When grades are not enoughcase histories

21st August 1998 at 01:00
Chris Johnston on those whose grades are not enough

Yal Heidari, 19, from Kent, (pictured right) got BBA in chemistry, biology and government and politics last year. She wanted to do medicine but did not receive an offer, so she decided to retake chemistry and biology at Abbey Tutorial College in Bayswater, London.

The prospect of another year's study was daunting, Yal admits, but she found the teachers were very supportive and helped to motivate her. Although the college was expensive - a term costs about Pounds 2,000 - she believes it was worth it. Yal gained two As and has been offered a place to read medicine at University College London.

Leo Smith, 22, is a testament to the benefits of a gap year. He had planned to take a year off after his A-levels before studying English and psychology at Cardiff University, but his results - an A for English, but a D for history and an N for German - scuppered those plans.

His initial reaction was "complete disbelief and panic". His plan was to take a crammer course for German and still have a year off, but cramming a language would have been very difficult.

Therefore, Leo spent a year retaking German, gaining a D. His final grades earned him a place in English and psychology at Roehampton Institute in London.

After his retake, Leo joined Quest Overseas and spent three months in Peru, working in an orphanage and going on mountain treks and white-water rafting.

Each member of the expedition took turns to lead the group, which Leo says gave him the leadership confidence that he lacked.

He is now working on a conservation project at Coventry Cathedral and is to take a mountain leaders' training course in Wales.

Chris Johnston

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