Since first walking through ACG Sunderland's gates in 2016, Liam Hall has been the perfect example of an all-around achiever. The Year 13 student has excelled academically and on the sporting field, and his most recent success saw him scoring a staggering 96% in his 2021 Cambridge International AS-Level physics exam.
As the culmination of months of diligence, dedication and effort, receiving this phenomenal result was a particularly gratifying moment for the 17-year-old.
"It meant a lot to me," Liam confirms. "I had been doing a great deal of work, especially for physics, and being able to use this mark when applying to universities is a huge advantage. It also gives me a good foundation to get a high mark in my A2-Level physics paper this year."
Unsurprisingly, physics is a subject that has considerable appeal to Liam.
"Physics offers an explanation for everything that happens around me. I particularly like it because it gives me a more fundamental understanding of everyday occurrences. Another thing I like about physics is how it provides a more practical use for the abstract concepts learnt in maths, another of my favourite subjects."
In fact, the connection between Liam's preferred subjects is a cornerstone of his studies this year.
"Other than physics, I enjoy both maths and chemistry. All three of these subjects have the same approach and link in many different ways. The main thing I like about them is that they can offer explanations of how the world and the universe work. As a result, they can be quite challenging while providing interesting problems to solve."
The highly-accomplished teen places significant value on the Cambridge curriculum as well, enjoying its structure and transparency.
"The Cambridge curriculum not only teaches you base content but also provides real-world applications, which really appeals to me. The biggest rewards I've experienced from studying under this syllabus have been the moments when I received my exam results – just knowing that all of my hard work and dedication had paid off was very satisfying."
Liam is particularly grateful for the way the school helped prepare students to succeed in their Cambridge exams, especially given last year's extended lockdown period.
"The schoolwork that went on during lockdown barely changed from what we had been covering in class," he reports. "All of my teachers were running virtual lessons on Zoom, so this hardly affected the quality of teaching and, since I had such great support from them, the quality of work I was able to produce."
During his seven years at ACG Sunderland, Liam has amassed numerous highlights and fond memories of the school. But he considers the practical work he has completed in the sciences to be at the top of the list.
"Another thing I enjoyed was the small class sizes, as I formed more long-lasting and strong bonds with my classmates and teachers," he adds. "And earning the 2021 Most Valuable Player title as a member of the school's badminton team would have to be a favourite moment too."
In addition to his skills on the badminton court, the talented athlete has previously represented the school in several sports in the Northwest Inter-school competition, including swimming, soccer and cross country. However, not content to rest on his laurels, Liam has ambitious plans for the year ahead.
"Last year really improved my work ethic and helped me become more self-motivated. So for the first few months of 2022, I have definitely focused on the Chemistry Olympiad – at this stage, I've made it past the second round of testing and now have reached the training camp and the final selection exam. I would also like to keep my academic standards high, and I'm aiming for A* grades (90% and above) across all the A2-Level subjects I am taking."
And as for what the future holds, Liam is pragmatically keeping his options open.
"I am planning on studying engineering at university; however, I'm still open to finding other possibilities, as long as they are in the science field. I would have to say my dream job is working at one of the 'cutting edge of science' organisations, like LHC (Large Hadron Collider) or LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory)."