Sixth former studying for 28 A-levels ‘to avoid narrowing options’on February 13, 2024 at 12:00 pm

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Mahnoor Cheema, 17, says she still has spare time despite the number of subjects she studies.

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A sixth form student is studying for 28 A-levels because she says she wants to avoid narrowing her options.

Mahnoor Cheema, from Slough, has a full schedule managing her coursework and exam preparation alongside multiple extra-curricular activities.

She is taking four with her school and is studying the rest at home with her study partner, mum Tayyaba.

The 17-year-old, whose 161 IQ is higher than the late Prof Stephen Hawking, already has 34 GCSEs.

But she said she was still able to have a social life as she manages her workload around classes.

“It doesn’t really tend to take up a lot of time,” she said.

Speaking to the Today programme on BBC Radio 4, Mahnoor said it was her mother Tayyaba Cheema who instilled in her a “deep passion” for learning and books.

She is studying four A-levels at the sixth form at Henrietta Barnett School in London and then completes her extra studies at home.

Mahnoor Cheema and Tayyaba Cheema

Image source, Tayyaba Cheema

Among the extra A-levels Mahnoor is taking are two maths courses, three languages, three variations of history, economics, business, computer science and film studies.

She said: “My parents have always made sure I’m not so academically focussed that that I forget to have a social life and extra curriculars. So I play the piano, I do chess, I do swimming, I go out with my friends.

“I just didn’t want to narrow down my choices, and I think if I had done four A-levels I would have been very dissatisfied with the academic challenge provided to me, so I just decided to go that extra mile.”

Mahnoor, who moved back to the UK from Pakistan when she was nine, has already completed four A-levels since starting college in September.

She said: “My study co-partner is my mum and her policy has always been that we take one subject at a time and we tackle that in however long it takes, then we move on to the next one.”

Mahnoor, who is a member of Mensa, will be focussed on gaining a place at Oxford University or Imperial College.

She is hoping to train as a doctor and focus her studies on the brain.

Mahnoor explained: “I was always fascinated by my own brain, by how the brain makes people tick, emotions, memory processing. So neuroscience and neurosurgery is an interest of mine.

“I think I just have a good memory, it’s my biggest tool, I tend to read and process things quite quickly and I’m good at scanning text.

“My mum invested in a lot of brain building activities when I was young, like arithmetic, chess, classical music. Mum really is a role model and inspiration for me.”

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