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Student Took Just 7 Months to Get an A* and Climbed Ben Nevis

14th September 23

Grimsby-born Harvey Harris, 19, is preparing for life at the University of Nottingham after achieving his Physics A-Level in just seven months, thanks to learndirect. 

Following in the footsteps of his father Sean Harris and future brother-in-law Michael Suddens, teenager Harvey is getting ready to start a degree in Natural Sciences BSc Hons at the University of Nottingham this month. 

Unlike his peers, Harvey’s route to university was far from traditional. After deciding to take a year out, he chose to prop up his academic profile by studying A-Level Physics. 

While most students were starting college or Sixth Form last September, Harvey, who is a keen outdoor sports enthusiast, enrolled on an online A-Level Physics course with learndirect, the UK’s leading online education provider. 

Photo of learndirect A Level Physics learner Harvey

“The way [the course] was written, it was as if you had someone in front of you talking through it rather than it just being the information and nothing else,” said Harvey while reflecting on his studies with learndirect. It was written in prose as opposed to just bullet points. It was very good; I could work through it myself and get through the work.” 

Most of those who took their A-Level exams this summer had to spend two years completing their subject, but with the online flexibility offered by learndirect, Harvey was able to go at his own pace, completing the course in just seven months. 

“I could do what I wanted when I wanted,” he added. “At school, I was one of the brighter ones in my class. [By] learning online, I wasn’t having to wait for the other students. If I understood something, I could move on to the next bit, If I didn’t, I could spend more time on the bits I didn’t understand. I wasn’t waiting on someone else’s timetable.” 

Now, he is fully equipped to begin his first year at the University of Nottingham. Initially, Harvey wanted to study medicine but changed his mind and decided to pursue a subject closer to his passion instead. Not only did he choose the establishment for its Natural Sciences course and his family traditions, but also because of its excellence in sport. 

Harvey is no stranger to adrenaline-infused activities. During the time from his enrolment at learndirect to completion, he walked the North Yorkshire Moors, Cairngorms National Park and Ben Nevis, and explored the Lake District, all the while still managing to get an A* in his exam! 

His love of outdoor activities, such as kayaking, hiking, and surfing, made the University of Nottingham a perfect fit for Harvey. The establishment was named Sports University of the Year in 2021 by The Times and The Sunday Times Good University Guide. 

“On top of the course being really good, it ticked the boxes for sports,” said Harvey. “My dad went there 30 years ago; my sister’s fiancé went there 4 years ago. It ticked all my boxes.” 

Harvey will follow his father Sean, who studied Chemistry at the University of Nottingham and went on to become a teacher, as well as his sister’s fiancé Michael, who achieved a degree in Geography. 

After acing his exam, the teenager spent the summer surfing, scuba diving, and he climbed the three national peaks – Ben Nevis, Scarfell Pike and Snowdon – in a time of just 22 hours and 55 minutes.

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