I had such high hopes for my AS Levels.

I’d enjoyed my time in Year 12 and my first year of Sixth Form had been a great experience.  I could have worked harder, granted… but ultimately I had picked things up during the second half of the year and I was well on my way to getting through my year intact.

I had a list of different universities and what I was going to apply for – I can remember I had a firm plan in my head and I couldn’t wait to sign on to UCAS and begin my journey through Higher Education.

I was on holiday in Scotland when my AS results were due.  I rang in to get them – I got hold of the Sixth Form secretary and she kindly opened my results for me.  I wasn’t at all ready for what happened next.

So let me see: Maths you got a C, French you got an E, Chemistry was an E and Physics was a D.  Oh, and a B in GCSE Spanish.”

In that moment of letting it flood in, I asked about individual modules, knowing of course that it was completely irrelevant until I got back. For me, it had been a complete disaster.

My Dad was out fishing with my brother off the harbour entrance.  I ran outside and broke the news with a certain degree of devastation.  Safe to say he took it a little better than I did…

We sat and talked about my options and what I could do next.  It seemed that, in that moment, I had seen the red mist and thought that there was no way I could get it right now – my university dreams were gone.

Two days later, I was sat talking to Mr Harvey, my Sixth Form Director.  He knew exactly what happened and understood why.  My immediate approach was merely to tear it all up and start again – this obviously was the last thing that he was thinking off.  I walked away having dropped the two sciences, organised re-sits for some of the particularly bad modules, and took up a one-year course in IT so at least I was going to leave Sixth Form with a decent number of subjects.  I might still be able to get into university, I found myself thinking.

I guess that brings about the first piece of advice I can give to you if you’re sat there looking at results which disappoint you: don’t panic and predict doom for yourself.  Running to find my Dad made me think about how it was going to be the end of all things and I had basically blown it.

If you’re that disappointed with your results then believe me when I say you’ll more than likely take any option to sort things out.  Just don’t get despondent.  In this case, my tutor presented with an option that not only meant I could leave with the right number of qualifications, but it also meant studying something I had enjoyed and previously excelled in – I was always a bit of a whiz with computers and electronics.

Starting again was at the time a legit option for me, but looking back on it and how there was definitely another option for me, hindsight tells me that it was a bit rash of me – there was another option and I didn’t know about it.  You had a dream when you started at Sixth Form – starting again or dropping out should be your last resort.

I sat down and identified what had happened that had caused my results to be less than what I was hoping for – were my work habits up to scratch?  Did I put in the extra hours that I needed to?

In both cases, the answer for me was a definite ‘no.’  Rather than lamenting them, I resolved to go into that office and promise that those habits would change.  That was something I was rewarded for – with a new route and option.

If things are really confusing – as in, you put in weeks and weeks of hard graft and everything looks way off what you were predicting – then it’s worth asking for something to be re-marked.  It’s rare, but you might find something was amiss.  However, you’ll have to be really honest with yourself before you consider that route.

If you’re a GCSE student and a disappointing outcome has affected your place in higher education, then speak to whoever is in charge of your future institution.  I remember one guy in the year below me who didn’t get the GCSE English grade he required for two of his AS options.  He went in and explained how his passion was not lost for what he wanted to do.  The solution?  He’d study his AS Levels whilst re-taking those GCSE modules.  He was gutted at the time, but he soon realised there was another way.

Whatever you immediately feel at the time when you realise it’s not what you wanted, my advice is to try and stay positive and look to the future.  There will be a solution somewhere and if you have plans which you are determined to follow through with, you’ll find that people will be more than happy to help you along.  If it means restructuring your courses and perhaps shuffling things then consider it another shot at success, however you define it.

Don’t be too hard on yourself – for a little while I thought about every stupid time I hadn’t done what I was meant to do and so on… it just makes things tougher.  If literally nothing went to plan at all and you can’t find a single thing which went well, I don’t think you would have made it as far as you have so far.  There will always be a positive that you can build upon.

Don’t consider a bad set of results as ‘the end’ as such – there is always another opportunity if you take a look at what did and didn’t work and resolve to make things as you want them.  Take a deep breath and consider your options.  It’s rare that I say this, but take advice from others around you, like your department head and parents.  Everyone experiences disappointments at times and they’re the ones who will be able to help you the most.

Was CDEE ‘the end’ for me?  Well, I’m going into my fourth and final year of university.  I’ve been abroad for a year, I’ve learnt so many skills and had the best time of my life.  Would that have happened if those AS Levels were truly ‘the end’?  I don’t think so.  There’s always another way.

Keep it cool and pick yourself up.  There’s still some fight left, I bet you.




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Joseph is a French and Spanish to English translator, language enthusiast, and blogger.