THE corridors of schools and colleges across Exeter, East and Mid Devon were buzzing with anticipation last week as hundreds of teenagers collected their A-level results.
After a two-month wait, from 8am year 13 students, who had been studying for the A2 examinations and the Extended Project Qualification (EPQ), gathered, eager to tear open their results' envelopes.
Nationally, there has been a slight drop of 0.3 per cent in the number of top grade passes for the second year running.
However the overall pass rate went up by 0.1 per cent to 98.1 per cent.
Across the country a record number of students had already secured a place at university before results day, up nine per cent on last year.
But about 250,000 were left scrambling for a place through the clearing process.
In Exeter and East Devon schools that boasted 100 per cent pass rates (grades A – E) included Exeter School, Maynard School, the King's School in Ottery St Mary and Sidmouth College.
Exeter College is celebrating another "outstanding" year with a 99.4 per cent pass rate which is higher than the national average and on a par with their results last year.
In addition the number of A* grades increased by seven per cent from 91 last year to 107 this year.
Almost half of this year's 691 cohort which is made up of young people from across the county, achieved A*, A or B grades.
College principal Richard Atkins was thrilled to point out that this year saw a huge increase in the number of students who went to the city's schools attaining the top grades – of the 36 students who achieved all A or A* grades, 21 came from Exeter schools.
"Five years ago this percentage was much lower," he added. "It's double what it was which is a reflection of how well the schools are doing and the impact the new buildings and reorganisation is having. We're able to take them on further."
Mr Atkins attributes the college's sustained success to their "stretch and challenge" philosophy. "With careful target setting and this philosophy we create the right culture and climate for aspiration and ambition among both staff and students," he said, adding, "This is the same as athletes aiming to win gold medals.
"This year's results are superb – we remain committed to supporting the progress of all our students and our relentless drive to improve teaching and learning is balanced by the enormous range of our enrichment activities.
"These outstanding results mean that our students are ideally placed to progress to the UK's top competitive universities."
Tommy Reeday, 18, achieved an A* in film and video, a D in media studies and a merit in a media production BTEC. He is staying on at the college to study a Foundation Degree in media production.
"I wasn't expecting an A* so I'm really pleased," he said. "I was always easily distracted but then my lecturer gave me a massive motivational boost – and I listened to him."
Michael Surtees, 18, from Sidmouth achieved A*s in biology and physics and As in chemistry, maths and his critical thinking AS.
He is looking forward to studying medicine at Sheffield University. "I'm happy," he said. "I got what I needed to go to university which was the goal.
"I was predicted all A*s but I've done other things at college including Ten Tors which was so worthwhile I don't mind taking the hit for that experience.
"The staff were really encouraging. My advice to others is to put the work in early because it will make it easier later on."
Emma Tapp, 18, from Exeter, achieved Bs in physics and maths and a C in English language. The former St Luke's Science and Sports College student is looking forward to studying primary education at Plymouth University.
"I feel really good to have got into the uni I wanted," she said. "The exams were hard, but I did work hard for them – I didn't have a life for three months!
"My advice to others to put the work in because it's worth it in the end."
Jake Lyons, 18, achieved an A* in maths and three As in chemistry, biology and further maths. The former St Luke's student is going to study chemistry at Nottingham University. "My results are better than I expected," he said. "The exams were horrendous! I did well last year at AS level and I stepped it up this year."
Louisa Saunders, 18, from Chulmleigh achieved an A* in biology and an A in chemistry and maths. She is going to study veterinary medicine at Bristol University. "I've wanted to be a vet forever – having a goal made it easier to work hard," she said.
"A-levels are really hard," she added. "And if you're not going to work hard there's no point in doing them. But working hard pays off."
Max Gratton, 18, travelled from Tavistock every day to study at Exeter College. He was part of the college's Reach Academy which provides extended opportunities for gifted and talented students.
Despite having dyslexia, Max achieved three As in maths, physics and chemistry and is going to study medicine at Southampton University.
"I got the grades I was hoping for," he said. "My dyslexia means I am slow at reading and writing so I needed a scribe during the exams.
