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Last Updated: Thursday, 10 June, 2004, 12:49 GMT 13:49 UK
Hoping to make the grade
Hundreds of thousands of people are currently taking their A-levels in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

BBC News is following the fortunes of three very different students.

PRIVATE SCHOOL STUDENT
Karen Bosch

Karen Bosch, Bancroft's School, Essex

Taking A-levels in biology, chemistry and German.

Wants to study medicine at university - parents are both anaesthetists. Is predicted to get three A grades.

Although Karen is concerned about the costs of higher education, she thinks the plans for variable fees are reasonable and is not deterred by the prospect of a long medical degree.

"I have to get an A and two Bs, so it's going to be a lot of revision time between now and the exams, and I think it'll be a lot of pressure up to the exams.

"But if I'm well prepared and I go into the exam well prepared and I feel confident, it should be fine."

STATE SCHOOL STUDENT
David Meggison

David Meggison, Blyth Community College, Northumberland

Taking A-levels in art, electronics and maths.

Wants to study electronics at Northumbria University, for which he needs B, C and D grades.

Father is a roofer and mother a secretary, and he would be the first in his family to go into higher education.

Some of his friends have failed their exams. He thinks he will get the grades but is worried about art, his toughest subject. Friends and music are distractions.

"I can get sidetracked quite easily. I tend to cram a lot at the end. It's probably not the best way to do it.

"My first exam is a maths exam. I'm quite confident with that, I've done enough revision.

"My electronics exam, I'm very confident with that. There's a lot of practical-based so it's easier to see it with visual aids and things like that. It's my art exam I'm more worried about though."

MATURE STUDENT
Estelle Buller

Estelle Buller, Norwich City College (FE)

Taking biology and psychology in evening classes.

Would like at least a B in biology to get into the ambulance service.

Wants to set a good example for her daughter, Holly. And since her husband had an accident, needs a full-time job.

Did not enjoy school but now, aged 30, has the motivation. Does not think A-levels are easier but that students work harder.

"I'm absolutely determined to get where I want to go.

"I want to show Holly that if you work hard you can get somewhere, and I want our family to have a better life, I suppose, in the long run."


BBC News will be returning to these three on results day in August to see how they got on.



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