• Question: Were you a straight-A science student?

    Asked by milybee on 19 Sep 2018.
    • Photo: Sophie Williams

      Sophie Williams answered on 19 Sep 2018:

      No, I wasn’t! I got some As and some A*s but I also got quite a few B’s. There were some subjects, such as maths, that no matter how hard I tried and revised for, I just wasn’t as good at. Everyone has things that they are better and worse at. Just because you might not get straight-As in everything doesn’t mean can’t achieve things you want to though 🙂

    • Photo: Mark Kennedy

      Mark Kennedy answered on 19 Sep 2018:

      Good question. No, I wasn’t. I studied chemistry and physics when I was in school, and I was not very good at chemistry. I was much better at physics, which is probably why I chose to study it at University, but I didn’t get many A’s in physics either.

      I actually found my grades got better when I started University, which I think is because I found the subject material in University much more interesting to study, so I didn’t mind spending hours working on the problem sets.

    • Photo: Kath Thomas

      Kath Thomas answered on 19 Sep 2018:

      I got A*s at GCSE but I came away from A levels with A’s in Biology and Physics and a B in Chemistry even after resitting my AS CHemistry 3 times!
      It changed my career path as it meant I didn’t get into Vet school but I’m happy as I still went into science and found Engineering and I think it suits me better.
      Once I got onto my degree my actual A level results didn’t really matter, but you need to show you can work hard and apply yourself and that you like the subject.

    • Photo: Michel Destrade

      Michel Destrade answered on 19 Sep 2018:

      Yes, I was a very good student in Secondary School as I loved both science and literature and didn’t mind working hard on these subjects. It allowed me to get good grades and have a good spread of university degrees to choose from. I chose science because I wanted to understand more about the physical world. After that, things got a bit less straightforward and I lost my appetite for learning for a while and had to repeat my second year at University! Wasn’t pleasant but hey stuff happens and you move on. I’m still in University 30 years after my leaving cert if you can believe that!

    • Photo: Kieran Fraser

      Kieran Fraser answered on 19 Sep 2018:

      Not at all! In school I found it pretty difficult. I remember failing plenty of tests :O I was never able to get the wording of science definitions perfect, and I’d lose marks. That kind of demotivated me from working harder at it too. But in Transition Year we did lots of cool physics experiments that I found interesting and it rekindled my interest. In 5th and 6th year I put a lot more effort into understanding concepts instead of just learning off definitions in the book and it helped so much. Even though I couldn’t remember the exact wording that was asked in exams, I was able to describe concepts in my own words 🙂

    • Photo: Aileen Baird

      Aileen Baird answered on 19 Sep 2018:

      Hi there,

      Seems like you’ve asked lots of people this question, so you’ll probably get lots and lots of different answers! For me it was variable- my GCSEs went relatively smoothly for me, but during A levels it was a bit more of a bumpy ride! I found A level Biology great, and I never struggled, but my chemistry and maths were much *much* more difficult. I had to resit a number of exams during my A levels- it was stressful at the time but I’m really glad I persevered. The chemistry skills in particular have been extremely helpful day-to-day during my experiments.

      I think in science there is a career for everyone- you do need to have some scientific knowledge (you can’t fail all your exams!) but nobody comes into science via the same route. Being someone who is really interested in the subject or job , and keen to learn more and develop their skills is more important than a perfect set of grades in my opinion!

      Aileen 🙂

    • Photo: Claire Donald

      Claire Donald answered on 19 Sep 2018:

      I certainly wasn’t. I think at school I got fairly average grades but when I studied more specialised subjects at university that I enjoyed learning my grades got better. I graduated with a 2:1 and then went on to complete my PhD.

    • Photo: Katie Sparks

      Katie Sparks answered on 19 Sep 2018:

      I definitely wasn’t. At GCSE, I did get As in Science and Maths, but not so much across other subjects. At A level, my grades were around the As and Bs.
      I think what really counts is enthusiasm and you can show that by hobbies and projects you do in your own time as much as by your grades.

