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Not Happy with Your Grades? Here’s Why—And What to Do About It

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Not Happy with Your Grades? Here’s Why—And What to Do About It

Results day is on August 24th, and if you’re not happy with your child’s grades, there are several things to consider. On average, students take 8 exams across several subject areas, including Math, Science, English, modern languages, and other electives. This leaves plenty of room for students to perform well on some but not others.

In 2021, the UK saw a 77% passing rate for the GCSE, the highest in 20 years. However, with the pandemic causing so much disruption, it’s difficult to discern how to keep this trend going. Some students still aren’t happy with their grades, and early intervention is essential for building future academic success.

The key to unlocking your child’s potential lies in understanding where their academic struggles are rooted. Intellectual readiness and emotional resilience are two key components of evaluating academic performance and identifying areas in need of improvement. Whether you’re responsible for costly private tuition or use the public school system, these concepts are essential for students of all backgrounds.

Intellectual readiness and the 7 steps of genius

Intellectual readiness refers to how prepared a student is to effectively engage with the cognitive challenges presented by academic tasks, such as exams. It involves a combination of factors, including a strong grasp of subject knowledge, time management, clear communication, critical thinking abilities, problem-solving skills, and the capacity to apply learning to practical situations.

Achieving intellectual readiness helps to ensure that students are appropriately equipped to approach exams with confidence, allowing them to showcase their understanding and ability to effectively synthesize information in a thoughtful and organized manner.

Within the realm of intellectual readiness is the “7 Steps of Genius,” which is a framework designed to guide you toward a more effective and efficient learning process.

Let’s break down each step:


Before you dive into studying, it’s important to organize materials and create a study plan. Divide each subject into digestible chunks and allocate time for each topic. Set specific and achievable goals for each study session.

This makes it much easier to approach study time with clarity and purpose, rather than panic and overwhelm. Taking it piece by piece helps foster a greater sense of accomplishment and keeps motivation flowing.


Once you have the materials you need and some organization is underway, the next step is building the appropriate structure around your studying routine. In the same way an athlete needs to stick to a training regimen for a big competition, students need to stick to regular learning practices to keep their minds sharp and prepared for the next academic challenge.

It’s important to implement structure in your daily routine and regularly practice subjects that you don’t feel confident in. Academic coaches are especially useful for structure, and academic coaching is starting to become more popular than traditional tutoring due to it’s effectiveness.


To retain information properly, it’s important to be an active and engaged learner. Take advantage of techniques like summarizing, note-taking, and creating flashcards to reinforce your memory. Consistent review sessions will help cement your knowledge over time and become part of your routine. Retention is easier when you have that organization and structure in place already.


Being able to recall information from memory isn’t just helpful in terms of remembering the information, but it helps boost confidence. When you do things like self-testing and practice questions, you can improve your ability to identify the correct information on demand.

Don’t be discouraged if you’ve ever thought or been told that you have a bad memory. The brain is just like a muscle, it needs to be exercised to perform better. So, the more of an active learner you are, the easier you’ll find it to recall important test information while under pressure.


It’s important to go beyond basic memorization and really strive to understand underlying concepts in study materials. Seeking out real-life applications can help solidify your understanding of different principles and transcend to a deeper level of comprehension.

Forging connections between old and new concepts also helps with retention and future learning. When students can anchor abstract theories to tangible experiences, it makes a world of difference in learning and studying practices.


As mentioned above, applying knowledge to real-world scenarios is an essential part of processing and understanding different academic concepts. Not only can it help enhance your critical thinking and analytical skills.

One of the worst things a student can do is be a passive learner. To truly grasp and understand different theories and concepts in the classroom, it’s important to be active and engage to bridge theory and practice. Practical problem-solving exercises and hands-on experiences help equip students with the skills needed to navigate complex topics with confidence.


Sometimes, the best way to evaluate a situation is to take a step back for a moment. Try to identify your strengths and weaknesses in different subject areas. Learning from past mistakes is one of the easiest ways to guarantee growth. Instead of ignoring what didn’t work, it’s important to investigate and figure out why.

Once you have the why figured out, it becomes easier to discern how you might best learn in the future. Remember, it isn’t just about what you’re studying, it’s about how you learn, process, and regurgitate information.

Emotional resilience

The anticipation of GCSE exam results can trigger a wave of emotions and nerves. Even if you feel very prepared in terms of your material, a bout of nerves can still affect your performance. As a student in the UK, these exams mark a pivotal point in your academic journey. To maximize your chances of success, it’s essential to evaluate and address emotional resilience to be prepared and seamlessly sit through exams.

