What to do if your child's exam results are unexpected

publication date: Aug 12, 2019
author/source: Samrita Hayer

National Careers Service Exam Results Helpline

The National Careers Service Exam Results Helpline is the free service available for both parents and young people alike to seek advice and support following exam results. Here, Samrita Hayer shares her expert advice on what to do next if results are lower (or higher!) than expected.

Take a moment to pause before making any decisions

No matter how well your child did in their exam results, it’s best for them to take a short amount of time to pause and reflect on their next steps. They might have achieved better results than expected and want to explore new opportunities which are now available to them. If that’s the case, make sure they don’t rush into anything. On the flip side, your child might not have received the results they were expecting. If this is the case for your child, it’s important to remind them that exam results don’t necessarily define anyone’s ultimate career success.

Weigh up the different options

We always say – upon receiving exam results, the best possible thing for you and your child to do is look into all available options, regardless of what they achieved. When they’re in the haze of exam stress it’s easy to follow the crowd and choose similar options to friends. But it’s important to encourage them to research all the options available to them with their grades. A great way of exploring options is also by speaking to friends and family and asking them about their career choice and why they wanted to pursue this route.

Seek advice from experts

All of the advisers at the Exam Results Helpline have a passion to help young people understand their options and are sensitive to what a truly overwhelming time it can be. We take as long as needed to find out the callers strengths and personal interests and combine this with their results to find the best next steps for them in a straightforward way. If your child has smashed their results – calling the Exam Results Helpline can be a good way of quickly finding out about the routes they can now take and the best way for them to proceed with them. The helpline is also available to parents and guardians seeking advice on their children’s behalf.

Dream big

Finally, young people need to continue to dream big. If your child got the exam results they expected, or better – that’s fantastic, they will have a wide variety of options available to them to choose from. If your child received unexpected low exam results, encourage them to pick themselves up and take advantage of the services and information that’s out there.


The National Careers Service Exam Results Helpline number (0800 100 900) will be available between the hours of 8am – 10pm, 7 days a week and will be available from 14 August (the day certain vocational results are issued) and close on 29 August, following GCSE results day. Further info can also be found via the National Careers Service website. 

Expert advice can also be accessed through the Exam Results Helpline social channels, which will be launched on the 1 August – see below:

  • Twitter – @ExamResults2019 or use #ExamResultsLive to ask a question
  • Facebook – Exam Results Helpline Event page
  • LinkedIn – Exam Results Helpline Showcase page