A-Level results 2021: pride and joy as UAE pupils earn record results in challenging year

Pupils have been awarded teacher-assessed grades as exams were cancelled due to Covid-19

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Thousands of pupils in the UAE have received their A-Level results, with many schools reporting record results, particularly in maths and science.

This year, unlike in 2020 when an algorithm was used, teacher-assessed grades will be given, verified by exam boards.

There have been concerns grades might be inflated, with UAE school heads echoing these fears. But school leaders stressed pupils had again risen to the challenge of the pandemic, which has disrupted the academic year once more.

At Brighton College Al Ain many pupils excelled in science and maths.

Forty-seven per cent of exams resulted in an A* grade, with 75 per cent A* to A and 90 per cent A* to B.

Girls thrive after 'difficult year' for learners

Dr Kenneth Greig, headmaster of Brighton College Al Ain, said: “This has been another extremely difficult year for our pupils with the changes to examinations due to the pandemic, but I’m so pleased that the awarding bodies have placed their trust in centre assessed grades.

“I am particularly pleased to see that so many girls have achieved top results in the sciences and mathematics. As a scientist myself, it is wonderful to see young women choosing careers in these areas.”

Brighton College pupil Dania Al Hashimi achieved four A* in maths, chemistry, biology and Spanish, and will be taking a gap year before applying to study medicine in the UK.

Ghalia Alsayed, another pupil at the school, achieved three A* in computing science, maths and chemistry, and is heading to University College London to study computer science.

Cambridge beckons for high achiever

Saleh Busaibe, a 19-year-old Emirati pupil at Brighton College Abu Dhabi, scored two A* grades in maths and economics, and an A in further mathematics to meet his offer conditions at Trinity College, Cambridge.

"I was really excited to get these results,” he said. I would have preferred to sit the exams and have the chance to prove myself. But the system this year was much better than last year."

The year 13 pupil said he was nervous on results day.

"It’s a huge relief as I have been able to confirm my offer. It has been a dream of mine for several years to study at University of Cambridge.

“I am just looking forward to being there and being able to travel."

He is keen to embrace the university's rich history in the sport of rowing and make the most of college life.

Anxious wait gives way to delight

Sama Salman, an 18-year-old British pupil at Brighton College Abu Dhabi, booked her place at Bristol University to study medicine thanks to an A* in biology and As in mathematics and chemistry.

“I was quite nervous, and was very happy when I saw my results," she said.

The pupil has suffered chronic migraines for the past five years, which often made it difficult to study.

"A lot of the time, I would lay in bed and rest when having a migraine. I would have to work twice as hard later to make up for lost time."

She had reservations about teacher assessed grading but felt the system was managed well.

London calling for star pupil

Atharv Naik, 19, an Indian year 13 pupil at Gems Cambridge International School Dubai scored five A* in maths, physics, chemistry, biology and further mathematics.

“I was hoping to get all A* but it was very exciting to get my results,” said Atharv.

He will be travelling to the UK to start his combined degree in engineering at Imperial College London.

“Now, I am waiting for university to start and I am excited to travel to London," he said.

“I am excited to meet people at the university and be part of the community.”

He is also hoping to compete in sports and chess.

Greeshma Giridas, an 18-year-old pupil at Gems Cambridge International, earned four A* grades in maths, chemistry, biology and psychology.

Greeshma's efforts secured her a scholarship to pursue her bachelors in psychology at New York University Abu Dhabi from September.

Gems learners shine as top grades soar

Gems Metropole School in Motor City, Dubai, had 42 A-Level class pupils and 123 entries, of which 20 per cent scored A* and 41 per cent earned A* to A.

Principal Nav Iqbal said this year was the school’s strongest A-Level performance.

He said the standout subjects were chemistry, drama, art and economics, and he had an increase in the number of A* to A grades, especially in maths (up 48 per cent) and chemistry (up 29 per cent).

At The British School Al Khubairat, 98 year 13 pupils undertook 269 A-Level subjects and 19 Level Three BTEC diplomas.

At the school, 58 per cent of A-Level results were A* to A and 82 per cent were A* to B.

In BTEC, 76 per cent of the grades were at a distinction level and 24 per cent at an A level.

Pupils will be attending Imperial College, University College London, Durham University, The University of Edinburgh, Stanford University, and New York University Abu Dhabi in September.


Mark Leppard, headmaster at The British School Al Khubairat in Abu Dhabi, was delighted all the hard work was rewarded.

"This has been a sixth form experience like no other, with much of what students have come to take for granted taken away from them overnight; and it is therefore only right to be incredibly proud of the results achieved," he said.

"There has been a grade inflation and the explanation is that for borderline pupils, the teachers will be asked if the pupil would achieve an A or a B for example."

Aldar Academies in Abu Dhabi announced its highest A-Level results, with a 100 per cent pass rate and nearly 50 per cent of grades awarded achieving A* to A across all subjects.

Al Yasmina Academy, also in the capital, recorded its highest A-Level results, with 48 per cent of grades awarded at A* to A, and more than 77 per cent at A* to B, while Al Ain Academy achieved 59 per cent of grades A* to A.

Al Ain Academy achieved 59 per cent of grades at A* to A.

Updated: August 10, 2021, 1:02 PM