Managing exam anxiety

No student is immune from exam anxiety. Even if you don’t typically experience anxiety in your day-to-day life, the pressure of academic competition can cause uneasiness in even the most competent and confident learners. While some degree of stress can be motivating, excessive worry can actually hinder performance.

Between the fear of failure and the weight of other people’s expectations, mild to extreme anxiety is completely natural. However, it’s important to implement some strategies to help mitigate symptoms so energy can be channeled into intellectual readiness.

Here are some things to keep in mind:

Mindful awareness: It’s important to acknowledge however you’re feeling, but make sure to do so without preconceived notions or judgment. Using meditation and breathing techniques can be helpful in keeping yourself centered and staying present. Taking this time for yourself can help you identify unhealthy thought patterns or other mental blocks that you might be struggling with.

Positive self-talk: As you become more aware, you’ll start to identify the negative voice in your head more easily. Start replacing those negative thoughts with positive affirmations. It sounds simple, but when you get into a habit, you’ll notice your mindset starts to shift. Try affirmations like “I can handle any academic challenge,” and “I am prepared.” Before you know it, you’ll be waking up with more confidence than you thought possible.

Visualize success: A huge part of this process is visualization, where you simply spend a few minutes each day visualizing yourself successfully doing whatever it is that you aim to do. In the context of exams, you should picture yourself doing well and answering queries with confidence and self-assurance. This technique can help rewire your brain to associate exams with success rather than stress.

Be prepared: As mentioned earlier, intellectual readiness is one of the core components of performing well on exams. So, it’s important to construct an effective study routine so you can feel like you put in the necessary effort to do well.
Whenever you’re feeling exam anxiety, try to remember you’re not alone, and all you have to do is take small actionable steps to help manage your mindset. Academic coaches can help guide you through this process and identify areas that need improvement.

Cultivating a resilient mindset

Mental health is a crucial component of exam performance. If you don’t feel empowered in the face of a challenge, it’s going to be more difficult to do well. When you work on building a resilient mindset, it’s easier to bounce back from setbacks and feel confident in your academic abilities.

To strengthen your mindset, keep the following in mind:

Set realistic expectations: Striving for perfection isn’t realistic, and it only feeds negative self-talk. Of course, it’s great to want to improve, but it’s also important to keep your expectations realistic. Aim for greatness but give yourself grace in the moments when things don’t go as planned.

Embrace mistakes: Focus on the process, not the outcome, and don’t be afraid of making mistakes. Instead of fixating on final grades, focus on reevaluating study techniques and adopting a growth mindset.

Stay balanced: The key to success isn’t constantly overworking yourself, it’s about finding balance and having a well-rounded life so you can always approach academics with a fresh perspective and a healthy, balanced mindset.

Time management: When it comes to being prepared for exams, time is everything. If you don’t have great time management skills, now is the time to work on them so you can prevent burnout and give yourself plenty of time to prepare.

Support system: Everyone’s support system looks different. Whether you have a lot of people around you or a select few friends, family members, or teachers, don’t hesitate to reach out for guidance when you need it. If you pay expensive tuition, then you should feel even more empowered to take up their time!

Sleep and energy as fuel for success

Sleep is essential for cognitive function and renewed energy. If you neglect this part of your routine, you’re much more likely to fall prey to burnout, overwhelm, and subpar exam performance. When you make sleep a priority, you’ll feel much more energized and prepared to take on a demanding study schedule.

To keep your brain and body in optimal health, keep the following in mind:

Prioritize sleep hygiene: Establish a consistent sleep schedule to regulate your body’s internal clock and do your best to stick to it. Make sure you have a sleep-friendly environment—like blackout curtains and bed linens that make you excited to get tucked in. Try to avoid screen time right before bed if you want a better shot at more restful sleep.

Hydration and nutrition: Stay hydrated throughout the day and eat a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains.

Exercise regularly: If intense workouts aren’t your speed, that’s fine! Something as simple as a 20-minute walk outside can improve your mood and cognitive function.


Exam results day is often met with a lot of anxiety and anticipation. Of course, it’s natural to feel disappointed with a less-than-stellar result, but it’s no reason to get down. Instead, channel that energy into taking positive action and use the steps above to develop the skills of an active learner.

With intellectual readiness and emotional resilience in mind, you can build your own routine based on your specific learning style and needs. If you’d like to take it a step further and add another layer of insurance to your child’s academic future, consider working with a learning coach.

Different from a traditional tutor, a performance learning coach works with students from a holistic standpoint. After careful analysis of current and past performance, the coach will develop a tangible and actionable plan specifically designed for a student’s specific needs. So, if you’re unhappy after results day this year, reach out to our team today and gear up for a future filled with achievement and growth.

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