Exams! Elated? or Disappointed!

“Examinations are formidable even to the best prepared, for the greatest fool may ask more than the wisest man can answer” – Charles Colton 1780 – 1832

Early August brought the exam results and whether we loved or hated our results, the turning point either way is to move forward.

My experience this time round was disappointment.  I had fought hard to get my revision and brain around the essentials and write within the reasonable framework of ‘a good essay’, I had remembered as much as I could remember, and kept the discipline going.  I had done my best, and that was all that mattered, but I was just a few points down to the finishing line…and that annoyed me more than anything.

After the self retribution, and internal admonishing of how useless I was as first, a student, and then a human being, I decided to shake off the post exam blues, and become more reasonable with myself.

I reached out to the infinite wisdom of Dr Barnsley.  She gently steered my thinking back to not ‘beating myself up for failure’, but nurturing my potential to improve.  She is right and that is what I plan to do, and encourage others to do the same who are suffering the ‘downs rather than ups’ of exam results.  One cannot lie down and die because you did not get the points you wanted, nor can you lie down and die because you scored at the top of the ladder and be complacent.  I know I did my best – and now I can do my best, and understand better – and stand up, get motivated, and jump onto the course again, and not let ‘not winning’ get me down.  As the saying goes ‘failure is normally success turned inside out’.

My wonderful fellow ‘international colleagues’ have listened and helped me a lot, they reminded me to not think in the ‘because you did not cross the line as you expected, mean that you are useless at literature’.

They expressed their need for me to keep going, because I feed their potential too…everything works on a two way street in the end.

My greatest supporter came from Singapore, who has struggled enormously and finally won…he just said…”don’t give up” – “you can do it,” he re-enforced my belief to stay the course…sometimes your ship hits a rough sea, but the calm of intuition and reason can make you see the greater side of your potential!

Being a student at Goldsmiths and on the international programme for Literature means going for quality, and understanding that you can understand more of ‘that quality’ than you may give yourself credit for, but you must keep going when the going gets tough.

The key to exam failure as well, is to not think ‘you are the idiot’, the exams are for evaluation, showing us how we need to hone our skills irrespective of what that result is. Those who smugly say “even a ‘thicko’ can get through this course,” are not really respecting their student colleagues in my opinion, and such remarks negate what studying Literature is really all about.  We are all different, and as an international community, we will move in different strides, and rhythms, as well, our highs and lows will be challenging, personal, but inspirational!

I want to thank all of those wonderful fellow ‘International Literature buddies’ out there who are still happy to walk along side me.   You have expressed high hopes in me…I absolutely must stick to my course I have set for myself.  Sticking it out around such great friends within the Literature department while I move forward, means I will in time, really bloom!  My final point is for all you other wonderful students out there who will be doing re-sits and re-evaluating their purposes with their exams for next year….hang in there….and remember you are not alone!

5 thoughts on “Exams! Elated? or Disappointed!

  1. As my spiritual teacher used to say: ‘Obstacles in your path are the elements to make you stronger. Without struggle there is no progress’.
    Failure in exams or in any discipline other than literature should be taken positively as a way of learning, because if we never fail, how can we rejoice at the face of success? I had my share of disappointments in this brief period that I’ve been studying for the Diploma, but I recovered and I see it as a positive sign that I need to rethink my strategies and identify my weakness in order to succeed next time. So for me failure is a way of learning further and to make me stronger mentally, intellectually and spiritually. Standing in the midst of disappointments strengthens your character. So the best way is to move on, study harder and achieve your goals.


  2. Hi Rachel,
    Thank you for sharing, your positive attitude is uplifting and inspiring for many of us. It is very generous of you to talk about your experience. Also, the message here is that none of us should take our results for granted. However, with some determination and the wonderful mutual support within the international community, we can all bloom, sooner or later.


  3. Hi Rachel,
    Just wanted to tell you how brave you are for sharing this experience with everyone. It is that bravery that will keep you going when you front up next May and you change ¨disappointment¨ for ¨elation¨. Looking forward to hearing from you this year during the E-Seminars!
    All the best,


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