Okay, so by now you’ve probably sat some of your final exams. And before we go on with the rest of the article, we should note that you’re totally entitled to feel whatever you’re feeling. Whether you feel absolutely stoked so far, or absolutely distraught so far, or somewhere in between, that’s valid. They’re your emotions, and don’t let anybody tell you otherwise.


If you feel as though you’ve screwed your exams so far, there are some things you should consider. If that sounds like you, read on!

Think you stuffed up? It’s hard to say.

I came out of one of my exams absolutely inconsolable – I thought I totally bombed it. I went home, I cried, I was angry. All of my work during the year – I thought it had gone to waste.

When results came out, it turned out I had actually performed pretty well relative to the rest of the state. And that’s the thing: even if you feel like you didn’t perform well, maybe it was a more difficult exam than usual. Maybe everybody else is also feeling the same way. Maybe you’re being too harsh on yourself.

Now, we’re not ignorant: not every story will be like this, and there will be people who are ultimately disappointed by and in their marks. But the idea here is that it’s actually very difficult to accurately reflect on how well or otherwise you performed, as the whole thing is relative. You might be disappointed with a 70% mark, but what if that’s the best mark in the state? There’s really only one thing you can do when it comes to exam performance: wait and see. And with that in mind…

It’ll be counter-productive to dwell too much.

If you feel like you’ve stuffed up, it’s obviously natural to feel disappointed or angry. You won’t come out of the exam and think that everything smells like roses and see rainbows all over the sky and have unicorns dancing past. It sucks – there’s no doubt about that. But what good is going to come from curling up in your bed and crying about the marks that you might have “lost” for the next couple of weeks? Very little – if any.

stuffed exams

So, after each exam is done (YAY!), try to take some time out to reflect for a time, and then push it to one side. You can learn a lot from every single exam you sit, whether that be in terms of preparation, time management or something completely different – and these are the sorts of lessons you can implement in your next exams.

Doing poorly on one exam sucks, but you know what would suck even more? Letting that one exam impact your next ones, like some sort of horrible domino effect. Do everything you can to take confidence out of what you did well, and learn from what you didn’t. But don’t let the negatives fester and affect you too much.

Look forward, not backward.

Realistically, you can still make a huge impact on your ATAR with your next exams, and you shouldn’t forget that. If you can perceive your future exams as opportunities to showcase what you know rather than threats to highlight what you don’t, you’ll walk into those exams in a good position to do well.

Remember: every single question you answer well is contributing to your ATAR. Every single question you answer well is a little win. So celebrate them! I don’t mean like, throwing huge parties for every two-marker you nail, but take confidence from those questions. Get on a bit of a roll. It wasn’t unusual for me to (internally) fist-pump after completing a question, and really hyping myself up to get on with it and smash the next one, too.

At the end of the day, things are never as good as they seem and, perhaps more pertinently, things are also never as bad as they seem. It’s easy to look back on an exam, remember a few questions you stumbled at, and let that mentally overshadow all the good work you did – this was certainly the case for me when I reflected on my exams. But this doesn’t really get you anywhere, so keep in mind that you can still improve before your next exam, and you can still ace it from here!