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Recovery after train breakdown stops examinee in tracks

Three Helpline users report their experiences of the information service to Joan Elrick. A broken-down train nearly derailed Stuart Nugent's future, but his own past record and some good advice have set him back on the tracks. Now the 17-year-old from the Gorbals in Glasgow is set to tackle a five-year computing course at Glasgow Caledonian University, despite the near-disaster which left him with a C in Higher computing.

"The train broke down and I was 20 minutes late for a one-and-a-half hour exam," he explains.

So despite getting an A in the prelim, Stuart was awarded a C, which he hopes will be upgraded on appeal.

The former Springburn Academy and Lanark Grammar pupil also gained an A in English and a B in geography, and he was determined that he did not want to stay on for a sixth year. "The results included a flyer about the Helpline. I phoned and they explained the points system and gave me a list of university courses and numbers. I was glad I phoned because I didn't know what my options were at that stage."

The choice was narrowed down to two, with Stuart deciding between a geography course at Aberdeen and his present course, which includes a paid year in industry.

Following Helpline advice, Stuart made direct contact with one of the computing course tutors, who was able to reassure him about entry despite the problem with the Higher result. "I know now that I'm doing exactly the right course," he says.

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