How to Help your Teen Through Exam Result Uncertainty

It is less than easy for teens at the moment. All their lives they have been told that their exam results at GCSE and A-level will determine their future and now they are not sitting these exams at all but are relying on their teachers to award them the grades they think that they deserve. Your teen may be feeling uncertain.

The goal posts have moved. Instead of preparing for a specific exam period in which everybody in their year will sit the same exam on the same day, many are now being assessed on a daily basis for 10 -14 different subjects.

The assessments they are doing may be different to their friends at other schools. They may even be different from their friends in other classes.

They may be feeling:

  • Overwhelmed and exhausted by the amount of assessments they are having
  • Anxious about their future plans
  • Cheated that they are not having the same experience as their older siblings
  • Frustrated that they are not receiving the grades that they think they would have been capable of in an exam situation

How can we help our teens navigate through this uncertainty?

Make sure that they know their exam results do not define them

This is super important. After a lifetime of being told how important exams are for their future, it is understandable that many teens will be feeling the pressure to “succeed” in these exams and might be feeling a sense of hopelessness. It may feel huge to them.

Encourage them to reduce the emphasis they are placing on the exams by reminding them of who they really are and all the amazing skills that they have to offer the world.

Focus on their wider skills – communication skills, technical or computer skills, analytical or problem-solving skills, for example. They could even do an audit of their skills here Skills assessment | National Careers Service to boost their confidence and enable them to start telling others what they are good at, regardless of their exam results.

Remind them that they have options

Exams are not a once in a lifetime opportunity. Their teachers will know their students well and it is highly likely that your teen will be awarded the grades that they feel they deserve. If not, however, there will be further opportunities to retake the exam if they choose to do so.

Encourage them to look for positive role models

When teens are surrounded only by people their own age, it can be easy to slip into the trap of thinking that success at school is the be-all-and-end-all.

Who do they most admire? Researching or chatting to role models can encourage teens to see the bigger picture and realise that there is far more to success than just exam results.

Make time for them to do the things they love

When we are “in flow”, doing those things that are so easy and enjoyable to us that the time just passes without us realising – that’s when we are using our innate talents.

Encourage your teen to spend as much time as possible doing activities they love – when they are using their talents and doing what comes naturally to them, it will raise their self-esteem and their happiness levels.


As parents of teens, we might also be feeling anxiety and frustration on their behalf and sometimes it’s easy for us to try to “fix” the problem or offer solutions. Often, our teens just need to be heard and to be given the chance to let off steam. Feelings of anger and frustration are understandable and if they are given the opportunity to be “felt,” they will often pass.

Help your teen to see what they can influence and what they can’t

Your teen cannot directly control the grade that they will be awarded in the exams this year.

However, they can influence:

  • The level of importance they place on the outcome of the exams
  • The amount of time they spend doing what they love
  • The kinds of conversations they engage in with their friends
  • Their self-care (what they eat, how much they exercise and how much they sleep)

If your teen needs support with exam anxiety or self-confidence, book a discovery call with me today

Coaching for Teens – Charlotte Noon Coaching

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