Just a few days ago, Cambridge announced its Outstanding Learner Awards for 2020, and Aashir Ali Ayub, a 16-year-old from Super Nova College Islamabad, got 11 A*s and 1 A in the final IGCSE results - he has bagged 3 distinctions.  

  1. 1. Top in North Pakistan Biology 

  2. 2. Top in North Pakistan Chemistry

  3. 3. High Achievement Award Environmental Management 

As an EdTech organization, we were super excited to have an IGCSE student interview with Aashir to motivate the youth of Pakistan. 


- We invited Aashir to Nearpeer for a coffee and had a really productive discussion with him. Upon asking about his journey, he replied “Back in 2018 when I was about to start my journey from school to the IGCSE center, I had always thought of studying consistently, smashing all my school exams as well as final IGSCE exam.”

- We added, “Amazing amazing, so we’d like to know how it all went.” 

- Aashir replied, “I can only say I was pretty naive because that time was not less than a… a roller coaster of emotions.”

- “I started studying as expected, 3-4 hours a day after school and about 8 hours on the weekends but I didn’t score so good in my monthly and midterm IGCSE exams. This is what opened my eyes.” 

- “Right, but don’t you think studying 8 hours a day is a bit too much?” we said.

 - He replied, “Yes, I immediately realized that I was studying the hard way, but definitely not the smart way.

- We were kinda lost in this kid’s dedication. 

- “That’s great because being a bookworm, for us, is not an ideal thing to do these days to get success? It doesn’t actually work,” we added. 

- Aashir said, “I realized that being a bookworm would not work now. So, I started solving topical past papers, pushing my concepts to the limit, and then there was no looking back.” 

- We said, “Totally agreed. It’s a great lesson for the students to push your concepts to the limits instead of becoming a bookworm.”

- “One more question, Aashir! We’d like to know your reviews about academies. Have you joined any?”

- He replied, “I did turn to an academy in my 2nd year. You know that there’s a very strong academy culture in Pakistan so I just joined it. I realized only two months later that academies are not helpful either for my IGCSE preparation.” 

- We said, “What was the biggest challenge that you had to face during IGCSE preparation? Our audience might relate to it.” to which Aashir replied, “The major challenge to me was that I found my teachers incompatible and I had to look for alternatives very soon.” 

- “Why? Was there a problem with the discipline of teaching or the environment?” we asked. 

- Aashir replied, “No it wasn’t the teachers, they were obviously excellent as in my IGCSE Physics and IGCSE Chemistry teachers were really good but since the classes used to be so crowded, it’d be almost impossible to ask any question.”

- We said, “So it was the environment.”

- “Yeah” he replied. “Studying totally different chapters in school and academy created complete havoc in my brain. I knew I had to quit.” 

“At that time, I turned to my life savior ‘the internet’ again.”

- We were pretty happy to hear that the internet was actually a solution that this kid had found for his studies. 

- Aashir added, “I had it all; from excellent YouTube videos and PDF notes to topical quizzes and flashcards to nail my IGCSE exam. There was a sigh of relief from my side. When things started to get in the flow, Covid-19 said “Hello!” 

- “Seriously. The pandemic had actually taken us all down. So how did you manage to study during the lockdown?” we asked.

- Aashir replied, “I was all on my own for the next few months.”

- We asked, “So, you finally got yourself into self-learning.”

- “That’s right,” he said. Aashir also added, “There was no proper online academy set up to help me. So, the only option left was self-learning.”

- “Great and how did you manage the load?” we asked to which he replied, “There’s a Facebook community group called COALI that I joined. It had students of O/A Levels from all over Pakistan. That group was a great source of guidance and motivation.”

- “Good. So, apart from the academic skills, did you learn something else?” asked us.

- Aashir replied, “Yes, I learned some of the most invaluable life skills including self-reliance, independent self-studying, and also discovered how important virtual learning is.” 

- We said, “Wonderful, it’s very fascinating to hear such a success story and it’s surely a motivation and a step-by-step guide for the others. Amazing” 

- “Do you have a message for the students who are about to appear in the IGCSE exams in the future? Would you like to say something to them?

- “Never forget the importance of self-reliance and independent studying because YOU are your best teacher. Plus, try to have a balance between studies and fun because they all are equally important.”

- “Just the thoughts we have. Even we are working on this ideology. What are your thoughts about it? About Nearpeer?”

- “Well I came across Nearpeer recently and I found that it just launched its O/A Level program. After studying it thoroughly, I can confidently say it’s the best for IGCSE preparation out there.”

- We proudly added, “We’d love it if you share your experience with Nearpeer with our audience - what special did you find here?”

- Aashir explained, “First, being online will definitely save the students from exhaustion and transport time/costs of physical academies. Second, I am in love with your pre-recorded lecture model enabling self-learning attitude in students. The lectures aren’t like YouTube videos where we’re left with many questions we can’t get answers to. 

- “Nearpeer’s recorded lectures are just complete and the content includes access to live sessions as well, that are held by the teachers via zoom. This accounts for human interaction as well”

- So, even if we have questions, we can ask and the teachers respond immediately. I really appreciate this thing.”

- Aashir also added, “I think it’s just like Netflix but very helpful. I can download, rewind, and even replay the lectures whenever I want and I think it is very important for students. 


This coffee chat at Nearpeer was definitely an inspiration for a lot of you students out there. If Nearpeer can change Aashir’s academic life, it can save yours too, maybe in a better way. Get yourself enrolled in Nearpeer’s O/A Level course and YOU might get 3 distinctions (or more) as well in your IGCSE results. 

What part of this conversation inspired you the most or taught you something? Let us know in the comments below!

Nearpeer offers 24/7 counseling services even for Cambridge IGCSE. To connect with our counselor, click here.