How To Approach A Level Results
It's a total joy to share these testimonies of results days past and present, to equip you as you prepare to receive your A Level results with a mindset rooted in biblical truths. We're praying that you would be reminded how great and good our God is, and that He has a plan for your life - whatever the letters on the page are tomorrow morning.
Trusting in Jesus when things do go to plan!
It seems like a distant memory now, but to be entirely honest, results day was a great day for me. I had done well, and September’s destination was now certain. It was a great day of celebration with family and friends.
I think there’s the danger, both in the situations where everything is fine and dandy and the situations when it feels like things couldn’t get much worse to forget that we have a mighty, loving, powerful heavenly Father behind it all who cares for us and is in control of everything, right down to the number of hairs on our head! (Matthew 10:30).
I remember, even after I had got the results I wanted and had arrived in Bristol at my first choice university, I still spent the first few weeks constantly fretting about whether I’d make any genuine friends, what people thought of me, if I’d get into the musicals I was auditioning for etc etc…
All this showed was my desire to control things myself, and my total lack of belief in Jesus’ trustworthiness. I had forgotten that the Lord is “able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us” (Ephesians 3:20).
How silly we are, then, to act like this isn’t true and to try and take things into our own hands, when we are offered so much more in Jesus. We are weak on our own, but He is strong. And when I missed home friends and I didn’t get into the play, these truths didn’t change. Let’s pray that we trust in Jesus’ kingship and not our own efforts, whether you’ve got 3 A*s or missed your grades entirely.
Bea is going into her final year studying Languages at Bristol University.
Where is God when things don't go to plan?
I've always been organised, conscientious, and relatively high-achieving. At school I don't remember ever stunning anyone with my efforts or achievements. Although I never felt under a huge amount of pressure, people around me sort of expected me to do well. In short, life seemed to be going to plan.
From the age of 12, I wanted do go on and study History after school. When I started looking at universities, I knew that Cambridge was going to be a stretch – I went to a state comprehensive school with a fairly patchy track record of getting students into Oxbridge, and my AS-level results were only just good enough to consider applying. But my life motto has always been: "you’ll never know unless you try", so I decided to give it a go anyway.
Over the ensuing months of applying, visiting Cambridge and going up for interview, I fell in love with the place and with the idea of studying there. But I applied to other universities as well, and throughout the process, I kept giving all of it up to God in prayer. My parents and siblings prayed with me too, and I felt sure that God was at the centre of everything.
But (here comes that “but”!), I was actually far too self-reliant. When I received an offer from Cambridge, I believed that I could do all the work to get the necessary three As by my own strength. I thought I was enough for me to reach the place where God was sending me.
So when I went into school on that results day in August 2008, I was shocked and disappointed to discover that I’d missed an A in French by just a few marks. As the tears of disappointment began to fall, I remember feeling like my world was crashing down around me as I realised my pride and self-reliance. The worst thing was feeling like I’d heard God wrong – I’d been convinced that He wanted to send me to Cambridge. But I’ll always remember the ten-minute walk home from school with my Mum – as we prayed, she helped me to put everything into perspective, to see that God still had a plan for my life.
When I got home, my siblings presented me with a huge bunch of flowers and a card that said, “You’re still a star”. I still have that card, and it serves as a reminder that even when I mess things up and succumb to self-reliance, God still showers me with affirmation – I’m still a star to Him!
In the midst of all of this, my sister presented me with a letter that I knew was from the Cambridge college I’d applied to. I opened it and it said: “Dear Lucy, Having seen your results, we would like to confirm your place to study history in October this year.” I couldn’t believe it – I had to ring them up and check it was true! Once again, this was a timely illustration of God’s grace.
I can honestly say that the older I get, the more dependent I become on God. I’ve learnt that growing in maturity and in age doesn’t actually look like greater independence. As time has passed, I've given over more parts of my life to God, leant on Him more heavily, and trusted Him more readily. And I promise you, it is the most freeing, liberating sensation in the world because He is faithful and He works all things together for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28). What an amazing God!