"It's been hard because, whereas at school I received extra support, I wanted to be more independent at college so I was prepared for university.
"I feel really happy."
Student Tim Wan, who achieved two A*s and an A, said he was "over the moon", and is off to UCL this September to study Pharmacy.
Staff and students at Exmouth Community College are celebrating after another "record breaking" year with a 98 per cent pass rate, an increase of two per cent on last year.
And 68 per cent achieved A* – C grades – up three per cent on last year with 20 students achieving at least one A*.
Top achievers include, Melanie Ashwin who achieved one A* and three A grades. Oliver Brown, Jessie Dunn and Matthew Harrison also gained one A* and two A grades.
Simon Tanner, assistant principal and head of Post 16, said: "I am delighted – staff and students have worked extremely hard and deserve this success.
"Most of these excellent students have been with us from Year 7 and these grades provide them with a great foundation for their futures beyond the college, which is a huge source of pride for all who work here.
"These results show the superb progress we have made."
College principal Tony Alexander, added: "I am thrilled with the continued improvement in the A Level results – the dedication of my staff and great commitment of the students has paid off handsomely.
"Everyone involved deserves sincere congratulations for another record year which together with the recent impressive Ofsted report gives an excellent platform on which to continue our success."
Patricia Woodley, 18, achieved an A* in sociology, a B in chemistry and a C in biology. She is looking forward to studying biochemistry at Manchester University. "I'm really, really happy," she said. "I thought I was going to have to go through clearing. I knew the exams were going to be hard but they were so hard!
"I wasn't put off going to uni because of the high fees, I knew I wanted to go."
Lighthearted sisterly competition between twins, Farzana and Rebecka Mulk, 18, spurred them on to work hard for their A-levels after admitting they didn't work so hard for their GCSEs. After achieving an A, a B, three Cs and a D between them, they are both looking forward to going to Bath Spa University to study business management.
"This year I put my foot down," said Farzana. "I really wanted to go to uni and didn't want to disappoint my parents who have been really supportive.
"I realised Rebecka was doing really well and I got a bit competitive because I wanted to do well too!"
Milly Pawson, 18, achieved two A*s, for English literature and the EPQ, an A for religious studies and a B for drama. She is looking forward to studying philosophy at King's College London. "I'm really, really pleased," she said. "I worked hard last year so my AS results really contributed.
"My advice to others would be to work hard throughout the two years as the AS results really help boost the final exam results."
Dan Williams, 18, achieved a B for geography, a D in physics and an E in chemistry and is going on to study environmental science at Portsmouth University.
"I didn't mind what my grades were as long as I got into the uni of my choice," he said. "They were really hard so I am just really relieved my hard work paid off.
"My advice would be to work consistently throughout the two years – I slacked in the first year so really had to step it up this year."
Ollie Brown, 18, achieved an A* in English literature and As in classics and geography. He is looking forward to studying classics at Exeter University. "I was predicted these grades so they're as I expected," he said. "I felt confident throughout.
"I wanted to go to Exeter University as it's one of the top four for the subject in the country, but being able to live at home and save money was a factor too."
Students and staff at Sidmouth College are celebrating after a huge jump in the number of top grades.
The school is boasting a 100 per cent pass rate, up two per cent on last year, with 30 per cent A* or A grades, up from 12 per cent in 2012. The number of A* to C grades is up a massive 20 per cent from 65 to 85, with 58 per cent of grades A* to B, up from 42 per cent last year.
Most students secured offers from the universities of their choice, many of those being in the top performing bracket of universities, with one student being offered a place at Cambridge; a tremendous personal accolade as well as one for the College. Maths and further maths were some of the top performing subject areas.
Sue Hurley, head of Sixth Form, said: "These are a phenomenal set of results produced by an exceptional set of students who worked extremely hard and also contributed greatly to the life at Sidmouth College."
Colyton Grammar School is boasting another stunning year of results with 89.3 per cent of students achieving A*, A or B grades and a 99.8 per cent pass rate.
