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Reading your uni results: advice from our experts

11 July 2016
It’s important to remember that you’re not your exam marks

Results are an important part of your studies, but they are not just numbers. Our experts share advice on how your results can be used to reflect on last semester and plan your next set of goals.

Coaching psychologist Associate Professor Anthony Grant and educational psychologist Dr Susan Colmar offer up their expert advice on how to prepare for your results and the next semester.

Your results don’t define you

Associate Professor Anthony Grant, Director of the Coaching Psychology Unit at the School of Psychology

“Exam time is always a very stressful time of the year – it’s perfectly natural to have lots of anxiety around getting results. The question is how to make it constructive, and avoid a downward spiral of self-flagellation, or a dismissive ‘I never cared anyway’ stance.

“We tend to get captivated by performance outcomes, where people pin large sections of their self-worth on how they’re doing compared with other people. It’s important to first recognise that you are not your exam marks. We should all be proud of our achievements, big and small, but when you separate your sense of self from your marks, you can start to think about results differently.

“It’s much more effective and useful to work with the notion of learning goals, and think of uni (and life) as a learning experience. Learning goals are about focusing on mastering the task, learning and developing a solid understanding. Think about yourself in a holistic way, think about the skills that you need to develop to move forward, and find people that you can do it with.

“It’s also worth reflecting that some people place a lot of pressure on themselves to try and reach a specific career, but it’s important to remember that careers change. What people will take away from their time at University isn’t just the grades, but also how they developed and the skills they acquired.”

Plan ahead this semester, no matter the results of last

Dr Susan Colmar, Program Director of School Counselling/School Psychology MTeach

“Before results come out, it’s a good idea to go back to the basic notion of self-reflection. It’s healthy to think about what you would do if the worst happened and how you would deal with it to move forward, rather than catastrophising and falling to pieces. Know that you’d be offered appropriate support and the systems are there – we’re here to help and we’re not here to judge.

“Those who are confident they’re going to be fine should also reflect and be proud, but maybe still think of ways they might want to do it a little differently next time, to make sure they don’t have too much on or place too much pressure on themselves.

“You might need to make some adjustments to how you run your life next semester. Plan and do some forward time-management – ‘this is what I have to do, and this is how I’ll fit this assignment in with other things in my schedule.’ A lot of us, myself included, half-plan – so we know that we need to get things done but then we end up working down to the wire. Task management helps to identify the steps you need to take to get there.

“In any given semester, anyone can have life-factors that get in the way. I honestly think that this University has good support, so if something major is happening in your life there’s a raft of people and resources you can go to. You can seek counselling support from CAPS, there’s other support services there’s the Learning Centre, your own unit coordinator. And certainly if a student has a fairly major personal thing happen, then we’ve got special consideration arrangements. It’s just important that students act early – if you don’t do as well as you’d like in your first assignment, then that’s when you should be seeking help. We’re generally very understanding and we have systems in place to help students.”

Find your results in Sydney Student. (Go to 'My Studies', then 'Assessments').