Page last updated at 12:04 GMT, Thursday, 20 August 2009 13:04 UK

Students' stories of exam success

Tens of thousands of A-level students have been receiving the news that will change the course of their lives. Some high-flying students are celebrating outstanding results. And as they tell the BBC News website, they will remember today for the rest of their lives:


Niall Thompson
Niall Thompson will study maths

Niall Thompson will leave home at the early age of 15 to study maths at Magdalene College, Cambridge.

Niall grew up in Mossley in Greater Manchester and will be the first person in his family to go to university. He was brought up by his mother, Bev.

Niall said: "She's more excited than me really, she's really chuffed. She was really pleased for me.

"It is just amazing. To know I have got proof that I have done enough is just amazing."

Niall was educated at a state school and gained four A grades in maths, further maths, statistics and physics - as well as a distinction in the tough Cambridge entrance exam.

Despite his obvious talent, Niall makes it clear that he still had to study hard at Ashton Sixth Form College in Tameside:

"There were seven-hour days at college most days and then I would go home and do another three or four hours", he said.

Niall shared lessons with students two years older, taking tests with classmates who would ask, 'Have I beaten Niall?'

He said: "I just want it to be normal, just go to Cambridge University.

"There will be no problems in terms of if I will be accepted the same as other students. But of course I won't be allowed to drink."


Amelia Al-Qazzaz
Amelia Al-Qazzaz was turned down by Oxford University

Amelia Al-Qazzaz was turned down by Oxford University despite her remarkable achievement of 10 A grades at A-level. Instead she will study physics at Imperial College, London.

The 18-year-old from Teesside excelled at biology, chemistry, French, further maths, sport and PE, to add to the top marks she already had in physics, maths, computing, business studies, and general studies.

She completed her GCSEs by the age of 14, achieving 13 passes at A or A*.

As well as excelling academically, Amelia was her school's sports captain and is good enough on the piano and violin to perform at public concerts.

She said: "I'm really pleased with my results. It's overwhelming. I took the first five A-levels at 16 but I didn't want to go to university then because I would miss out on the social side.

"I got some feedback from Oxford about why I didn't get in. They said I got an average mark in the University subject exam and I didn't interview very well.

"It may sound big headed but it's their loss really. But I think they can live without me.

"I would rather be at Imperial anyway. It's probably better than Oxford for science and I really want to live in London."

Amelia's headmaster at the independent Teesside High School, Tom Packer, said the school was very proud of her.

He said: "We are thrilled for Amelia. I have had the pleasure of teaching her and she really is an outstanding student.

"She'll go far in whatever she does."


George Weller
George Weller moved from a comprehensive to a public school

George Weller's journey to Cambridge University started at an East End comprehensive blighted by knife crime and continued via public school.

George, who is 18, was picked out in an experiment which took bright pupils from Kingsford Community School in Beckton, east London, to the sixth form at Brighton College in East Sussex.

After achieving grade As in all four of his A-levels at Brighton College, he will read natural sciences at Emmanuel College, Cambridge.

He said: "It's hard to tell if I would have got into Cambridge without coming here.

"But I think I probably would have done because my GCSEs were quite good."

After collecting his results, George said he had enjoyed swapping the inner city for the East Sussex coast to study biology, chemistry, maths and further maths.

"It's just been great here. It's been a fantastic two years and I have had lots of great experiences."

During George's time at Kingsford, three fellow pupils were murdered in knife crime. His mother and father are both unemployed.

He returned to his former school last month, where he told pupils his story and urged them to believe in themselves to achieve their ambitions.

Brighton College's headmaster Richard Cairns said: "We always knew that with encouragement, George would flourish.

"He is a popular and enthusiastic young man who will go far. With the right support, any child can achieve more than they ever thought."

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