Furthermore, the school has bucked the national trend with the number of top A* grades rising to 28.7 per cent with the number of A* or A grades up 4.1 per cent to 68.5 per cent of all grades awarded.
Nearly 20 per cent of the year achieved three top A* grades or better with half recording at least one A*.
This year, 12 students are off to study medicine and one to study veterinary science while 13 are expected to take up places at Oxford or Cambridge. The majority of other students are planning to take up places in prestigious Russell Group universities and other sought after institutions.
Top achievers include Clodagh Krasucki with six A*s, Alice Petherick with five A*s, Rory Bolsover and Dominic Hall with four A*s and two As, Branoc Richards, Harriet Eaton and Mark Collett with four A*s and one A, and Ciara Rowland-Simms, Freya Le Helloco, Matthew Baker and Thomas Collingwood with four A*s.
Headteacher Paul Evans said: "It's been another successful year for students at Colyton who have worked hard to achieve these stunning results.
"The majority of students have achieved what they need to go on to some very competitive higher education courses, which at the end of the day, is the most important thing.
"They should be congratulated for what they've achieved. and I'd like to thank their teachers for the support and encouragement that they have given."
Honiton Community College is celebrating a record pass rate of 96.5 per cent with the average grade now above a C and 68 per cent of grades at A* to C.
Top achievers include Chris Hack with two A*s and two As , Lewis Gillingham with two A*s and two As, Dan Stevens with two As and two Bs, Tara Drew with an A*, a distinction and a B, and Lucy Meecham with an A* and two Bs.
Headteacher Glenn Smith, wished college leavers well and thanked the students and their parents as well as staff for their "positive and proactive partnership".
"I am delighted with our results," he added. "Yet again students have surpassed their targets.
"This year's A-level results have exceeded governor's expectations and place us among the best comprehensive Sixth Forms in Devon.
"I put our success down to the hard work and commitment of students and teachers combined with excellent standards of learning and teaching."
The King's School in Ottery St Mary is boasting an impressive 100 per cent pass rate, with 83 per cent of all grades being A* to C and 34 per cent at A* or A.
Fourteen students achieved a clean sweep of A or A* grades with many others achieving or surpassing their target grades.
This year 54 students passed the extended project, with 23 at A*. And 11 students achieved the Baccalaureate alongside their A-level results.
Headteacher Faith Jarrett, said: "The results represent a sustained level of achievement despite the examination boards and Government admitting that the examinations Post 16 are getting harder.
"We are delighted that the students have achieved so many examination successes but we are equally pleased that so many of our Sixth Form students have been brilliant role models to students across the school.
"They have a led a whole range of House events, taken part in Ten Tors, Duke of Edinburgh, gained leadership qualifications and undertaken hundreds of hours of volunteering and community service.
"That so many students have achieved their personal goals and secured the next phase of their education or employment while maintaining such a diverse range of extracurricular activities is a testament to their hard work and commitment.
"Our thanks as ever go to the families of our students for their constant support and encouragement and to all the staff who have helped these young people achieve so much."
Students at Clyst Vale Community College are continuing to do well. This year's pass rate is 95.5 per cent, one per cent down on last year.
However, this year the number of teenagers achieving the top A*, A or B grades is up from 35.6 per cent to 37 per cent.
Among the school's notable achievers is Dumitra Bors, who moved to the UK from Romania two years ago. She achieved an A* in maths, As in biology and chemistry and a B in physics. She is looking forward to studying natural sciences at University College, London.
Other top achievers include Graham Taylor with an A* and two As, Lucy Gold-Lewis with three As, Rob Bridge with an A and two Bs, Cat Woolford with an A*, A, B and C, and Eleni Greenwood with two As and a B.
Principal Kevin Bawn, said: "We're pleased with these encouraging results. Our AS results are especially encouraging, with a 10 per cent improvement in the pass rate, which bodes well for next year.
"Yet again maths results are particularly good, with three-quarters of students achieving at least a B grade.
"English, politics, French, and geography all performed well, too.