    • Photo: Hayley Pincott

      Hayley Pincott answered on 19 Sep 2018:

      No, if anything I always had the worst grades. I enjoyed biology but didn’t like chamistry and hated physics. My end of year exam marks were always between 30-35% so really not a grade A student. Not even a passing exams student. I was encouraged by my grandad who always told me to learn science and maths so as there was no way I was going anywhere near A-levels I did a GNVQ in science and this is when things changed for me. I found a way to practically apply the knowledge I had learnt. I then had a look around a pathology lab and loved what I saw. I’m very obviously not academic and am very jealous of those that are however I love the job I am in and have learnt so much chatting and asking questions from the consultants and Biomedical Scientists I work with that I feel that I haven’t missed out by not having top marks througout school. Hope this helps.

    • Photo: Sarah Finnegan

      Sarah Finnegan answered on 19 Sep 2018:

      Definitely not! I was a B/C grade science student who just worked really hard and didn’t take no for an answer!

    • Photo: Hannah Tanner

      Hannah Tanner answered on 19 Sep 2018:

      Yes. Science was always my favourite subject. I didn’t get A in everything else though and had to work really hard to get my Maths GCSE so that I could do my science A-levels.
      Don’t worry if you don’t get perfect grades though. Some of the cleverest people I have ever met in science weren’t actually that good at exams at school.

    • Photo: Tim Millar

      Tim Millar answered on 19 Sep 2018:

      I was okay. Bs for Biol, Chem and Phys at O level, an A in Biology A level but C and D in Chemistry and Physics ;( I did okay at university a 2i which is one down from a1st which is the best grade. I did find I was really interested in so found it quite easy. Thats part of finding out what you like and its usually something worth putting all that effort in to learn and understand it. It makes studying fun and worthwhile

    • Photo: Graham Cullen

      Graham Cullen answered on 19 Sep 2018:

      In school in Ireland, no I was not a Straight A science student! I got mostly Cs and Ds. My main STEM subjects were Maths and Technical Drawing. I then studied mechanical engineering in the Dublin Institute of Technology. I started with a level 6 Diplomal Course and progressed up from there to Level 8 Higher Degree and then Masters.

    • Photo: Claire Inness

      Claire Inness answered on 19 Sep 2018:

      Nope. I got an A in biology and Bs in English literature and chemistry. My university offers were BBB (Imperial COllege) or BCC (Birmingham).

    • Photo: Jo Nettleship

      Jo Nettleship answered on 19 Sep 2018:

      I studied Chemistry and Physics as A level and did get As (no A* in my day). However, I know lots of researchers in my positin who did not. I got a 2:1 from my Chemistry degree. I think it is important to enjoy your subject and then you will be interested in it and are more likely to do well. There are lots of research careers which do not involve going to university so you can do apprenticeship or become a lab support technician.

    • Photo: Ali Hill

      Ali Hill answered on 19 Sep 2018:

      Ha ha. Definitely not!!!! But I really liked it, and that’s why I knew I wanted to work in science.

    • Photo: Ry Cutter

      Ry Cutter answered on 19 Sep 2018:

      Far from it!

      When I was in highschool, I didn’t have much direction or enthusiasm. My strengths have always been in science and maths, so I did okay in those subjects. The stuff I didn’t have any interest in I did pretty badly. I got a D in English language!

      Once I found out I wanted to go to university and work as a scientist I started working hard because I knew what I wanted. However, it was a hard battle. Because my grades were bad from highschool I had to show people I could improve.

      Having good grades doesn’t define how good someone is at a subject, but they are a push in the right direction.

      Hope that answer helps!


