Studies

So you got your O-Level results… now what?

by Gabriel Ong // January 12, 2022, 12:03 pm

What next

Today’s the day: O-Level results are released and destinies are decided. Or are they?

Given that this can be a confusing and tumultuous time, we’ve prepared a handy roadmap to help you navigate your coming days and decisions regardless of how you did in the examinations.

Done figuring out where you are on this chart? Read on for more advice and encouragement!

GOOD

Congratulations! It’s no mean feat to have done well in the O-Levels. Your results are likely the result of hard work, so you should take the opportunity to celebrate.

Did you know celebrating our successes is an opportunity to glorify God? You have a unique opportunity to do so with your good grades.

Family and friends will ask about how you did. It’s important then to give God the credit in your life, using what He’s given you to glorify Him. So take a step further to tell them about how God enabled you to achieve your results.

Struggling with my mental health through my O-Levels, I expected the worst

Be specific. You might share about how God gave you peace when you prayed right before taking the paper and how that helped you to ace a subject. Or you could talk about how God directed you to the right tutors or sources for help.

Even if you didn’t expect to do so well because you hardly studied for the examinations, you can tell them that God gave you an undeserved miracle. Thank God for His mercy.

Good grades are nothing to be shy about. Let’s step away from the false humility we often show when we sheepishly smile and wave away congratulations. Accept the well wishes and give credit where it’s due.

After all, it is good to be excellent.

NOT AS GOOD AS I WANTED

I’ve been there.

My L1R5 was supposed to be significantly better than it turned out, especially since my D&T teacher had been so quick to assure me that the guitar stand I made would nab an A1.

They must have dropped it or something. Because D&T (and E-Maths) ended up pulling me down quite badly, which meant my dreams of moving on to the same junior college my friends planned on going to together went up in smoke.

I couldn’t really see a way forward at the time. I didn’t see much else beyond disappointment.

If I could go back in time with the benefit of hindsight, I’d tell myself not to freak out. Life finds a way, and there’s always a step forward we can take.

It turned out that I could still go to junior college, albeit a different one.

Grades don’t define your future

Things weren’t easy over those two years as I found I wasn’t good at making friends. But I put my head down, worked hard and even reconnected with an old church friend who would someday become my wife.

It’s all about perspective. If I had known what God was doing in my life at the time, I would have been so excited. Life is a lot more than the numbers and letters systems hand to us.

Jeremiah 29:11 is quoted a lot, and for good reason. If you feel like you’ve missed the mark, all is not lost. With God, you always have hope and a future.

One of my good friends from secondary school went on to do pretty poorly in his A-Level examinations.

But through opportunities and lessons learnt elsewhere in life, he’s gone on to make a very successful living and have a wonderful family too.

Interesting thing is that he had actually done very well during the O-Levels. So nothing’s guaranteed in life. There are highs and lows.

Back to where we are right now, however.

BAD

If you did poorly and feel terrible – that’s okay. Give yourself the space and time to be disappointed.

But don’t stop there. Though it’s easy to feel like all choice has been taken away from you and that all that’s left to do is wallow in self-pity, my encouragement is to begin to adopt the right perspective.

What does that look like? Very simply, in the next few days, it boils down to the next things that you can do.

After you have given yourself space to grieve, reflect on the whole process that has led you to this academic outcome.

What were some areas you can pinpoint as being responsible for the bad results? A lack of control in how you spent your free time? Hanging out with the wrong crowd? Being too shy to clarify questions in class? Problems when it comes to staying focused or motivated?

Finding out where you went wrong will set you up for success, whether you retake your examinations or choose to do something else with your future.

That PSLE math question: What is my worth if I can’t solve a problem?

At the same time, be kind to yourself: Acknowledge the things you did along this academic journey that were good.

As you reflect, rest in God’s sovereignty. Thank Him that this low point in your life is not the end! He has a plan for you.

It can be tough to find out that bad things do happen on this side of eternity. It’s a difficult truth you might find yourself reckoning with right now.

But bad results won’t be the last bad thing you come across in life, and they certainly won’t kill you. In some sense, your pain right now may well turn out to be a blessing in the future if you process the disappointment in the right way.

So make a choice to give thanks. We are called to do so in all circumstances – it is God’s will for us.

Know that excellence is not defined solely by the grades we get, especially when we consider Christlikeness as the highest form of excellence. It is possible even when we struggle or face failure.

And so, the encouragement for all is that being excellent – and giving God glory – is possible whether you got an A1 or an F9.

REMEMBER TO LOOK BEYOND YOURSELF

This will mostly apply to the folks who identified with “Good” or “Not as good as I wanted”. Whether you did well or not as well as you wanted, it helps to be sensitive to others around you.

This is especially true when your group of friends or spiritual community (cell group, for example) are all around the same age. In such circles, grades or applications to higher institutes of learning can quickly become the centre of conversations in certain seasons.

Remember that not everyone will have the choices you do.

Some of your friends may have received results that were not as good as yours and now find their future academic prospects limited. Conversations may draw comparisons and bring up a lot of disappointment, shame and hurt.

Be someone who is empathetic to these factors in your conversations. If there is space to do so, check in on your quieter friends personally – just be aware of your level of friendship before asking or giving advice.

When facing failure or disappointment, sometimes what we really need is a brother or sister to lean on. God can enable you to be that shoulder for someone, regardless of how you did.

You’ll see that all roads in the handy little flowchart in this article ultimately point to one end. 

The glory of God.

Life becomes very liberating when you make God’s glory the end goal of every activity and relationship you are a part of.

Done well? You can go on to glorify God with your excellent results and testify of how He helped you.

Wish you did better? You have room to glorify God with a work ethic that exemplifies Christlikeness.

Did poorly? You can glorify God with your response to failure and your trust in His promises.

There are decisions in the coming days that we must be steward well.

May we make choices to give thanks, to honour God and to tell others of His goodness — regardless of our grades or stations in life.

THINK + TALK 

  1. Regardless of how you did, what can you be thankful for?
  2. Looking back on your life, how have you seen God’s hand guiding you on your path? 
  3. What dreams do you have for your future? Are you able to surrender them to God?
  4. Is there someone you can encourage today? Check in with them and send them a reminder from God’s word! 
About the author

Gabriel Ong

Gabriel isn't a hipster, but he loves his beard and coffee. In his spare time, he'd rather be on a mountain.