"Almost all subjects had 100 per cent pass rates and all major subjects included at least one A* to B grade, indicating a breadth of good teaching."
He added: "However, results day is about the students not the stats and it's always an emotional day.
"We've known many of our students for seven years and the Sixth Form is noted for its family feel."
Staff at Queen Elizabeth Community College in Crediton are also celebrating the achievements of Year 13 students with all subjects showing an upward trend of results.
The school has also bucked the national trend reporting a higher percentage of top grades this year. There was a 97 per cent pass rate overall, with 23 per cent at A* or A grades and 50 per cent at A* to B.
The school's law, sociology, theatre studies, psychology, PE, ICT and geography departments all reported results well above their target grades.
And in chemistry, 100 per cent of students achieved A* to B grades against a target of 50 per cent. In addition, 66 per cent of students who took the EPQ achieved an A* to B.
Top achievers include, Dominic Jacques with three A*s and an A for the EPQ, Susannah McLaren with two A*s and two As, Laura Parnell with two A*s, a C and an A* for the EPQ and Lucy Harris with three As and two Bs.
Principal Richard Newton Chance, said: "We are delighted by the achievement of all our students and are very pleased that our A-level results are once again very impressive.
"The results are huge credit to all the young people who have worked so hard to achieve them, against an increasingly difficult national picture.
"Nationally there has been a dip in the top grades, a situation not seen here.
He added: "All subject areas have produced excellent results that show an upward trend, a huge credit to our hard working teachers who support the students so well.
Taken together with our enrichment programme we really are doing the very best job of preparing our students for university entrance, as borne out by the number of our students getting in to the top universities".
Staff and students at Tiverton's Further Education college, Petroc are also celebrating with a 96.1 per cent overall pass rate with 21.1 per cent of students achieving A* or A grades and 57.9 per cent achieving grades A* to C.
Out of 14 subjects, 11 achieving a 100 per cent pass rate.
Keith Devine, head of the School of Humanities and Science, said: "Next year's students have certainly got a lot to live up to as Petroc students have once again shown that, when provided with high quality teaching and support, they are capable of competing with and beating the best in Britain.
"The staff at the college are extremely proud of their achievements and look forward to hearing of their exploits at the top universities up and down the country."
The city's independent schools have also maintained their reputation as high-class establishments.
The Maynard School is boasting a 100 per cent pass rate with an impressive 60 per cent of students achieving A* or A grades and 85 per cent achieving A*, A or B grades. In addition, seven students gained the EPQ, with three students achieving A*s and one gaining an A.
All students gained a place at their first choice of university. Many are going on to study at Russell Group universities including Oxford, Cambridge, Bristol, Warwick, York, Durham, Southampton and St Andrews.
Top achievers include Alexandra Sage with four A*s and an A* in the EPQ, Elizabeth Hamilton with three A*s and one A, Rachel Christie, with two A*s and two As, Pip Halpin with two A*s and two As and Clare Dawson with two A*s, one A and an A in the EPQ.
Headmistress Bee Hughes, said: "I am absolutely delighted with the performance of all our students at A-level this year.
"I am very proud of all their achievements and of the Maynard staff, whose academic and pastoral support inspires the girls to work hard and to achieve highly year on year."
Exeter School is also celebrating a 100 per cent pass rate for the 10th year in a row with 84 per cent of all grades at A*, A or B, 56 per cent A* or A and 18 per cent at grade A*.
There were high achievers across the range of 22 subjects with more than a third, 41 pupils, achieving three or more A* or A grades. Sixteen students undertook the EPQ with 11 scoring A* or A.
In addition, the average number of UCAS (university entry requirement points) per candidate was 397 – the equivalent of more than three A grades per candidate.
Headmaster Bob Griffin, said: "This is a pleasing set of results for a year group which has worked hard and contributed hugely to the extra-curricular life of our busy school.
"They can look forward to their university careers with confidence. I congratulate all our pupils and staff, whose hard work has paid off."
Exeter Tutorial College is celebrating after 80 per cent of its pupils achieved grades A* to B and 100 per cent passed their exams this year.