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A-level results: Former Birchwood High School student Olivia Singh recalls her own results day

Olivia Singh, a university student from Bishop’s Stortford, recalls her A-level results day at Birchwood High School in 2021 – and has some advice for those collecting their results on Thursday...

On Thursday, A-level students are receiving their grades and decisions on whether they got a place at their choice of university.

Recalling my memories of doing A-levels in English language, English literature and media studies at Birchwood during the pandemic, as well as results day, I look back with joy and pleasure. I reassure students displeased about their results that they do have a bright future ahead, regardless of the grades they receive.

The year I did my A-levels, there were no official exams due to COVID, so I received teacher-assessed grades. I was particularly concerned about how to do my media coursework during the lockdown, which required certain software and guidance, and how to complete my coursework as well as I could without the initial in-person support I would have got. Across all my subjects, I was also concerned about how grade boundaries would be determined and the uncertainty results day would bring.

I did all I could, completing my coursework with the software I had used for previous projects, and along with the right guidance from my teacher, I received an A* on my media coursework.

The key thing to take away is that I tried to do everything possible to ensure I got the grades I wanted early on – and if you did the same, yet have received grades you weren’t expecting, you know that you gave it your all and have no cause for regret.

Olivia Singh on her last day at Birchwood High School in 2021
Olivia Singh on her last day at Birchwood High School in 2021

After all my coursework and internal exams were completed, I looked forward to results day knowing I had worked to the best of my ability to get the grades I wanted.

On the morning of results day, I received a text that I wasn’t expecting so early in the morning – it was from my first choice of university, Royal Holloway, University of London, contacting me to congratulate me that I had got a place on its English literature course.

Informing my parents, Bhagat and Ritu, that morning, their faces lit up and they hugged me and congratulated me. I was even happier seeing their happiness for me.

Having Indian parents, it’s a fact that they are happier for their children’s achievements even more than for their own.

I went to school to get my results with my parents, who always accompany me at my major life events, and was pleased that my work had paid off, including my EPQ (Extended Project Qualification) on abortion. I worked on my EPQ with limited guidance available during COVID, and it was the first ever qualification I worked independently towards at such a large scale. Receiving an A for my EPQ was significant to me due to the highly independent nature of navigating it. Having done well on my EPQ also put me in a good position for university studies, as self-directed learning is expected of students at university.

When I got home, I received a Starbucks delivery from my family friend, Shria Malik, who is more like my cousin, and she congratulated me on my achievements. She had guided me through the whole process of applying for universities and looking at my options, and was as eager as me to know my results and university place. Afterwards, my family took me to a restaurant in London, Hyderabadi Spice, where we continued our celebrations until the evening. My results day experience was pleasant, and I hope yours is too.

Though students may not receive the results they wanted or get into their first choice of university, there are many ways forward in life – and they may be ones you didn’t expect.

Often, a different outcome or choice can work to your benefit, and you will look back with delight over your beautiful experiences and how you wouldn’t trade them for anything else. I understand that my words may come off as cliché, but what I am saying to you is the reality I truly believe in. You may also find other passions later in life.

When I first came to Royal Holloway, I thought I would study just English literature, but now I am also studying politics and international relations. I never studied A-level politics but discovered a passion for it at university. You will find that one thing can lead to another, and if you’re truly determined to make your own path for your future, you will reach where you want to be.

My message to every student is to keep working towards your goals, no matter how far off they seem to be, and you will get there. I firmly believe in karma. After trying your best, what is meant to be in store for you in life will come to you.

Well done to those who’ve received their results today – you all have a lot to be proud of.

Olivia, 20, lives in Bishop’s Stortford with her father Bhagat, mother Ritu and brother Yash, 17, an A-level student at Leventhorpe School in Sawbridgeworth. She did her GCSEs at Herts and Essex High School and her A-levels at Birchwood. She is now studying English literature, politics and international relations at Royal Holloway, University of London in Egham, Surrey.

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