We didn’t even know it was possible to do seven A-levels. But it is, and it’s also possible to get an A* in every single one of them. Super-bright Alastair Herron of Belfast, Northern Ireland, was awarded the top grades – and yet he was still rejected by Oxford University

“I applied to Oxford but they didn’t have a place for me. I am not sorry. The university didn’t tell me why, they sent a vague reply to me which could have meant anything,” Herron said in a recent interview on BBC Radio Ulster.

Instead, Herron will attend Stanford University in America, which he picked out of several offers from US Ivy League universities. He told he had planned to do that anyway, saying, “I would never stay at Oxford with offers from America so I am not in any way disappointed.”

The teen said he wants to get into “research and chemistry” and applied to Merton College, Oxford to read Chemistry. He took A-levels in Further Maths, Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Latin and Greek. He also gained 13 A*-grade GCSES in English Lit, English Lang, Maths, Ad MATHS, all three sciences, Latin, French, Greek, German, RE and Astronomy, which made him the highest performing student in Northern Ireland, according to the Belfast Telegraph.

An Oxford University spokesperson explained that their admission process is done before the students take their A-levels, and so they cannot base their decision on their exam grades. Instead they “compare” the prospective students against each other using aptitude tests, GCSE results and interviews.

They added, “Admission to Oxford is based purely on aptitude and potential for the chosen course, [which is] assessed through a range of measures. The university puts enormous effort into assessing individual aptitude and potential, using a wide range of means.

We have very many more exceptional applicants than we have places for and have to turn down thousands of candidates every year who go on to get the very top grades. We would never claim that Oxford was the be-all and end-all, and we know that these enormously talented young people will go on to excel at other top universities.”

Image: Oxford University, Christ Church campus via Thinkstock