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Last Updated: Thursday, 18 August 2005, 14:58 GMT 15:58 UK
Students count multiple A grades
Li Yan also has two AS-levels - grade A
The rising achievement in A-level exams has produced a crop of individual stellar success stories.

An 18-year-old student in London has accumulated 10 grade As.

Li Yan took maths when she was 16 and physics a year later, when she was living in Norwich.

She then studied biology, chemistry, economics and government and politics at City of London School for Girls, getting her results this year.

In her spare time she also taught herself further maths, statistics and general studies and, in just one month - for a challenge - law.

"I have always been really fortunate to have a memory that works in my favour," said Ms Yan, who was born in China and came to England when she was three.

She said her experiences at a less fortunate primary school in Leeds had made her all the more determined.

She said: "I started off life in England at quite a poor school.

"That stuck with me for life and it made me so much more socially aware. It made me want to take up every opportunity I was given."

She has been accepted to Trinity College in Cambridge to study natural sciences from September.

Competitive

At Colchester County High School for Girls in Essex, a total of 18 pupils each achieved five grade As.

Prescott triplets
Three heads were better than one for the Prescott triplets
In Durham triplets Katie, Alison and Helen Prescott acquired 10 A grades between them and now aim to go to university to study medicine.

The 18-year-olds said they had benefited from having three brains working on homework problems.

In Gloucestershire, identical twins Lydia and Caroline Chambers, 17, achieved five As each in the same subjects: maths, biology, physics, chemistry and general studies.

Both are now going to Cambridge University to study veterinary science.

'Bragging rights'

Lydia said she had always been competitive with her sister as they grew up.

"I'm absolutely amazed we got the same results but I'm so relieved," she said.

"Otherwise one of us would have had bragging rights over the other."

twins Sophie and Alexa Horner
Twins Sophie and Alexa Horner have nine A grades between them
Another pair of twins with five As is Henry and Ken Zhang, who studied at Bishop Vesey's Grammar School in Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands.

Wycombe High School in Buckinghamshire can boast two sets of successful twins - both called Sarah and Laura - who between them have 13 A grades.

In the case of the identical Blakey girls they were in identical subjects - biology, chemistry and sports science - and both are going on to study for degrees in the same subject, psychology - though at different universities.

Harveer Dev, from Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, is going to Cambridge - to study medicine - after getting six A grades in biology, chemistry, physics, maths, further maths and general studies.

His mother Sarinder, 43, a police officer, said: "There is nobody in my family that has achieved such a level of academic success. I am just so proud."

Scotch

Another intending medic is Oliver-James "O-J" Dyar, 18, who achieved no fewer than seven A grades at Magdalen College School in Oxford, where he is now going to go to university.

He is currently starring in a play he helped to write at Edinburgh's fringe festival.

"I'm flying back to Edinburgh later this morning as we've got a show this afternoon and a bed-time curfew of 11pm," he said.

"But I'll certainly be having a celebratory Scotch or two on the Royal Mile tonight."

Ilia Karmanov
Ilia studied economics for something to do
Jeremy Skinner, 18, from Knaphill near Woking, Surrey, went online to get his results from Farnborough Sixth Form College in Hampshire - using a program he wrote himself.

He got grade As in general studies, history, computing and law and an A grade in AS-level electronics.

He was also told that he had one of the best marks in the country for computing.

He said at least 900 other students at the college used his program to access their results.

Wigan Athletic reserves striker Michael Hazeldine scored As in A-level biology and chemistry and AS-level maths.

The 18-year-old, from Manchester, was released by the club for one-and-a-half days a week to study at Preston College.

One of this year's younger candidates was 14-year-old Ilia Karmanov, who achieved a grade B in economics - after studying for just seven months.

When he was 11, Ilia notched up a B in A-level computing at Ryde College, near Watford, Hertfordshire, where he also took his economics course.

He said he was really a keen sportsman and painter - economics was just something to fill his free time.

"The course was interesting. It was hard at times and boring at times but overall it was good."

LAST DIARY ENTRY

Student Amy Longsden wrote for the BBC News website about the trials of the exam season and - after a long wait - has finally got her results. She was very pleased.

I was up all night worrying about whether I had my place at Manchester University but I surpassed my grade offer of ABB to get AAB.

It was great to see everyone today - most of them with happy faces - after such a long time away from them.

We all congregated outside the school doors at 9am and rushed up the stairs as soon as we could, crowding around the table with the results and trying to find ours as quickly as possible.

They were not in envelopes so it was nice to not have to use my shaking hands for anything and just see straight away what I had got.

A few people were disappointed of course - especially with some of the French speaking marks being lower than expected - but hopefully these problems will be sorted out quickly by the exam board.

It is worrying when people who have been predicted A grades are barely reaching the level of a C, particularly when a similar situation occurred last year.

This week has been difficult as the papers were full of articles saying A-levels are "too easy" and "not worth anything", which made me feel annoyed at the level of ignorance about the large amount of work it requires to get a good grade.

As I read earlier, most often the only evidence people can give for A-levels becoming easier are their own memories of school, and everyone is going to remember Year 13 as bring a stressful time no matter how difficult their subjects truly were.

What is often forgotten is that in general, students are encouraged to take as many subjects as they feel capable of doing and drop their weakest subject when they move up to Year 13, giving them a better result overall.

Most people would be hard pushed to explain the AS/A2 system as it is now, and they should take the time to examine the system themselves before judging those who are inside it.

Like most of my friends, I will be setting off for my first choice university in September (or October, for some) and know I have worked hard to get there.

The stress of exam time and the waiting period afterwards is nothing compared to the happiness and relief we feel now!




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