Dozens of pupils in the UAE received their Indian School Certificate results on Saturday, with some schools reporting record performances.
Gems Modern Academy's grade 12 cohort of 139 pupils achieved an average score of almost 94 per cent – the highest batch average the school has had in its 34-year history.
Grade 12 pupils at Ambassador School in Dubai recorded an average score of more than 91 per cent, a record for the school. Last year, the average grade there was just under 90 per cent.
This year, the Council for the Indian School Certificate Examinations cancelled exams for grade 10 and grade 12 pupils due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
In the absence of final examinations, pupils were awarded grades based on a number of parameters. These included the performance at the school in the past five years, project scores, mock examinations and in-person practical examinations.
The exams for grade 10 and grade 12 pupils are the Indian equivalent of GCSEs and A levels, respectively.
Many pupils were overjoyed after receiving their results on Saturday.
Varun Pethkar, 18, a pupil at Ambassador School in Dubai, set a record there after scoring 99.5 per cent in the ISC examinations with perfect scores in Physics, Chemistry and Biology.
“The news is yet to sink in,” said Varun.
“I was not expecting this.
“I do not believe in studying very long hours but when working I try to understand the concepts clearly.”
Focusing on mental health and staying positive was part of the pupil’s mantra for success.
Varun enjoyed playing online games during his hours away from books and also took part in Model United Nations sessions – an academic simulation of the UN where students take the role of delegates.
“Through the school year, pupils need to find what works best for them,” he said.
“They should try new methods of study and go through new experiences.”
He said understanding difficult concepts through online classes was a challenge pupils faced in the pandemic but teachers helped by giving them additional time and support.
Within a few weeks, the star pupil will be heading to Wichita State University in Kansas in the US to pursue his bachelor's degree in aerospace engineering.
“It will be a new chapter for me and I am very excited,” he said.
The space enthusiast aspires to work in designing and manufacturing space probes and vehicles.
Sheela Menon, head teacher at Ambassador School, said: “We are elated with the outstanding performance of our pupils who outperformed their previous batches.
“The consistency in record-breaking results for the last four years reflects the collaborative efforts of our pupils and teachers.
“We are very proud of all our pupils who have performed extremely well to achieve their individual targets, irrespective of the challenging times,” Ms Menon said.
Three 12th graders at Gems Modern Academy, Diya Bansal, Anushri Mittal and Medhansh Hinduja achieved scores of 99.5 per cent.
More than half the pupils at the school scored 95 per cent and above in the ISC examination – including 23 who achieved perfect scores in mathematics.
Nargish Khambatta, head teacher of Gems Modern Academy, described the results as “excellent".
“Every single child is a topper for having just gone through the year,” Ms Khambatta said.
“To put their performance in perspective, our children were thrust into distance and hybrid learning and assessments, vacillating from virtual simulations to real lab experiments, and yet everyone expected so much from the batch of 2020-21.
“Now that the results are out, our students can finally get on with their lives and seriously plan for their university sojourn.”
Pupils at the school have received acceptances at institutions including the University of Illinois and Cornell University in the US, and the UK's University College London.
Only a few schools in the UAE follow the Council for the Indian School Certificate Examinations. The majority of Indian institutions in the country follow the Central Board of Secondary Education.