How Do I Persuade My Teachers to Give Me Better Predicted Grades?
AS Results Day was one of the worst days of my life. I knew that I’d screwed up, but I didn’t realise by how much; until the Ds and Us were staring me in the face.
I immediately knew that my predicted grades wouldn’t be good enough to get me into UCL. There’s no way that Ds and Us were acceptable at the most prestigious red-brick research uni in the country.
The future I’d carved into my mind was dissolving like sawdust in the wind.
I wallowed in a den of my own self-pity for a couple of weeks.
And then I pulled myself together.
Getting Back On My Feet
I knew what I had to do – and sitting around in my darkened bedroom, listening to Funeral For A Friend, was not the way ahead.
I had to improve what I knew were going to be bad predicted grades. I had to convince my teachers that I was worthy of the top marks.
But how do you convince your teachers that you can go from car-crash grades to top-notch in one year?
I know I have my charms and all that – but just asking for higher A-level predicted grades wasn’t going to work.
I knew that I would have to demonstrate that I had changed and that those rubbish grades had galvanised a new me: a me who could get As.
The dream was not lost. If anything, this made me more determined.
I reflected on my year 12 performance. I knew that I’d drifted through – assuming that I’d be able to coast through my A levels as I did for my GCSEs.
But A-levels, it seems, are a different beast.
I thought about what I knew, the questions I’d answered during my exams, and the general quality of my coursework so far.
And I knew that I’d represented myself really badly.
I could do this. If I worked hard enough, I would get my place at UCL.
I did LOADS of reading in the summer between years 12 and 13.
But this wasn’t Harry Potter and Twilight. I scoured the net for revision tips because I knew that I had the knowledge to pass the exams, but my performance had let me down.
I figured that the best way to convince my teachers to raise my bad predicted grades would be to go to them with a plan.
So, I learned how to plan my time, how to vary my revision approaches, and how to prioritise what I studied; tackling the most challenging stuff first.
I put together my 3-step plan, created a mini-presentation, and got my head into persuasion mode. Nothing was going to stop me now.
Convincing My Teachers
I’d love to say that this was easy. But on my first attempt – even with my brilliant 3-step plan – no-one was prepared to improve my awful predicted grades.
So, I thought to myself, “How do teachers predict A-Level grades? How do they calculate them?”
I did a bit of searching online, and I even asked a couple of teachers at my college who taught different subjects.
They were actually really helpful.
They explained that all teachers want their students to do well, but the reputation of the 6th form or college is on the line.
If teachers give sky-high predicted grades every year, then universities begin to question the quality of the students the college sends their way. They hand out uni places based on predicted grades, but if students don’t get those grades, the whole interview process goes down the drain.
It turns out that teachers calculate predicted grades based on performance at year 12, but they also use their professional judgement to assess a student’s attitude to their work and their commitment to the course.
And that was the significant bit – all teachers want their students to do well. If you can demonstrate that you’re prepared to knuckle down, maybe even resit the exam unofficially to show how you CAN perform, then they might just change their minds.
So, I went back to the drawing board, got together my bullet-proof revision plan, and looked each teacher in the eye while I explained what I wanted to achieve and how I was going to do it.
I told them: “I want to go to UCL. I know that I messed up last year. It’s made me reevaluate EVERYTHING. These are the grades I need, and this is how I’m going to work my behind off to get them.”
I showed my revision plans and my layered learning timetable (Chapter 8, How To ACE Your A-Levels), and demonstrated that I’d already started studying harder than I had last year.
I showed how my failure from last year had shaped my priorities, and I told them how I was studying to get ahead of the exams.
There was still some hesitancy.
But I persevered – convincing them that I absolutely would not let them down.
I told them, “I’m going to do this. I’m going to get my grades. I’m going to go to UCL.”
Eventually, two of my teachers agreed to raise my predicted grades. Not to the A’s that I needed, but to B’s.
The other teacher refused; so I showed her a more detailed strategy on how I’d changed over the following weeks. And eventually, she also raised my predicted grade to a B.
So, I wasn’t quite where I needed to be. But it was better than the terrible grades they’d predicted previously. I wouldn’t have even got into playschool with grades like those.
Now I just had to achieve straight As.
Putting My Plan Into Action
Getting higher predicted grades was a good starting point, but they still didn’t meet the minimum grades I needed for UCL.
I did understand, however, the importance of my personal statement and my school reference. Perhaps these would be enough to persuade the admissions tutor that I had the determination to exceed my predicted grades.
I closed the chapter on the whole UCAS/predicted grades debacle and got down to business. Straight A’s was my aim – I might get in through clearing if I get them.
And if clearing didn’t work out, then I could take a gap year to get some experience and re-apply the following year.
I discovered it’s all very well to create this bullet-proof plan, but then the new series of “The End of the F*&$ing World” started. I LOVED series one, and I was so tempted to binge the entire series.
Hard as it was, I realised that sitting on the sofa for several hours was not going to get me my grades. But, from my reading, I also knew that all work and no play is no good, either.
So, I set up a little hard-work-reward cycle.
In my timetable, I’d already set up break times in between study sessions. So, I called some of my friends between studying.
I also came up with weird and wonderful ways to keep myself motivated while working.
I pinned a poster of the UCL campus map to my wall, so I could remind myself why I was doing this.
I discovered Pomodoros. It sounds like a pizza topping, but it’s actually this really cool way of arranging your study time.
The basic idea is that you work for 25 minutes and then take a 5-minute break.
You repeat that cycle three times, and after the fourth cycle, you take a more extended break: say 15 minutes.
I found that it helped me to stay focused because I knew that a break wasn’t far away. I spent my 5-minute breaks getting myself a drink or sitting outside in the fresh air, and my 15-minute break was spent back with James and Alyssa.
I found that Pomodoros gave me structure, helping me remain focused and motivated.
I even found a bunch of YouTube videos, so it felt like I was studying with a friend. My favourites were:
When I faltered
Occasionally, I got bored and found myself drifting. When this happened, I googled “Do universities accept lower grades?”
The answer was enough to get me back on track.
I discovered that SOME universities do accept lower grades, but it depends on the subject. For science-based subjects – the one that I was going for – there was NO way.
Competition is so fierce that unis can afford to be selective about who they accept.
And UCL was not going to drop their standards. So it was up to me to show them that I could meet their expectations.
Did It Work?
I managed to sustain my routine up until the exams started.
And, although I found it tough a lot of the time, I knew that I had my goal and that it was going to be worth it.
And with LOTS of hard work, I walked out of the school on August 14th with straight A’s.
In the end
I actually REALLY enjoyed year 13. I still went to some parties throughout the year, but they felt a bit lame in comparison with the types of parties we might have at uni.
I’m glad that I worked hard and turned around my fortunes. If I can do it, believe me – anyone can.
If your predicted grades are not good enough, do NOT give up.
Share Your Strategies
Are you struggling with your year 12 predicted grades? Maybe you’ve tried a different way of convincing your teachers to increase bad predicted grades?
Or perhaps you’ve got some other ways of improving your approach to studying and revising.
Use the Comments box below to share your ideas or even share your concerns.
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