Whether 2019 was your first year of NCEA, or your last, today marks the day that students far-and-wide fear: Results day.


If you’re reading this article, it may be that you need a pick-me-up after battling the NCEA servers only to find that your results weren’t quite what you were hoping for.


Those pesky letters sitting beside your external grades can either make or break you. Maybe it’s for your subject options this year, or your future study perspectives. Either way, we put a lot of weight into the grades we receive.


So, let’s go ahead and breakdown why your grades are not the end of the world (we promise, even if it feels like it at the moment), and how you can go into 2020 on the right foot, no matter what results tell you.



Reflect, and strategise


First things first: Regardless if you were disappointed with your grades or super psyched, there is always room for improvement. Always.


In the same way bad grades can make up anxious, good grades can make us complacent. The important thing to remember is that there is always something you don’t know, or could improve in.


At first, this is kind of a crippling idea because there’s just so much out there. However, what this mindset also tells you is that no one is perfect and all-knowing. Not even your mum.



Knowing how and where to improve is a matter of reflection. Consider a few of these:

  • What was your study strategy for exams?
  • Did you study for all subjects? Which ones did you put the most effort into?
  • What study methods did you use the most?
  • What was your in-exam gameplan? Was there one at all?
  • Do your grades reflect the amount of effort you felt you put in?
  • What were your goals for externals? Did you achieve them? If not, by how much?


Once you’ve done a bit of soul-searching, you’ll find that you have a much clearer idea of how or where the s*** hit the fan. It can also help us take some accountability for the things that past-us may have done to sabotage future-us.


Getting a decent idea of what went down can also show us the importance of the small things. Whether this be that extra 30-minutes of study to clarify what glycolysis actually is, or that class workshop you missed because lunch was just way more enticing at the time. 


When we receive grades we’re unhappy with, we can run-up against a lot of mental barriers to improvement. It could be fighting that defeatist voice in your head that tells you “I’m just not a ___ person” (fun fact: this is not a thing), or thinking that results were just so bad that you need to melt yourself down and start again.



In reality, it’s usually not a huge thing that we need to switch-up, and we often undervalue the small, regular tasks that fall into the day-to-day background (e.g. regular study sessions).


After knowing our weaknesses, we can restrategise for the future. We can’t find a questionable mad-scientist to turn back time for us, but we can do our best to be better for the future. This should be your focus going forward.




Weigh up the worth


Okay, so, we don’t mean to be too savage when we ask this: but how much is this event actually worth your energy?


Is this event life-changing for you? Will it mean your entire life prospects have been significantly altered? If it’s NCEA grades, both of those answers should be no. 


That’s because one years’ results is really micro in the span of your life. Give people even 1-year out of high school and they’ve already begun to forget (or repress) those little letters NCEA issued them once upon a time.



There are certainly things NCEA results contribute to, but what we’re saying is that it cannot completely decide what you want to do. You can still do you boo.


When considering the true impact of something, it’s good to bring it out to a wider, macro-perspective. NCEA is only 3-years of your entire life, you have oodles of time to do what you want (and probably make bigger mistakes, no pressure). Instead of lamenting over what was, look forward to what you can do now.


Understanding the true value of a perceived failure (or success) can help in framing how much emotional gusto you should be putting into it.




So, what steps can be taken when you’re not happy with your grades?


Results day can feel like quite a definitive experience, you either passed, or failed, got UE, or didn’t.


However, there is more to it than just that and there are a bunch of different things you can do to bump yourself up, depending on the qualm.


The first thing is discretionary entrance and prep courses. This may be the go if you’ve just missed out on UE. Contact your uni of choice and discuss the options you have. They’re the experts on this and you may even find some options you didn’t know existed. Another option is prep courses, these are partial courses designed to prepare you for a full paper and fill in any gaps in your knowledge you may have.



Prep courses are a good option if you missed a necessary paper, or didn’t take a required subject for your desired course. Again, it’s a good idea to speak with your university about your options around this!


If you’re just shy of an endorsement, or passing, it may also be a good idea to look at having your paper reassessed. Bear in mind, it’s not guaranteed that you will have a grade bumped up if you send it back, but if you’re right on the cusp of the next grade up, it may be the go. By looking over your papers when you get them back, you can get an idea of how close you were! The date that these have to be submitted by is the 19th of February.




There’s really no rush


No matter if this was your first, or last year of NCEA, it’s important to remember that there really is no rush to have it all sorted out right now.



Opportunities will always be presented to you, and your education is not something that needs to be completed within 5, 8, or even 10 years, because it’s for you.


We don’t have to finish high school, go straight to uni, then work for the rest of our lives. There is a whole world out there that will continue to spin, regardless if you have an Excellence endorsement or failed every paper you’ve ever taken. 



Enjoy the journey, because if we’re always looking towards the next thing to conquer or achieve, we run the risk of missing the small things that make it all worth it. 


We encourage you to think about this when processing this silly season of grades and the new year. Find the things you love, work hard for them, and do your best to block out the noise of what other people are doing.


Good luck for 2020!




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