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Last Updated: Thursday, 19 August, 2004, 12:56 GMT 13:56 UK
Student given grades by videophone
Alexandra Cook
Alexandra Cook watched her mother opening the results on the videophone
While most A-level students were walking nervously into school to find out their results, Alexandra Cook was relaxing in Australia.

The 18 year old from Preston, Lancashire, found out she had got three A grades via videophone, while she stayed with her sister in Sydney.

Alex, who is going on to study classics at St Andrews University, said: "It was really weird. I had to watch my mum opening the results 12,000 miles away.

"But I thought it would be nice to share the moment with my whole family."

'Excited mum'

Alexandra, who studied Greek, Latin and French at Stoneyhurst College, Preston, recommends other students get away from the long and stressful build-up to results day.

She said: "With all the new technology available it's cool. Just a year or two ago you wouldn't have been able to see each other so clearly on the phone.

"My whole family is a bit technical and my mum loves using the phone, so it suited us all.

Bondi Beach, Sydney
Alexandra chose Bondi Beach, Sydney, over Preston, Lancs.

"I worked really hard and didn't think I'd do this well, but my mum was even more excited than I was."

Alexandra will spend a little more time touring Australia's east coast before heading back to the UK to start her degree course in September.

The educational journey has not been as smooth for all A-level successes.

Azim Ansari, 17-year-old Afghan asylum seeker, has secured a place to study engineering at St John's College, Oxford, after fleeing the Taleban in 2001.

He gained two As and a B in physics, maths and computing at the City of Bristol College, after juggling his studies with a part-time dish-washing job.

'Very hard'

But his celebrations were marred by worries that his visa would not be renewed by the Home Office.

He said: "If I stay here I will learn more and be able to help more people with my skills in the future."

The teenager left Afghanistan as he feared for his safety as the Taleban recruited young people to fight in the war following the September 11 attacks.

He had only a basic grasp of English when he arrived.

Azim said: "It was very hard as my English was not great. It was difficult understanding the teachers and the other students. I just studied as hard as I could whenever I wasn't working."

He does not know what happened to his parents after he left his home in the northern town of Polekhomri.

Twin results

An Oxford University spokesman said: "We value a diversity in the student body. We have a rigorous selection procedure which spots ability and potential, regardless of a student's background."

Azim hopes to work in international development.

Identical twins Bill and Joe Thorpe celebrated identical results - five A grades.

William Wheeler
William Wheeler admitted to being 'incredibly tired' at times

Bill and Joe, who attended King Edward VI Camp Hill School for Boys in Birmingham, both took economics, history, maths, further maths and general studies.

Although close, their paths will diverge shortly, with Bill off to Leeds University to study maths, while Joe opts for history at York.

They believe their competitiveness helps push each other to success, having both achieved 10 grade A GCSEs two years ago.

Meanwhile, Daniel Smith, from Romford, Essex, achieved six A grades.

The 18-year-old, who took his exams at the Coopers' Company and Coborn School in Upminster, said his ultimate ambition was to be a Conservative Cabinet minister.

His results were echoed by William Wheeler, 18, from Oxford, who got As in A-level Latin, Greek, history, English, maths and general studies.

He said he was going to read classics at Magdalen College, Oxford, in October.

A pupil at fee-paying Magdalen College School in the town, he said he had tried to remain "fairly relaxed" during the run-up to the exams, although admitted to being "incredibly tired" at times during his A-levels.


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