You have written your exams and now the wait for results begins. As a lecturer, every year, I witness this nervous wait. It is not an easy time.
This wait can last for weeks (most University exams) or months in the case of the Board Exams that my accounting students write. Did you know that there is a way to wait that can help with the inevitable nerves? Here are two guiding principles and then some advice:
1. There is nothing you can do about your results now. You can not exert any influence on the markers. Realise that time spent daydreaming about the results is not being productively used.
2. There is something you can do about how you wait for the results. There is actually quite a bit you can do during this time. A few simple steps can really help you relax and maximise waiting time.
Here are the few simple steps I recommend:
- Decide on a goal for the “waiting time”. I think the best goal is that by the time the results arrive, you have a game plan for all the possible outcomes and that you are feeling rested.
- Create a game plan. Open up a word document or grab a pen with some paper. Draw some columns – Pass, Supp, Fail – these are usually the 3 possible outcomes. Now collect all the “next steps” you would take for each of these outcomes.
- Pass – write down all the things you want to do when you find out that you have passed. Who will you call? (Mama better be on that list!) Who will you celebrate with? What will your social media update approach be? This is usually a fun column to complete!
- Supp – write down things that you would do differently now that you have had the experience of writing this paper. Your performance on the day was not good enough, but that does not mean that you are not good enough. What mistakes did you make that you don’t want to repeat? Looking back, what do you want to do differently in the supp? What next steps will you take? These steps should include reviewing your script, getting all the supp details, contacting a friend who did well in the subject and asking them for help and many other steps. Now is your time to plan well. When you receive the news that you have a supp, you will feel disappointment, which often means that you are not thinking proactively and positively. Now is the time to write to your future self messages like “The next time you write is your best chance to pass!”, “You are only one exam away from the end of this course!” or “This sucks. I do not want to feel like this again. Let’s word hard, work smart and finish this!”.
- Fail – this is the hardest column to bring yourself to complete but it is best to consider next steps now before the emotions hit. Who will you speak to? How will you decide if you want to repeat the year or not? Which student adviser would be best to contact? I suggest planning to give yourself some time to grieve – this is not an experience that is easy to accept – but after that you need to keep moving and exploring your options. It is not the end of the road – it is often in these moments that our greatest memories and decisions are made. I have often written about the importance of failure – maybe read this to find out more.
- Save the game plan somewhere safe. Put it away. If you find your mind drifting towards thinking about the results, remind yourself that you have developed a game plan and that you are prepared. If you wake up with more ideas for your possible responses, get the game plan out and add those ideas. Now put the plan away again until another brainwave hits.
- Use the mental space to relax or get on with life. If you are required to write a supp soon after the results are released (like with PGDA), it is important that you use this waiting time to relax and rest. If you are required to study again for a supp, then you will be in the best physical and mental shape to do so. If you have a longer wait for results (like the ITC and APC), you need to get on with life! It is crazy to live 100 days of your one and only life under the dark cloud of results that you can do nothing about now! You have people to meet, places to go, a life to live!
- Remind yourself that nerves are a great sign. It shows that you really care about the outcome. It shows that you are doing something you really care about. It would be a bad sign if you didn’t get nervous! When the opportunity cost is high, you are living a good life.
Don’t get me wrong, following this advice will NOT mean that the agonising wait for results will be unicorns and rainbows! But it will be less painful and much more productive.
It will mean that you have placed your best thinking down into a game plan and have freed up mental space for living! Do it and all the best with those results!