Overcoming Exam Disappointment


by Lucy Joss

23rd August 2018

I don't know about you but the #nowrongpath campaign really struck a chord with me as I read the personal stories that flooded social media, reaffirming that there really is no wrong path to a fulfilling working life. They reminded me of my own exam disappointment 3 years earlier when I didn't get the grades to study PR at university - something I had my heart set on.

Determined to follow the route I had tunnel vision on, I headed to college to study PR with the intention of doing a 2 + 2 course and entering university at third year. But while at college my eyes started opening to other opportunities and before I knew it I had pushed university back another year, took a gap year and booked a flight to Australia, travelling solo to see a bit more of the world, which, by the way, I consider to be the best decisions I've ever made.

Not getting into university can seem like the end of the world, but it could just be opening up a detour route to your final destination! So, having been in the shoes of everyone who felt exam related disappointment over the past few weeks I thought I'd share the hacks I wish someone had shared with me in the early days of my devastation!

Lucy Joss, Administration Assistant

  1. Resit your exams. Just because you didn't get what you needed this time around doesn't mean you won't be able to get the grade you need next time. Your Guidance Teacher should be able to provide advice on whether or not you can do these in school. An alternative option is to re-sit them in college, or night classes.
  2. Follow a 2 + 2 course. On certain courses you can enter third year of university after going to college for 2 years. You will leave university with exactly the same degree as if you'd gone there when you originally wanted. I ended up loving college and was actually glad I ended up going here.
  3. Take a gap year. After my 2 years in college, university started to become less appealing to me. I pushed my place into third year back a year further and booked a 1 way flight to Australia, giving me 4 of the best months of my life. Turned out I really needed that time to become more independent, build confidence in my own decision making and become brave enough to make lifelong friends from complete strangers – all valuable life skills and something I never thought I'd be able to do.
  4. Start your career through another route. This was one of the strongest themes that came across in the #nowrongpath posts and reinforced the importance of just gaining experience in the workplace and learning what you like and don't like doing. So many people started out doing one type of job only to end up doing something completely different. It might be a cliché but it is true – we really are on a work journey and while it is great to have a final destination in mind you can discover so much along a detour.
  5. Seeking advice from experts. Skills Development Scotland offers fantastic career support, they even had an Exam Results Support Line offering advice in the days and weeks after "Results Day", and of course, there is Developing The Young Workforce too.
  6. Enter the world of work! A popular way to do this is via a modern apprenticeships or traineeship where you can gain your qualification, develop skills and get valuable experience under your belt. 92% of people who go into apprenticeships say they felt like it had a positive impact on their career*. Alternatively, I successfully applied for an entry level position and plan to gain as much experience as I can while in this role.

If you'd asked me where I thought I'd be now when I left school I'd have told you that I'd be in my last year of university, working towards completing my degree. But here I am, earning a salary, 6 months into working full-time in a job and company that I LOVE after travelling to the other side of the world by myself.


* sourced from Education & Skills Funding Agency.

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