Celebrities who faced challenges with school exams: From Cheryl to Gemma Collins to Robbie Williams (and those who aced them without a hitch!)

Celebrities who faced challenges with school exams: From Cheryl to Gemma Collins to Robbie Williams (and those who aced them without a hitch!)

Exam season is in full swing in the UK with students across the country feeling the pressure to ace their exams.

While studying hard for end of year tests is important, many celebrities have proven not getting the best results isn’t the end of the world.

In fact, some stars who have gone on to huge success left school without a single qualification to their name.

Other famous faces on the other hand may surprise fans by how well they did in school, with some even studying chemical engineering and psychotherapy. 

As students across the UK complete their exams, MailOnline takes a look at how the stars did during their time in education. 

Stars who struggled to ace their exams 

Cheryl  

Celebrities who faced challenges with school exams: From Cheryl to Gemma Collins to Robbie Williams (and those who aced them without a hitch!)

Cheryl knew she wanted to be an entertainer from a young age and left school without attaining a single GCSE

Cheryl knew she wanted to be an entertainer from a young age and left school without attaining a single GCSE.

She became a member of Girls Aloud aged 19 after competing on the reality series Popstars: The Rivals. 

In a blog for The Huffington Post, Cheryl wrote in 2012, ‘For those who did well with their GCSEs or even managed to scrape by, their world is about to change. 

‘Maybe they’re about to take up a place at college to study their chosen subjects, or maybe they have their dream job lined up. Either way, it’s a time for celebration.’ 

Gemma Collins 

Reality TV star Gemma Collins, left school at 16 after not enjoying studying and taking exams

Reality TV star Gemma Collins, left school at 16 after not enjoying studying and taking exams

Reality TV star Gemma Collins, left school at 16 after not enjoying studying and taking exams.

After leaving school with a ‘U’ in maths, Gemma wasn’t fazed; she told the magazine, YOU: ‘I remember sitting in the exam room for my maths GCSE and thinking, ‘I’m going to be famous, I don’t need maths. What I really need is to go down Romford High Street and buy new shoes.’

Years later, Gemma’s dreams of fame came true as she became a castmember on ITV reality series TOWIE.  

Robbie Williams 

Robbie Williams failed all of his GCSEs in secondary school

Robbie Williams failed all of his GCSEs in secondary school

Robbie Williams didn’t entertain anyone with his academic achievements. 

Despite being predicted to earn As and Bs in English, History, and Geography, he ultimately floundered, failing all of his GCSEs in secondary school.

However, fate was on his side when he joined Take That. Reflecting on his journey, Robbie remarked, ‘If I went back to uni, well before that, I would go back and get all of my GCSEs – I failed them all.’

Simon Cowell

Simon Cowell left school with just two O level—the equivalent of two GCSE—but then dropped out at 16

Simon Cowell left school with just two O level—the equivalent of two GCSE—but then dropped out at 16

He may be at the pinnacle of the music industry now, but Simon Cowell wasn’t always top dog.

The X Factor judge left school with just two O level—the equivalent of two GCSE—but then dropped out at 16.

He began his career working in the mailroom at his father’s company, EMI Music Publishing. 

Now, Simon is known for the hit talent shows X Factor and Britain Got Talent, which have been franchised worldwide.

Ryan Gosling

After turning 17, Ryan Gosling decided to drop out of Lester B. Pearson High School and moved from Canada to L.A. to pursue his acting career

After turning 17, Ryan Gosling decided to drop out of Lester B. Pearson High School and moved from Canada to L.A. to pursue his acting career

After turning 17, Ryan Gosling decided to drop out of Lester B. Pearson High School and moved from Canada to L.A. to pursue his acting career.

When Ryan turned 12, he tasted some fame in Hollywood when he joined Disney’s Mickey Mouse Club as a cast member alongside Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera and Justin Timberlake. 

However, his big break came when he starred in The Notebook alongside Rachel McAdams. 

Jake Humphrey 

Jake Humphrey performed well throughout his GCSEs; however, he didn't fare as well at his A-Levels

Jake Humphrey performed well throughout his GCSEs; however, he didn’t fare as well at his A-Levels

Jake Humphrey performed well throughout his GCSEs; however, he didn’t fare as well at his A-Levels.

