6 teaching hacks to reveal poor exam results

Those currently teaching in the UK will have recently breathed a sigh of relief when the exam period came to an end. That said, all educators – whether they have just steered pupils towards their SATs, GCSEs or A-levels – may soon have to face up to the likelihood of some less than stellar test results buried within the passes. If you’re concerned about how to address any unsatisfactory marks, here are six teaching hacks to help you inform students that they’ve achieved a poor result.


Students – whether they think they have passed or failed – are often very delicate just before receiving their exam results. You should, therefore, take extra care to make sure you tread carefully when delivering the bad news. In preparation for tears or shock, reveal the test marks in private away from others.


There’s always a silver lining – and as a teacher, it’s your job to find it. Even though a pupil may have failed one of their exams, you should try to find something positive buried within. This should remind your pupils that you recognise their potential to do better.


Don’t just present a bad result without any indication on how it can be improved. More so than the good results, you’ll need to justify the mark – even if you’re not the marker. While it may make for an uncomfortable conversation, you should pinpoint the areas where the pupils failed to hit a decent pass mark.

Action plans

There’s no use dwelling on something that’s already happened. Instead, pupils should start to look ahead to the future. You can help nudge them in the right direction by encouraging them to make an action plan full of short and long-term goals to ensure better results next time.

Personal improvement

Without making yourself out to be the guilty party, you could ask pupils if there was anything you could have done better prior to the exams. This could be any number of things – from additional revision sessions to crafting study guides. This should remind the pupils that you’re there for support and will continue to help in any way possible moving forward.


Don’t forget that an unsavoury exam result may play on a pupil’s minds for several weeks – even if you’ve made peace with it. Therefore, be sure to re-visit the subject when the dust has settled to see how each student is coping and if there’s any way you can assist.

You can do it!

Hopefully, the bulk of the exam results will be reason to celebrate. However, for those occasions when one or two aren’t, follow these hacks and you should be able to limit the damage.

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