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The secret to getting 9A*s

We interviewed Head Girl, Ella to find out how she is managing her new leadership role along with juggling 4 A-Levels plus an EPQ whilst pursuing her passion for ocean rowing, athletics and cross country!

The first thing that strikes you is how quiet and softly spoken Ella is and she already manages herself as an elegant young woman. She is humble and shy when she talks about her successes and is keen not to come across as boastful.

What did you get for your GCSEs? 9 A*s and 1 A and in 2 of those A* subjects, I received a best in the world award for English Literature and Religious Education. 

How did you feel about your A? I was really happy because I thought I would get a B or a C in Drama.

What’s your secret to these world-class results? The teachers here at Harrow Hong Kong. They were always so willing to give up their time and help me with all my questions. They were always hands-on and interactive. They literally guided me every step of the way. And also the resources we had. I had so many things to rely on and work with. 


No, seriously, what is your secret? There is no secret per se. You don’t just wake up one day and get 9 A*s. You need to be consistent, work hard and keep motivated. Also, have other activities that you’re passionate about, that really helps.

You mean co-curricular activities? Where do you have the time? You make the time. I found the best way to study was keeping up with my ocean rowing, cross country and athletics. I needed that balance so when I went back to my books, I wasn’t mentally drained but rather, energised. 

How often do you study? I study every day. As mentioned, it’s all about consistency. You have to put in the work. There’s no easy way to achieve A*s and As. 

Do you eat a ‘superfood’ to help boost those brain cells? Being Australian, I love Vegemite and eat lots of that around exam time – and I do think there is a link to eating Vegemite and boosting brain power! I also love granola and have a particular brand that I eat and go through boxes and boxes when I revise. 

Have you ever failed or been seriously disappointed with your grades? Yes, absolutely. I had to drop Further Mathematics for GCSE as it was too much for me. I did feel like a bit of a failure then. I also got a 6 for my English Literature GCSE mocks which then gave me the drive to do better and access the resources I needed, speak to my teachers and get extra work – I ended up with a 9 in the actual examination. 


Do you get any extra tutoring outside of school? No. I think we have all the resources and everything we could possibly need, at School. I value my spare time and prefer to do other things I am passionate about which I guess makes me happy and then gives me the drive to well within the classroom. 

How many A-Levels are you taking and what do you hope to do at University? I am taking Mathematics, Economics, History, Government and Politics and doing an EPQ about the 6 day war in Israel. I hope to study History and Politics at University, either at Cambridge or LSE in the UK or Brown or Berkeley in the USA. 

Wow, you’re doing all that and you still have time for your co-curricular sporting activities? Put simply, yes. I have a schedule that I create and stick to, which enables me to balance everything I love to do along with all my school work and revision. 

What advice would you give to pupils who want to do as well as you? Don’t be afraid to fail with your classwork, grades, whatever it is. Use it to spur you to keep motivated and keep aspiring to what you really want. Start now. Create a schedule and make sure it’s balanced. Remember it’s a marathon and not a sprint. 

Do you have a life mantra? Funnily enough, I do. Whenever I have not been happy with my grades at School or lost a sporting activity, my father always told me “Don’t get bitter, get better”. That’s what I live my life by. I always aim to be better today, than I was yesterday.

Learn more about the Harrow Hong Kong Sixth Form