However, once you accept the new, we can quickly realize all of this is white noise. A drowsy late summer wasp buzzing around distracting from the reality that for thousands of students these results are, up until this moment, the crowning glory of their academic life or a nasty gut punch after toiling for the last two years for what will feel like no good reason.
In amongst the hysterical headlines and pictures of twins with identical results or children jumping in the air beaming for the local rag, it’s important to remember that no matter what happens with your GCSEs, it is a steppingstone and nothing more. A sort of gateway exam as it were. Obviously there will be some despondent faces on the day and that’s to be expected, when you mark on a curve there are winners and losers. It is of course right and proper to be disappointed if you didn’t get what you felt you were capable of, it just shows you care. GCSE results feel like the biggest thing in the world right now, but that won’t always be the case and the further you get from them the easier it is to get perspective.
Your results on Thursday will necessarily impact the choices you make next, but, and it’s an important but – good or bad, nothing is permanent. As much as it feels like the most important thing in the world right now, as long as you’ve done well enough to keep your options open you’ll be just fine. Anecdotally my business partner is one of the smartest people I know, BA from Durham, MA from Warwick, PhD from Columbia, he had lousy GCSE results comparative to his ability and pretty unremarkable A levels if we’re getting into finger pointing. Equally, people I went to school with who performed astonishingly at GCSE level were middle of the pack come A level. As worried as you might be, you are only ever really judged on your highest level of accomplishment, so as long as you do well enough to not close down avenues, things will work out just fine if you apply yourself and move forward in a positive fashion. Plan A may no longer be immediately accessible but with some tweaks I assure you it is easy enough to get back on track if you commit to a course of action and communicate that to your school or college.
If you wildly overachieve it may open up new and glorious vistas, A Levels that were perhaps beyond your reach now hove into view as being possibilities. Equally if things don’t go as planned you can always do resits alongside A levels, T Levels or BTECs etc, you may need to slightly adjust certain plans to accommodate your new circumstances but under no circumstances should you feel like a failure nor should you be too smug.
So no matter whether you’re the big winner or the wooden spooner come Thursday morning try and hold on to the fact that it is, comprehensively, not the end of the road, just a bump in it. It all shakes out in the wash and if you know where you want to be, I guarantee if you apply yourself then Thursday is just another day.
Edd Williams is the bestselling author of Is Your School Lying to You? He is an academic consultant, parent and governor with over 20 years of experience in helping people access the career of their choice. His new book, Now What? Education, Career and Life choices: How to plan, adapt and embrace your inner entrepreneur in the post-covid world, is due to be published in October 2022.