Thousands of pupils across the UAE received their A-level and IGCSE results on Thursday and many rejoiced at securing places at their first-choice universities.
After two years of teacher-assessed grades, given as exams could not be held during the Covid-19 pandemic, pupils were able to sit them in person in May.
Pupils received lower A-level grades this year compared with the past two years, official figures showed on Thursday.
For Muneeb Alvi, 18, a pupil at Pristine Private School in Dubai, it was a day of celebrations as he achieved the three A* grades in physics, chemistry and mathematics he required to attend New York University Abu Dhabi on a full scholarship.
The Pakistani will be studying computer science with a minor in mathematics.
“A lot of my friends got unsatisfactory results,” he said. “But I had my predicted grades, and they were three A* as well.
“I had already applied to university in October as they had an early admission process and had a conditional acceptance offer and I needed to maintain these grades.
“I was pretty happy with my grades. When I gave the exams, I knew kind of that I did the best I could.
“With some of my friends, I know that they put in a lot of effort and they were pretty confident once they came out of the exam hall that they would get a good grade and the complete opposite has happened.”
Delighted teen is Bristol bound
Isabelle Darling, an Australian 18-year-old, was ecstatic after getting an A* in English literature, an A* in psychology and an A in biology. The pupil will be studying law at Bristol University in the UK in the autumn.
“I'm ecstatic, to be honest. I went through about I think 15 different emotions. I was very, very nervous beforehand and did not know what to expect,” said the pupil at British School Al Khubairat in Abu Dhabi.
“I thought I'd done well and was happy with how my exams had gone … but obviously hearing everything around it I started to doubt things and was thinking about clearing choices when results.
“I actually cried. I was so overwhelmed at getting into Bristol University which was my top choice. It's just kind of crazy for me to think that this is actually happening. I'm so excited.”
The pupil said that after getting her results she felt like a weight had lifted off her shoulders.
Top marks lead to London
Ahmed Mohamed, 18, a Sudanese pupil at British School Al Khubairat, will be pursuing a degree in medicine at Imperial College London. The pupil achieved an A* and three As.
He needed an A* and three As to get into university and was just able to get his spot at the university, though his predicted scores were two A* grades and two As.
“I still got in to my university of first choice, I can't really complain. I am still happy,” he said.
“I've spoken to all my friends, from what I've been hearing. I don't know if this is just because we're the year right after last year when they didn't have exams or anything but I've been hearing they [the exam boards] have been a bit harsh this year.”
The pupil hopes to specialise in paediatrics.
Hard work pays off for Ukrainian pupil
Kateryna Golovko, 18, a Ukrainian pupil at Gems Metropole School, achieved two A* grades and two As and will be studying medicine at First Faculty of Medicine Charles University in Prague. The pupil was predicted to get four A* grades but was happy with her scores.
“I feel so amazing and grateful because all the nights when I studied and the stressful times that I had to live through paid off in the end,” said the teenager.
“I think the results were consistent and it's even better than what I hoped for, especially in chemistry.”
Julia Medeiros, a pupil from Brazil at Gems Metropole School, said she was extremely excited as she had managed to get an A in biology.
“I worked really hard for it and I am very, very, very happy,” said the 17-year-old.
“I am satisfied with most of my grades. I didn't get into a university yet. I'm planning to go to Brazil to study agricultural engineering and have to do a national exam to get into the university.”
Tears of joy as Oxford awaits
Ashna Chaturvedi, an 18-year-old Indian at Brighton College Abu Dhabi, will be heading to Oxford University to study law after earning four A* in biology, chemistry, mathematics and economics.
“I was extremely shocked. When I saw the grades, I just screamed, and then I started crying I was predicted three A *and one A, so I actually exceeded my predicted grades,” said the pupil, who aims to become a solicitor.
“These were our first public exams ever. Based on how the exams went, I really didn't think that I would get these grades, I thought I would get two A and two B.
“Every single day that I woke up the past week, the first thing I would do was check the news and see the media coverage and every single morning it would be a headline saying something like be prepared to be disappointed or lowest grades ever… it was, it was definitely very scary for myself and for many of my peers.”