But Jonathan's geography project on flooding in his home town of Helston, Cornwall, helped him to win a national medal after he gained the best mark out of almost 53,000 candidates from across the country who were entered with the Southern Examining Group (SEG).
He gained eight 'starred A' grades, the new top mark which recognises the achievements of about 3 per cent of the candidates in each subject.
Jonathan, who is already working towards an A-level in geography which he hopes to take in November, said: 'I was hoping for A grades, but I didn't expect anthing like this.'
Dennis Johnson, headteacher of Helston School, the comprehensive that Jonathan attends, was delighted: 'It is a remarkable achievement. He is a remarkable lad and we are very proud of him.'
Among the other prizewinners in the SEG competition - run in conjunction with United Biscuits - who are picked for having the highest mark in one of the national curriculum subjects, several had a string of the highest grades.
Sarah Collett of the Blessed George Napier school, a comprehensive in Banbury, Oxfordshire, came top out of 41,200 students in home economics. She took 12 GCSEs and gained nine A*s, two As and a B.
Sarah is in Spain and will not learn her results until she returns tomorrow. Among this year's other GCSE successes were Samantha Walker and Tara Deshpande, from King Edward VI school in Handsworth, Birmingham, both of whom got 10 A* grades.
Mark Jutton, 13, at Stafford Grammar School, won an A* grade GCSE in music.
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