider:

Step 1: Explore other options

If you fear your results could be lower than you hoped, there’s Clearing. Download our free Clearing guide and we’ll keep you updated about our courses.

Step 2: Put a line under exams

You can’t change what has already happened.

Our top advice helps you to figure out why you are worried to help you relax and enjoy your Summer. There's always other options too.

You have made 5 mistakes

It sounds like you had a rough time if you made all – or nearly all – of these mistakes. The best thing now is not to dwell on the past but to get ready for the future. Doing less well than expected doesn’t always mean missing out on university. You may want to try:

Step 1: Explore other options

If you fear your results could be lower than you hoped, there’s Clearing. Download our free Clearing guide and we’ll keep you updated about our courses.

Step 2: Put a line under exams

You can’t change what has already happened.

Our top advice helps you to figure out why you are worried to help you relax and enjoy your Summer. There's always other options too.

You have made 6 mistakes

It sounds like you had a rough time if you made all – or nearly all – of these mistakes. The best thing now is not to dwell on the past but to get ready for the future. Doing less well than expected doesn’t always mean missing out on university. You may want to try:

Step 1: Explore other options

If you fear your results could be lower than you hoped, there’s Clearing. Download our free Clearing guide and we’ll keep you updated about our courses.

Step 2: Put a line under exams

You can’t change what has already happened.

Our top advice helps you to figure out why you are worried to help you relax and enjoy your Summer. There's always other options too.

Early Clearing Advice

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Get your free guide to Clearing with helpful hints and tips on how you can prepare.

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