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How to manage anxiety around pending grades

Here’s how to make the wait for final results a little easier
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SAMANTHA YAO/THE VARSITY
SAMANTHA YAO/THE VARSITY

As courses and final assessments wrap up, it is normal to gravitate toward ACORN and repeatedly refresh your Academic History page to see your final grades. Unfortunately, this can lead to feelings of anxiety and impatience as we begin to constantly wonder about when the letters ‘IPR’ — meaning “in progress” — will transform into a letter grade.

While it can be tempting to constantly check ACORN and calculate your final grades based on how you think you did on your final assessments, you have to be mindful of not letting these thoughts consume you. It is important to focus on your well-being and to not be afraid to reach out for help. Try these strategies to help manage IPR grade anxiety as you wait to learn your final grades.

Limit how often you check your grades

Repeatedly checking to see if your grades have been released can contribute to more feelings of uncertainty. Following strategies that help limit how often you check in on your grades can help you manage these feelings.

One way to do this is by setting a particular time to log on to ACORN to check on your grades each day. Having a set time to check on your grades will allow you to structure your day productively and focus on your other tasks and responsibilities.

Do other things

If you feel the urge to repeatedly check ACORN, even after your scheduled log-on time, have a to-do list of tasks to refer to. Having a list of tasks on hand will help take your mind off of wanting to repeatedly check in on your grades.

Rather than work, you can also do things that make you happy. Watch that new TV show you have been meaning to watch, try baking, or pick up old hobbies. It can be easy to neglect self-care or enjoyable pastimes as you get caught up in the stress of waiting for your final grades. Maintaining a hobby and engaging in leisurely activities that you enjoy will allow you to relax and refocus your attention.

Manage recurring thoughts about final grades

Any feelings or anxieties that you have as you wait for your final grades are completely understandable and you should allow yourself to explore those feelings. However, having constant thoughts about this can also be very distracting and should be managed in productive ways.

You can reach out to your social support network and share what you are feeling about waiting to learn your final grades. Keeping your thoughts and feelings to yourself can build up and contribute to more feelings of anxiety. Talking about them out loud can help you better understand what you are feeling and understand them from a different perspective.

Another good idea is to write down your thoughts and feelings for a few minutes every day. Journaling is a great tool to better understand your thinking because it provides an outlet to identify recurring thoughts and practice positive self-talk. 

Reflect on your thoughts by asking yourself if they are based on hypotheticals and if there is evidence to back them up. This can help reframe your thought patterns into more productive thoughts that can help you cope with IPR grade anxiety in a more healthy way.

Practice mindfulness 

If you have periods during which you are particularly worried, you can practice mindfulness. Set a timer, close your eyes, and focus on what is on your mind. Instead of letting your mind wander freely, observe your feelings and anxieties without passing judgment. 

Trying to control and overthink your worries may lead to you getting stuck in a negative thought process. Observing your thoughts and working to maintain your thought process in the present can help you let go of these worries.