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Why Students Don't Perform Well

Government reports following the outcome of the last GCSE reveal that a large number of students in the United Kingdom are underperforming. Note the use of the word ‘underperform’ rather than fail.

It simply means to get grades that are below your ability or potential even if those grades meet the minimum requirement to pass the subject. It is easier to underperform than to fail. Outright failure requires a nonchalant attitude to studies that most students are sensible enough to avoid.

However underperformance requires just the barest effort you can safely put in to scale through. Thus, a lot of students get caught up in the frenzy of ensuring that they make a ‘C’ or a ‘Grade 4’ when they have the ability to do much better. Even teachers could be guilty of setting target grades for their pupils that do not define their true potential.


There are three main practices of GCSE underperformers:

01. They have major gaps in their subject knowledge: Underperformers foolishly believe that they can get away with not learning much until they get to the exam class. Then, they face a big block while trying to understand some concepts as would-be exam candidates because they have not fully grasped the basic concepts from their junior classes. They start trying to cram it all into their heads last minute. This of course paves the way for frustration, exam stress and brain blocks which lead to underachievement.                                          

02.They leave revision till very late: Underperformers are so over-confident in their abilities that they tend to put off revision till last minute. By not investing the necessary hours for thorough revision, they are left with only a partial memory of many things e.g. formulae, methods, names. They know just enough to secure a minimum grade but not enough to be the outstanding success they could have been.                                                                                 

03.They are unfamiliar with the language of the exam: Underperformers act like a naïve bride who is very eager to get married after only one or two chance meetings with her prospective husband! Most of them have never even seen a past paper at the start of their final year.How can they excel in the exam when they are unfamiliar with the words, question style and details expected?  with exam conditions, you are a lot less prone to exam stress during the real exam                               

Attending lessons and doing homework are in order, but there is a big difference between answering a question from a textbook and answering it from an actual past paper under timed conditions. Plus, if you’ve been practising with exam conditions, you are a lot less prone to exam stress during the real exam    


So, big question is, based on these habits explained above, are you an underperformer? Please, snap out of that mode straight away. Why settle for less when you can achieve more?

Here’s my advice to students who will be taking the GCSE exam this year:Try not to over-prioritise one subject or a part of one subject at the expense of others.

  • Do not undermine any gaps in your subject knowledge

  • Do not be over-confident

  • Do not limit your studying/revision to what you do in school.

I wish you all the very best as you prepare for your next exams

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