    • Photo: Sophie Louth

      Sophie Louth answered on 19 Sep 2018:


      I did get A*s in all my science GCSEs but that doesn’t mean you have to get all As to study science, engineering etc at A-level or beyond. There are lots of routes into science and engineering and A-levels and University are only one of many. For engineering there are lots of apprenticeships where you can earn while you are learning which offer a great opportunity.
      You can also change your mind!
      Lots of young people don’t know what they want to do when they are older and that is ok, follow your passions for now and see where they take you 🙂

    • Photo: Martha Nari Havenith

      Martha Nari Havenith answered on 19 Sep 2018:

      No – I was good at maths and biology, but pretty terrible at physics and kind of ok at chemistry. I only really discovered my love for science at university, when I realized that there were a lot of problems that absolutely no one had an answer to (yet). In school it could seem like there was always a right answer and you just had to learn what it was. Science got a lot more fun for me (and I got a lot better at it) when I started seeing it as a wide-open field full of surprising and confusing puzzles.

    • Photo: Ananthi Ramachandran

      Ananthi Ramachandran answered on 19 Sep 2018:

      No, far from it! I got a B in my GCSE’s for science, I got C’s for Biology and Chemistry at A Level and I even failed my first year at uni, but I finished with a good mark in my degree and almost finished my PhD now!

    • Photo: Andy Woods

      Andy Woods answered on 19 Sep 2018:

      Nope, mainly Bs and cs.

    • Photo: James Sullivan

      James Sullivan answered on 19 Sep 2018:

      I was OK. as a secondary school student – some As, more Bs, some Cs.
      When you’re studying something you like it’s a lot easier and my chemistry marks were good (but not the best in the class) through my BSc,

    • Photo: Ellen Williams

      Ellen Williams answered on 20 Sep 2018:

      In short, no! I didn’t work as hard as I should have done at school and actually left with 2 x C and 2 x D at A level. However I got lucky because my university allowed me in anyway. Exams are really important but there are usually ways around things if you don’t get what you wanted and/or expected the first time around 🙂

    • Photo: Ciara O'Donovan

      Ciara O'Donovan answered on 20 Sep 2018:

      Yes, science was probably one of my better subjects in school. For my leaving certificate I only did biology as this was my favourite part of science. I did well in Biology but this wasn’t necessary for the college course I ended up doing (Nutrition and Health Science). The first year of my degree was very general which allowed me to catch up on the areas of science that I wasn’t that familiar with (chemistry and physics) so I wouldn’t be worried too much about having straight As in all sciences. Although some courses do require you to have certain grades in certain subjects there are other ways around everything!

    • Photo: Aoife Lucid

      Aoife Lucid answered on 20 Sep 2018:


      I did end up with As in my leaving certificate in chemistry, biology, physics and applied maths – but I didn’t always get As in all of those subjects and it took a lot of hard work to get there. In my experience, you certainly don’t need to be a straight-A science student to succeed in science or to study it at university. A genuine interest in the subject and a willingness to always be learning is much more important!

    • Photo: Dmitry Dereshev

      Dmitry Dereshev answered on 20 Sep 2018:

      Nope, had both As and Bs.

    • Photo: Paul McKeegan

      Paul McKeegan answered on 21 Sep 2018:

      I think we all get to a point where we struggle with a subject, even if we think we’re good at it! I was always pretty on the ball for Biology, but I did have the same absolutely brilliant teacher for 5 years. That makes such a difference, doesn’t it? The jump from GCSE Chemistry to A level caught me out though and I went from A at GCSE to D… I had to put a lot work in and resit a couple of modules but got back up to the A in the end. I always struggled somewhat with maths and found that a lot of the concepts my classmates got quickly eluded me completely. I took Maths for AS level because I thought I needed it to do science at Uni, but had to do resits to get a B (and definitely didn’t take it to A2!).

      I actually found German and English to be my straight-A subjects, but had to leave these behind when choosing my A levels. I think sometimes the extra challenge of a subject we find interesting but a bit tough helps us out in the end.

      So, bearing in mind I am a Bio-Chemist, my final A levels were Biology, Chemistry, Classical Civilisations and AS Critical Thinking and Mathematics. I knew I needed Biology and Chemistry to do something science-based at Uni, but took Classics as an alternative to History and English. It ended up being a nice change from the science subjects, and it’s been a topic of discussion at interviews for every job I’ve gotten since then. So you don’t need to leave your non-science interests behind!

