A* in A level Chemistry with NEC leads to degree at the University of Cambridge Thursday, 20 August 2020

Laura studied A level Chemistry with NEC and achieved an A* grade. Laura is now going to study Natural Sciences at Hughes Hall, University of Cambridge. 

Laura is a twenty-seven year old student, living in Scotland. Laura has always loved the natural beauty of the world and dreams of being a field researcher in evolutionary and environmental biology. A few years ago, Laura had successfully studied an Open University module on earthquakes, volcanoes and tsunamis so she knew that online distance learning was a solution that worked for her. 

“It offered the flexibility that I needed.” 

Laura has spent a large part of the last five years in hospital and recovering at home. However, her passion for natural sciences never waned and she is as determined as ever to gain the qualifications she needed to pursue a career in ecology. While she was unwell, Laura recognised that she had a rare drive to keep going and persevere through adversity to reach her goals. 

“It can be tough fitting in work with studying but with enough commitment, there is always time to fit in some studying.” 

Laura was very busy throughout her time studying with NEC, working freelance in the events industry, studying two biology modules with the Open University, a fourth maths Higher in Scotland and fitting in some of her hobby, climbing, and continuing to struggle with her health problems. Online distance learning meant that Laura was able to manage her time properly and work in a flexible way that fitted her lifestyle. Laura had an “excellent” relationship with her tutor, who supported her with feedback and guidance throughout her independent learning journey. 

“Laura’s passion for chemistry and science in general came through in her desire to see chemistry in a societal context – and to dig deeper.  Virtually every chemistry course in Europe looks at the Haber Process: Laura was moved to know about the tragedy of Fritz Haber’s life and its effect on Germany. Few students want to know but Laura was different.” – Harry Pearson, Laura’s Chemistry tutor

After the summer series of exams was cancelled, Laura’s NEC tutor, Harry, assigned her a Centre Assessment Grade of A*, reflecting her clear passion, hard work and high attainment in previous assignments. During the grade moderation process, Laura’s grade was unfairly downgraded to a B. NEC, among many other schools and colleges, immediately began appealing the decision and worked tirelessly to achieve a fair outcome for our students. The government U-turn on Monday means that our students will be awarded their Centre Assessment Grade, a true reflection of their abilities. Many of our students, like Laura, overcome a lot of adversity to get to where they are today. We are glad that all their hard work and dedication is being recognised in their grades, even if it has come too late for some as their university course may already be full.

After finishing my A level chemistry along with Higher maths and both my Open University courses, I am very VERY excited to have achieved and even overshot the conditions for my offer to study the NatSci Tripos at Cambridge. I will be studying a beautiful variety of earth, ecological, environmental and material sciences which I can’t wait for!” 

Laura’s NEC tutor was shocked at the initial downgrade in her result so he immediately made contact with the admissions tutor at Hughes Hall, Cambridge, and explained what an amazing student they would miss out on if Laura was rejected. This wonderful reference and the strong impression that Laura had made at her interview meant that Laura was accepted to read Natural Sciences before her grade was revised. After her A* was reinstated, Laura has actually achieved higher grades than the terms of her offer and is very excited to start in October. Laura’s success is testament to her enduring passion for the natural world and drive to reach her goal no matter what. 

“Make sure you are committed to studying and have drive, make yourself lots of goals and remember to congratulate yourself on the hard work you are putting in.” 

That final piece of advice is so important, so we send a huge congratulations to Laura for all her hard work and wish you luck at the University of Cambridge!

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