DUBAI // Nikita Keswani, who nervously played with her hair while queuing to get her A-level results today, was just one of many pupils across the country waiting to find out how they fared.
The 18-year-old Indian student at Jumeirah College in Dubai jumped into her mother's arms when she found out she had achieved two A*s, an A, and a B.
"I've been nervous all summer for this," she said, as her parents shed tears of joy. "I'm so thrilled and happy that all the hard work and months of revision paid off."
Nikita will head to the University of Birmingham in October to study medicine.
"I'm really excited because medicine has been my dream since I was a kid, and I finally made it," she said.
"This year, the grade boundaries went up really high for Edexcel, so exam papers were harder and they were more different than I've ever seen them before. But I can't wait to start university."
Emma Langley, an 18-year-old Briton, rejoiced at her results.
"I got three As and I plan on going to Southampton University to study midwifery," she said. "It was ridiculously hard to secure a place because there were 1,000 people applying and only 23 applicants got it, so it was very challenging."
Results for schools in the UAE showed an upwards trend, with many schools achieving a 100 per cent pass rate.
All of the 113 Jumeirah College pupils who sat their A levels passed.
This year, 44 per cent of their grades were between A and A*, up from 30 per cent last year and from 40 per cent in previous years.
"These are our best examination results ever, so we are really excited – we are over the moon," said Fiona Cottam, the principal.
"We've always hoped for outstanding results for the students but I think, emotionally, we are absolutely thrilled to pieces for the students in terms of their successes and where they are now moving on to university."
The British School Al Khubairat in Abu Dhabi also reported improved results compared with last year, with almost 90 per cent of grades awarded between A* and C, up from 87 per cent.
Results in subjects that showed the biggest increase, in terms of A* and A passes, included economics, at 73 per cent, English at 56 per cent and chemistry at 45 per cent.
"I am thrilled by these results," said Helen Greene, the school's head of sixth form.
"I am especially pleased that the majority of our students have secured their first-choice places at UK universities, as well as at leading universities in the US, Canada and Abu Dhabi."
Jingwen Dai, a Chinese pupil, was one of the top performers at the British School Al Khubairat, achieving two A*s and two As.
"I was quite surprised but really happy," said Jingwen, who will study land economy at Cambridge University. "It was very difficult.
"The process is very tough because you're up against some of the best people in the world, but our school helped us a lot."
Dubai British School also broke records, with 33 per cent of pupils achieving A*s and As, up from 24 per cent last year.
"We are absolutely delighted with the results," said Tanya Drew, the school's head of secondary. "Over 80 per cent of grades are level A* to C, so we feel there will be very happy people out there."
Most of their pupils will attend universities in the UK, US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
Tamer Hijaz, a 19-year-old Polish-Palestinian, was one of the top pupils, with two A*s and an A.
"I got better than I expected," he said. "I plan on going to Leeds University to study chemical engineering."