    • Photo: Sarah Naylor

      Sarah Naylor answered on 21 Sep 2018:

      No, whilst at GCSE level I achieved two A*’s for Double award science, at A-level I achieved C’s in biology and chemistry.

    • Photo: Thomas Perriment

      Thomas Perriment answered on 23 Sep 2018:

      I didn’t do very well at all at A-level. I did very well at GCSE, however at A-level I didn’t pay attention and sometimes skipped class, which is never good; it meant I got way worse that I would have done if I had studied properly. I knew this, and changed my attitude during my bachelors degree and my masters. I was top of my year during my masters and it just go to show that a tiger CAN change their stripes! The important thing to remember is that your grades don’t define you, it’s what you do with your life.

    • Photo: Scott Melville

      Scott Melville answered on 23 Sep 2018:

      It’s great to see such a huge diversity in the other answers to this question – it really does show that there are so many paths into STEM careers, and only a small number of them rely on you being a straight A student in high school!

      For me personally, I did get straight As. But if I’m honest, no one ever asks me about that – potential employers are generally more interested in whatever the ‘last thing’ you did was. So, of course, work as hard as you can in school – but don’t lose hope or motivation if you don’t get straight As! Just move on to your next thing, and keep trying your best 🙂 Pretty soon you’ll have done way more interesting things than just ‘school’, and people will focus on those. Enthusiasm and passion can count for just as much as grades.

    • Photo: Debbie Crockard

      Debbie Crockard answered on 24 Sep 2018:

      Hi, no I was definitely a B student in sciences, but I got A’s for Art and English. I loved science though so i tried really hard at it. I didn’t come into my own in science until I was at University and i found an area that really spoke to me.

    • Photo: Stéphane Berneau

      Stéphane Berneau answered on 28 Sep 2018:

      Yes, I always had a crush in Science subject but mostly biology.
      To be honest, being a researcher in biology was not my first choice when I was younger: I aimed to be a vet or a maths teacher in College.
      The medical side of my research project is what attracted me years ago to pursue in Biology and specialised in Reproductive biology.

    • Photo: Jordan Moir

      Jordan Moir answered on 15 Oct 2018:

      No, I had to study hard to get my grades but was not a grade A student. I loved biology and this came to me naturally but with chemistry I found this very difficult and struggled to get my head round the calculations. I got a lot of B’ s which were fine to complete my university course so do not panic if you are not a grade A student there is still plenty of options to obtain the career you want in the future.

    • Photo: Natasha Myhill

      Natasha Myhill answered on 13 Nov 2018:

      I got As and A*s at GCSE and As at A-level

    • Photo: Chloe Huseyin

      Chloe Huseyin answered on 22 Jan 2019:

      No, I did well in the subjects I liked (science subjects) and not quite as well with the ones I didn’t (languages). I really struggled with Irish and French for my leaving cert and they definitely had a negative impact on my overall points.

    • Photo: John Ging

      John Ging answered on 7 Feb 2019:

      Sure was. Not because I was some kind of swot… I just had an interest in learning new things and they just seemed to click. Wasn’t so hot on some of the language subjects (more B’s than A’s) but that all changed at university. From straight A’s to no way’s. Too many new subjects and every 4 months there was a new batch. I think it’s better nowadays because stuff is more accessible and practical.

    • Photo: Victoria Sharpe

      Victoria Sharpe answered on 4 Nov 2019:

      I achieved A’s in physics at A level and GCSE. I enjoyed the subject and found I could easily understand the conce8which is why I cont8to pursue this field albeit as an engineer in my career

    • Photo: Nicola Asker

      Nicola Asker answered on 12 Mar 2020:

      I got As for Physics and Chemistry when I did my Highers (as I went to high school in Scotland) but at Advanced Higher I got a D for Chemistry; and I never really did Biology at all.