UAE: GCSE exam toppers highlight importance of studying regularly

Most UAE schools recorded better performances than last written exams in 2019

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Nasreen Abdulla

Published: Thu 25 Aug 2022, 6:40 PM

Last updated: Fri 26 Aug 2022, 9:20 AM

As UAE students put forth a stellar performance at the GCSE results, toppers of various schools highlighted the importance of studying regularly and staying calm.

Katie Meldrum, from Safa Community School, scored straight 9s in all 11 of her GCSE subjects admitted that it was hard to always stay positive in the run up to the exams. “There were a few tears shed and a lot of stressful situations conquered,” she chuckled.

“But persevered and I am so happy and grateful for my results. I revised a fair bit with flash cards, notes and practicing past papers.”

The British national said that there were several times when she struggled with her emotions. “For example, during the Math exam, there were some graph questions which were extremely difficult,” she said. “After the test, I was so worried about it, and I found it difficult to let go of it. Luckily, I was able to remain calm and focus on the remaining exams.”

This is the first time that students have written their GCSE exam since the Covid-19 pandemic. For the last two years, grades were issued based on teachers' assessments.

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Srija Suragouni from GEMS First Point School said the key to her success was paying attention in class. “I would always be fully focused on my class,” she said. “So, when the teacher explained concepts, I could understand it. Also, I spent an extra 5 minutes every day making detailed notes. Those were really helpful when I was revising for the exams.”

The 16-year-old admitted that she didn’t study every day. “I would go through my notes and concepts every week,” she said.

“I began revisions in earnest by around February. Sometimes it would be hard to remain motivated so long before the exams, but I was able to stay organized.”

The GCSE results from the UK are significantly lower than last year. However, most UAE schools have recorded better performances that their last written exams in 2019. “I am incredibly proud of all the students,” said Simon Jodrell, Principal of Jebel Ali School. “These students have faced so much uncertainty. They weren’t sure if they would write exams until the last minute. Yet, they have been so flexible, shown so much resilience and done themselves and their families proud.”

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Omar Al Azizi, one of the toppers from Brighton College Al Ain, said that studying early was the key to his success. “I started revising around February, reading through textbooks and making notes,” he said. “This helped me figure out my weaknesses. For example, my understanding in electrolysis in Chemistry was weak so I went to the teacher several times. I was pretty sure he would get sick of me, but he had so much patience and he kept explaining it until I understood it well enough.”

The Jordanian admitted that English was one of the subjects he struggled with. “I wasn’t much of a reader, so I had to work extra hard on the subject,” he said. “I would always advise everyone to read more and start preparing for their exams as early as possible to ensure success.”

Achievement came in many forms for UAE residents. For 12-year-old Lara Devi Saigal, it came in the form of a grade A in GCSE Computer Science. In the last two years, the Grade 9 student has scored A* in GCSEs in Statistics and Mathematics.

She has been a member of the UK High IQ society “MENSA” since age 4 and also been a scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth , USA from the age of 8 where she has received High Honors in Maths. “We are extremely proud of her,” said her father, Rajiv Saigal. “She does a host of other activities including debating, horse riding, sailing, singing and skiing. The GCSEs is something she does in addition to her own schoolwork.”

Another Year 6 student at Dubai British School Jumeirah Park Omar Kilani achieved a A* in his Math GCSE paper. His mother Rula said that she was shocked when Omar approached her saying he wanted to write the GCSE paper two years ago. “I told him it was impossible,” she said. “But he was adamant.” Over the two years of COVID pandemic, he worked relentlessly to realize his goal.

For 16-year-old Kanishka Wagh, it was an emotionally turbulent year after she lost her father in November 2021 due to a cardiac arrest. Despite her difficulties, she scored 3A* and 4A. “It was genuinely a difficult time for me,” she said. “However, I just put my head down and just studied. Doing a lot of past practice papers really helped and I would advise everyone to do the same.”


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