Lucy graduated with a History degree from Cambridge University, and now lives and works in London.
Results don't change your status
The night before results day I would feel sick. My heart would be hammering all evening, and my stomach would be in knots. I would write out each subject, and then predict the 'worst case scenario' for what grade I thought I would receive, in order to mentally prepare myself for failure. Then staring at my own pessimistic predictions, I would pray over and over again that God would reassure me of his love and give me peace, yet the nerves would still eat away at my heart. I would know in my head the truth of God's love and plan for me, but I didn't trust in my heart that God wouldn't see my results and love me differently because of them. I was afraid. My eyes kept drifting away from Jesus.
I honestly believed that my A-Level results would show to everyone who I truly was. That if they were disappointing, then it would reveal to my friends, family and to God, that I was inadequate failure. And if they were good, then people would see how great and hardworking I was, and all the glory would go to me. I was so fixated on me and myself, that I was starting to lose sight of God in it all. I'd dangerously started to base my identity on my achievements and not on the grace and glory of my heavenly father! This is dangerous ground.
It's at this point, when your anxiety for your results starts to take over from the knowledge you have in your head of your identity in Christ, that it's vital to turn to the Bible and remind yourself of who God is, and what he has promised.
You are a child of God. Romans 8 :15 explains that we have "received the spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry 'Abba! Father!" God doesn't base his love for you on how successful you are academically. His love is unconditional. As a child of God, you cannot earn any more of his love, and you cannot cause God to love you any less. You are stuck in the glorious position of being completely, utterly and perfectly loved by God, and your results don't alter that. Be confident in God's acceptance of you
Later on in Romans 8:38-39, Paul explains just how impossible it is to be separated from God's love.
"For I am convinced that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of Christ Jesus our Lord."
Tomorrow, God will not look at you, or love you any differently because of the grades you receive. You are his beloved daughter, which means you are precious and valuable. Results day wonderfully doesn't change that.
You will be told time and time again, that these results will determine your future. Teachers and sometimes parents will pressure you to believe that the grades on that sheet of paper define who you are and indicate how much you are worth. And as you open that envelope, with heart pounding and memories of all those hours spent working flashing through your head, it is very easy to lose perspective of who you truly are. But remember, you are not a grade on a page, you are not a pass or a fail and you are not a university place.
You are a beloved child of God.
Think about Matthew 14, when Peter gets out of the boat, and begins to walk on the water towards Jesus. It's all going well, until Peter takes his eyes off Jesus and is frightened by the wind and the waves around him. It's at that point that Peter begins to sink. When you take your eyes off Jesus, and become frightened of the things around you, you will begin to sink. Today and tomorrow, in the midst of Results, keep your eyes fixed on Jesus, remembering that you are an adopted and loved child of God, and he will guide you through the waves, whatever they may be.
Lucy has just finished her first year at Durham University, studying English Literature.
Not defined by your results
Life can be presented to you in a box. You’re told what grades you need to get to go where you want to go. Before my A level results I had bought into this box. I had a really tough final year at school and had experienced the breaking up of relationships and friendships, but I was clinging onto the fact I would nail my exams.
Results day came and the opposite happened. I spent the day angry and distraught and was grovelling on the phone to any university desperately trying to explain that I was better than my results said on paper. My parents offered to pray for me and I refused. Why would I want God’s help when he had let this happen?
The truth was that God wanted to do exactly what I was pining for, He wanted to show me that I was in fact ‘better than my results said on paper’. God had entirely different plans for me and it was only when I let go of my plans that he was able to transform and restore me. I ended up taking a gap year and doing a missions programme called YWAM. I radically encountered the love of God and discovered that I was defined by His love and not by exam results. Not only did I have an incredible year learning to love Him and myself, but I got into my first choice university when I reapplied and didn’t even have the grade requirements.
God has unimaginable plans but it’s only when we let go of control and stop letting fear reign that we fully walk into them. We serve a God who never lets us down so however your results go, trust that there is nothing He cannot redeem for good.
Violet has just finished her first year at Durham University.