Crafting the best answer to why you did poorly in GCSEs


postsnap personalised photo card app UKA step-by-step guide to the perfect response

Analyse your question and your audience: “Why did you do poorly in your GCSEs?” – Angry parents

(Remember PEEL: Point, Evidence, Explain, Link to question)

Firstly, make sure you take a deep breath, are hydrated and have had a healthy breakfast before you approach this question.

1. Make your ‘point’ or ‘statement’.
I suggest turning the argument around a little so that you can talk about what you want to talk about.
“I may have done a little less well than expected, but…”

2. ‘Explain’ yourself.
Every person’s explanation will be different, but I suggest focussing on your strengths.
“…but I think I did quite well considering…”

3. Use ‘evidence’ – compare yourself to others.
Feel free to pick your favourite celebrity or famous person below to support your statement. This will become your ‘example’.
“Despite not doing as well as I had hoped in my GCSEs, I would like to point out that…”

• Ryan Gosling was hired to play the part of the hunk in The Notebook because the director thought he was unattractive. (Ha. Great joke.) Look where he is now… I know where he is now. He’s on my bedroom wall. With his ‘photoshopped’ abs and a jaw line that’s so sharp it would cut you if you hugged him too tight. Lucky he didn’t shy away from acting, and lucky he looked exactly the way he did, or else he wouldn’t be the Gosling we know of today.

• Bill Gates dropped out of Harvard. Then, after starting a failed business, he co-founded Microsoft. Boom. He’s a gazillionaire.

• Elvis Presley was told by his first performance manager that he wasn’t “going nowhere, son. You ought to go back to driving a truck”. Not only did this manager of Elvis’ have poor grammatical skills when speaking, but he was also wrong. Lucky Elvis didn’t give up or else we wouldn’t know anything about rocking in the jailhouse.

• “Just keep swimming.” Ellen DeGeneres’ show was cancelled in 1998 controversially after she came out as gay. And yet she pushed on and now apparently has a reported net worth of $345 million! Not to mention her incredible talent for voicing lovable Dory.

• Walt Disney was fired by a newspaper editor for having no good ideas and lacking creativity. Just goes to show that there isn’t always a right and wrong answer, or just one way to be ‘smart’.

• Einstein didn’t speak until he was four, and didn’t read until he was seven. Aaaaaaaaand then he grew up to become a genius.

4. Finally, link back to your question of ‘why did you do poorly in your GCSEs?’.
Feel free to quote some of the best fictional characters in Hollywood:

• Steve Carrel’s character talks about a famous writer in Little Miss Sunshine, and how he became so successful:

“All those years he was happy? Total waste, didn’t learn a thing. But high school – those are your prime suffering years. You don’t get better suffering than that.”

So, quite frankly, this slight set back is probably just the inspiration you needed to succeed in life!

• And, the amazing 90s movie The Commitments about a ‘failed’ band who never made great fame. A character in the movie puts the band’s success into perspective:

“You’re missing the point. The success of the band was irrelevant… Sure we could have been famous and made albums and stuff, but that would have been predictable. This ways, it’s poetry.”

Which, I think is a fabulous come-back to anyone who is disappointed in your results:
“Calm down, Ma! If I had of passed, it would have been predictable. This way it’s poetry.”

And, BOOM. You’re Bill Gates in five years’ time. Well done you.

Just so you know that everything will be okay, here are some motivational quotes from my parents for you:

As my mum says, “it takes all sorts to make a village.” Not everyone finds maths easy, not everyone gets grammar. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses – and that’s good.

Whether the educational system is the best or the worst, “just play the game and jump through the hoops”, as my dad says. It’s not forever, but doing the hard work now will make life easier for you later on.

So, although I’m sure you have passed and done incredibly well, I hope you feel safe in the fact that you now have some great come-backs and examples to support your argument if you were to do less than well in any of your GCSEs.

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