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GCSE Student Stories: Farran | GCSE Maths & Physics Review

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Despite his self-doubt, Farran chose to study his GCSE Maths and Physics online with us and found that he was pleasantly surprised with his success. Discover more about his story. 


At the beginning of 2017, I realised that I wasn’t going where I wanted to go in my life. I was in a rut, seemingly, with no direction out of it.

I had met my partner in November 2016 and we would spend hours talking about science and the universe.

Whilst I was in this low period of my life, he suggested that I would benefit from studying Physics at university. I told him the idea was preposterous as at school I had only gained one GCSE at grade C, and that was in English.

I had passed my Maths exams, but with a result of E and I didn’t feel anywhere near smart enough to be pursuing something like Physics, nor did I have the required grade to do so.

Eventually, I emailed the University of Leeds Physics department, who told me that the best way for me to study at university was to retake my GCSE in Maths and get a 4 or higher and then study an access course before applying to universities.

Months went by, with retaking GCSE Maths only an occasional conversation.

Finally, in October 2017, still feeling down about my direction in life, my partner once again encouraged me to consider university; only this time the idea stuck.


I don’t know if it was the excitement of pursuing something new or that I felt like I had nothing to lose - or both - but I finally decided to make a change in my life.


Researching companies and colleges with whom to study was a challenging and overwhelming experience.

I had to weigh up the balance between cost, the amount of time I was willing to dedicate to studying, as well as whether I wanted to study at a school or college or whether I wanted distance learning.

The advantages of learning at a college were that I was taught by someone face-to-face, with support readily available. However, I couldn’t necessarily commit to the times of learning, due to having to work.

The costs were also high, and I could not afford it without additional funding. So, I settled on distance learning and after much searching, I came across ICS Learn.


Not only could I pay the course costs in a way that was affordable, but I also had many of the features that I would expect from learning in a further education setting.


I had tutors on hand ready to help whenever I needed it, and I attended seminars online, where I could ask questions in real-time. Best of all, I could watch the seminars back and learn at my own pace.

Melissa, the teacher presenting the seminars, delivered the lessons in an informative and detailed way and for the first time in my life made maths enjoyable.

After a few months of studying, I booked my Maths and Physics GCSE exams, which spurred me on to study harder and ask more questions until I understood it.

Then in May 2018, I sat my first Physics and Maths exams.

Nothing really prepares you for it; you know you’ve studied and revised as best as you can, but there’s a constant noise in your head reminding you that you’re sitting your GCSEs again. It tells you that you didn’t do well last time, so why should now be any different?

Despite this, I walked confidently into the exam room and as I began I realised that there was no turning back now.


I opened the first page of the Physics exam to be greeted by questions about astrophysics and at that moment, I knew I was going to be fine.


Likewise, I felt like I excelled at my first Maths exam and I was unstoppable. It wasn’t all plain sailing however; I had a bumpy second exam and subsequent revision fatigue.

Still, I brought everything I had learned to the exam room and I pulled out all the stops for the final paper.

On results day, my partner and I got the bus towards the school where I sat my exams. I was wracked with nerves and I couldn’t stop biting my nails.

We walked in and I’m handed a small brown envelope. I didn’t open it right away, opting to find a quiet spot should I feel myself becoming emotional.

My mind was racing. All I could think about was the number and letter inside the brown envelope that will determine the next step in my life.

I opened it and pulled out the papers inside. Maths – grade 5, Physics –  grade C.


It took a moment for me to process what I was seeing but soon the euphoria of knowing that I got above my expectations hit me and I broke down in tears!


The first part of my journey is over, but greater challenges lay ahead. My next step will be studying an access course in Engineering before hopefully going onto university to study Astrophysics.

I started this process skeptically, with an inquiry to ICS Learn and a feeling that I was too stupid to give GCSEs another shot.

With frustration, tears, and ultimately determination and belief in my own abilities, I have been humbled and amazed by what I’ve achieved so far, and that gives me hope for whatever comes next.

I couldn’t have done this without the support of ICS Learn. The number of resources they gave me was staggering.

If you are reading this, unsure of whether ICS Learn is for you, it is my hope that my words have inspired you to give it a go.

You are capable of incredible things and the people at ICS Learn are the ones to guide you to the next step.



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