ABU DHABI // Determination, regular revision and charting out time for triathlon training helped one Abu Dhabi student achieve high grades in the GCSE examinations.
Training in swimming, running and cycling while focusing on studying helped Amber Harding, 16, of Al Yasmina Academy, handle exam pressure.
“It’s definitely a rewarding feeling to know that your hard work paid off,” said Amber, who scored seven A* and three As in subjects including psychology, sciences, Spanish, maths and English this year, adding to her A*/A from last year.
“I’d swim in the morning, go to school and when I got back home I’d do a few hours of revision and, if I could fit it in, go out and train to take my mind off exams,” said Amber, who won the sprint category in the TriYas competition this year.
“The results are a weight off my shoulders but when the academic year kicks in, it will back on overdrive.”
Aiming for a career in medicine, possibly pathology, Amber will stay on at the school for her A Levels, taking on science-based subjects along with psychology and maths.
Her advice to students is thorough preparation by marking out revision schedules and taking past examination papers.
“Just make sure you have your notes and you start making revision material around December at the latest because if you have the stuff ready, then you can pick it up and look over the material,” she said.
“Also use past papers because that is the key to everything.”
Her mother, Rachel, praised the school for organising extra lessons, group sessions and teaching the students techniques to handle exam stress.
“The school has been extremely supportive and teachers had an open-door policy, so students could go and discuss anything they may have had issues with,” said Mrs Harding.
Describing the eldest of her three children as diligent, she said Amber was a committed student and triathlete who also fitted in volunteer work at the Emirates Park Zoo in the capital.
“I know I’m a bit biased but she has worked very hard at everything and she deserves what she has achieved,” Mrs Harding said.
“She has prepared for two years, followed the guidelines given to her, was very organised and that has shone through with the results.”
Doireann McIntyre also scored highly in her exams.
The Yasmina School pupil walked away with A* in nine subjects: English literature, English, French, information communication technology, geography, biology, chemistry, physics and maths.
She also achieved As in business studies and further pure maths.
“Eight weeks is a long time to wait for your results, you can build up all sorts of scenarios,” said the very relieved 16-year-old. “I was very nervous last night and had a bit of trouble sleeping but I made sure my mum and dad were with me when I got the results.”
Doireann, who has lived in Abu Dhabi for six years, said she was “absolutely delighted with the results”.
“When you’re done with the exams you’re relieved but then you start getting nervous about the results,” she said.
“I went back home to Dublin which helped take my mind off it.”
Her next step will be A Levels then, she hoped, university in Ireland.
“I’m thinking of doing maths, chemistry, physics and biology for my A Levels then moving on to study chemical engineering in a university in Dublin.”
When asked if she would make a fuss about her results with her friends, she said: “Maybe.”
Laith Najim, 17, a Canadian student at Al Bateen Academy in Abu Dhabi, put his six A*s and four As down to hard work and dedication.
“Every day I worked with my teachers and had constant support from them and always focused on my weaknesses and improved them,” he said.
“At home every day, I spent hours on the class papers and focused on questions that I did wrong. Next morning I went back to my teachers and clarified them.”
He also spent four to five hours revising for exams each day.
Another pupil from the same school, Layan Wadi, 16, a Palestinian, gained four A*s and four As.
“I studied every exam differently. The method I used was to post notes all around my room’s walls so I kept seeing information when I am in the room.”
“The second method which I used most was the flash cards, which I prepared myself.”