UAE pupils get good International A-level and IGCSE results despite months of online study

The exams were held in early 2021 and the final grades can be used for university placements

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Thousands of pupils in the UAE celebrated their success after receiving their International A-level and IGCSE results on Thursday.

Children sat these exams in early 2021 and their final International A-levels and AS-level grades can be used for university placements.

While the UK government cancelled GCSEs and A-level exams in 2021 because of the pandemic, some international boards conducted modular exams in January for IGCSEs and international A-levels – the global equivalent of UK curriculum exams.

IGCSE is equivalent to the GCSE qualification, which is taken by pupils in Years 10 and 11.

Some pupils have been in distance learning for a year and have managed to get great results

An A-level is a qualification offered across several subjects to pupils in Years 12 and 13.

With modular courses, pupils can re-sit some of the modules if they fail to obtain good grades and the results do not influence the final results.

Pearson Edexcel and Oxford AQA, two major UK exam boards, cancelled A-level and international GCSE tests this summer.

At Gems Cambridge International School in Abu Dhabi, 269 pupils received either final grades or modular results.

At the school, 145 pupils sat the Year 11 IGCSE maths exam and 87 per cent received grades between nine and four.

For Year 13 psychology pupils, 75 per cent secured grades A or B in International AS and A-levels.

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, March 3, 2021.  Pupils receive some of their IGCSE and International A-level results for January session 2021. Pupils celebrating after recieving receiving results.
Victor Besa / The National
Section:  NA
Reporter:  Anam Rizvi

“I am very happy with the mathematics grades achieved by the pupils," said Kelvin Hornsby, principal at the Gems Cambridge International School.

“Some pupils have been in distance learning for a year and have managed to get great results.

“These grades give the teachers a wealth of externally validated evidence."

Pupils also took tests in International A-level biology, chemistry, physics, Arabic and English literature.

Those who sit IGCSEs and international A-levels are assessed throughout the year instead of taking one major exam in the summer.

This differs from the typical UK model, in which the main test is taken in summer.

International A-level pupils receive grades on a scale from A* (highest) to E (minimum required performance) and IGCSEs are graded from nine to one around the world.

At Al Yasmina Academy in Abu Dhabi, 70 pupils received their final results for IGCSE maths and 35 got their International AS-level grades.

"I am really happy after getting a score of nine in my IGCSE mathematics. This is the only exam I will be able to sit this year," said Jad Yacoub, a 15-year-old Year 11 pupil.

He scored 176 out of 200 in his maths exam.

"It feels great. Now, I can focus on my science subjects as I want to study medicine," he said.

"We are already celebrating and I will have a treat later today."

Jared Nolan, principal at Al Yasmina Academy, said pupils had their lives turned upside down by the pandemic but had the confidence to sit their exams.

For the IGCSE maths exam, 42 per cent of grades at the school were between eight and nine.

All year 13 pupils received grades form A* to B in the international A-level in biology.

Sixty-seven per cent of pupils who sat the chemistry and physics International A-level exams achieved grades from A* to B.

"To get these grades under the circumstances is incredible," Mr Nolan said.

"It’s a massive thumbs-up to families who have supported pupils."

Farah Hammad, a 16-year-old pupil at Cambridge International School, was ecstatic after she earned As in biology, chemistry, Arabic and maths in International AS-levels.

Her Arabic grades were final, while others were based on modular tests.

"It feels good knowing I worked so hard and achieved a good grade. I am definitely going to celebrate," she said.

"I was so scared because I did not know what to expect. I have never sat a board exam let alone A-level exams.

"It was hard work but it paid off."

She was unable to sit her GCSEs last year because exams were cancelled.

She said exams were a quintessential part of school life and she was glad to sit her tests.

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