Tips to combat plummeting exam results for those who don’t thrive in exams

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“Exam grades plummet.”  With changes to the exam system in the UK, and a greater emphasis on end of year exams rather than course work and modular tests, English GCSE scores have plummeted.  The recently implemented overhaul to the qualifications system was designed to curb potential over-marking by teachers.


The emphasis is moving back to final exams

The emphasis is moving back to final exams

A move from modular work to final exams

With more emphasis on sitting exams rather than modular coursework for the English and Geography exams (with possibly others subjects following suit in the future), coupled with a ban on taking the same exam twice in one year, what can those students who don’t shine and perform well in exams do to help themselves?

In a previous Blog post: Why good students go to mush in exams I shared tips and insights about what those who don’t thrive or perform well in exams can do to improve their performance. 

Did you pass with flying colours?  Do you realise what comes next?

If you or your child passed their exams with flying colours, well done.  If you didn’t quite make your grades, but just scraped through, well done to you too.  If you didn’t quite make it, well done for giving it a go, and know that there is still hope in turning things around.

And even if you did pass, for those that intend to continue your educational journey, after the euphoria of passing, there will be that dawning realisation that things will continue to get more challenging from here on in as your studies become more advanced.

Is this a new and harder downward spiral?

Are the A's and A* grades at risk?

Are the A’s and A* grades at risk?

Data released by the Joint Council for Qualifications revealed that the number of A* grades was down by a single percentage point, and 61.7% of English papers were graded at least a C, down by almost 2% on last year.  Today’s GCSE exam results present the biggest one-year drop in English results since GCSE exams were introduced back in 1988, so the big question is whether the new format will continue to put future students who don’t perform well in exams under further pressure.

And it is not just students that are under pressure, state schools also find themselves under threat in the league table battle.

Schools and institutions might have to worry too . . . . 

These changes also a mark a potentially worrying development for state schools because the drop in English grades could force many more them below the Government’s official floor targets, and place them under special measures and the threat of a takeover.

This is the second year for the new league tables, so if poor results, parents being put off by what they see in terms of expectations for their child, and the threat of takeover are to be avoided, a lot of emphasis comes down to the students having to up their game and make the most of the ‘one year one exam sitting’ now that the January and March exam sittings have been scrapped for many.

This leads to a potential spiral of pressure all round.

New Term New Approach to your Studies

Will the added stress and pressure get in the way of exam performance?

Will the added stress and pressure get in the way of exam performance?

With the start of the new academic year only weeks away, now is the time to start preparing yourself for what is to come.  You might have had a taste of the hard work that has been involved to get this far, and gained more of an insight of what is likely to be in store as you progress to A Levels, University, or your Post Graduate studies.

Below are a few tips to get you started as you gear up for a fresh start and a new term:

Prepare.  Once you have your text books and starter course notes Preview and PhotoRead™ everything.  A Preview will take 60-90 seconds, and it takes approximately 5 minutes to PhotoRead an entire book from start to finish.  Doing this with all of your course material at the beginning of each term will lay the foundations for the knowledge that you then continue to build on throughout the year.

Get  Creative.  Create Mind Maps in addition to your traditional linear handwritten notes.  You can often get an entire topic, or at least full subject area onto one Mind Map which is amazingly useful when you sit down later in the year to revise.  Mind Maps also enhance your creativity and improve your memory, something which will assist you greatly when writing essays and papers, and sitting future exams.

The PhotoReading Whole Mind System

Mind Map of The PhotoReading Whole Mind System

Activate.  Use your lectures as a form of Activation.  Don’t just use Activation during your revision sessions, if you have already invested a couple of hours to Preview and PhotoRead everything, as you go through the academic year your lectures, assignments, discussions, course work, and tests can be used to enhance your Activation and your ultimate overall performance.

Get in State.  Remember to get yourself into the Accelerated Learning State before do all of the above.  When you are in that state of relaxed alertness, both your logical analytical thinking, and your creative thinking faculties are enhanced.  You also have more focus, increased concentration, and better left and right brain integration.

Is this all new to you?

If you are not already familiar with these processes and techniques (Preview, PhotoReading, Activation, etc) you will find an overview of how to get into the Accelerated Learning State, and an example of Mind Mapping in my previous Blog From 3 Exam Failures to Success.

The tips above are derived from a system called PhotoReading™.  For a brief overview of the 5 Step PhotoReading™ Whole Mind System go to:  

For those want to learn more and even get started instantly, you can jump right in and learn from the comfort of your own sofa.  Go to:

I have also previously shared insights about How to Grow your limitless brain potential and take all areas of your life to the next level in an earlier Blog post. 

Good luck with whatever comes next on your academic or professional journey, and remember that no matter your starting point, it is always possible to get even better and improve.

Marilyn x



Marilyn Devonish is a Certified PhotoReading Instructor and Accelerated Learning Coach, a Certified Trainer of NLP, Certified Life and Executive Coach, Certified Trainer of Hypnosis, and Management Consultant.  Prior to getting into the world of Coaching and Accelerated Learning, Marilyn did a Business Studies Degree, Post Graduate Chartered Institute of Marketing Diploma.  She now combines her business and esoteric skills to create a unique learning and transformation experience for both her individual and corporate clients.

Marilyn came to PhotoReading at a time where her memory was so bad that she had a Medical Certificate from her Doctor which gave her extra time in her ACCA Professional Accountancy Exams.  Within weeks of learning the PhotoReading Whole Mind System and applying principles from personal development and Accelerated Learning, her entire life transformed.  She has been running PhotoReading Workshops and offering private one-to-one PhotoReading Coaching Sessions since March 2002.




PhotoReading Workshops:

Online PhotoReading Introduction DVD:

Limitless 1-Day Workshop: Where Neuroscience Meets Science Fiction




About the Author:

Marilyn Devonish has been described as the UK equivalent of Oprah Winfrey, Marianne Williamson, Anthony Robbins, a dash of Doreen Virtue, and the trio from Charmed all rolled into one. I (Marilyn Devonish) have admit that was too big of a statement for me to own, but I equally admit that I do like the sound of it and it did make me smile. Marilyn Devonish - Herself since Year 2000.

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