He previously wrote on X/Twitter: ‘A-level students—remember results don’t and won’t define you. In 1999, I got an E, N, and U for myself. Things haven’t turned out too bad…’

His successful broadcasting career came from being sacked from McDonald’s.

Cameron Diaz

Cameron Diaz dropped out of secondary school at age 16 to pursue modelling full-time

Cameron Diaz dropped out of secondary school at age 16 to pursue modelling full-time

Cameron Diaz dropped out of secondary school at age 16 to pursue modelling full-time. 

The film star described her high school experience as ‘pretty rough’ and that other students would start fights with her.  

She soon landed her first acting gig in The Mask and is now renowned for her roles in Shrek, There’s Something About Mary and Charlie’s Angels. 

Richard Branson 

After having a turbulent ride studying, Richard Branson left school at 16, where his headteacher told him he'd either end up in prison or he'd become a millionaire

After having a turbulent ride studying, Richard Branson left school at 16, where his headteacher told him he’d either end up in prison or he’d become a millionaire

After having a turbulent ride studying, Richard Branson left school at 16, where his headteacher told him he’d either end up in prison or he’d become a millionaire.

A few years later, he launched his first business, a magazine named ‘Student’, and today, he owns Virgin Atlantic, one of the largest airlines globally and has a network of $2.5B.

He previously advised students: ‘You won’t necessarily reach success because you failed exams but you can reach success in spite of failed exams.’

Stars who aced their exams

Matt Damon 

Matt Damon received his university education at Harvard and left just twelve credits short of graduating

Matt Damon received his university education at Harvard and left just twelve credits short of graduating

Matt Damon received his university education at Harvard and left just twelve credits short of graduating.

He studied English Literature during his time at the prestigious instution and it was there he wrote an essay that would later become the screenplay for Good Will Hunting which he co-wrote with his friend Ben Affleck. 

In 2013, he was awarded the Harvard Arts Medal which excellence and demonstrated achievement in the arts by an alum. 

Melinda Messinger

Melinda Messinger made her name as a glamour model but later underwent a drastic career transition when she trained as a psychotherapist

Melinda Messinger made her name as a glamour model but later underwent a drastic career transition when she trained as a psychotherapist

Melinda Messinger made her name as a glamour model but later underwent a drastic career transition when she trained as a psychotherapist.

Appearing on Loose Women, she said: ‘In 2010, I started retraining. I thought, I have children, I have bills to pay. I was working in television and there was no sign of that letting up. 

‘I thought, I can carry on doing what I’m doing but how painful would that regret be? I made the decision to go for it and I’ve been practising for the last five years and I can tell you, it’s the best thing I’ve ever done.’ 

Lisa Kudrow

Although she became a hugely successful actress, Lisa Kudrow almost had another career as a scientist

Although she became a hugely successful actress, Lisa Kudrow almost had another career as a scientist

Although she became a hugely successful actress, Lisa Kudrow almost had another career as a scientist.

After earning a BA in Biology, she worked with her father Lee in his research into headaches and even had a research credit on one of his studies. 

After appearances on TV shows like Cheers and Mad About You, Lisa hit the big time in 1994 when she was cast as Phoebe Buffay on Friends. 

Kesha

Kesha is reported to have an IQ of 140 and received an SAT score of 1500, just short of the 1600 maximum

Kesha is reported to have an IQ of 140 and received an SAT score of 1500, just short of the 1600 maximum

While she’s best known for belting out hits including TikTok, Blah Blah Blah and Your Love Is My Drug, Kesha’s talents aren’t confined to music.

The singer is reported to have an IQ of 140 and received an SAT score of 1500, just short of the 1600 maximum. 

She previously revealed in an interview: ‘I used to really get off on math, like math makes me hot. Like I love it.’

Cindy Crawford 

Before becoming one of the most famous models in the world, Cindy Crawford studied chemical engineering with mathematics at Northwestern University

Before becoming one of the most famous models in the world, Cindy Crawford studied chemical engineering with mathematics at Northwestern University

Before becoming one of the most famous models in the world, Cindy Crawford studied chemical engineering with mathematics at Northwestern University.

She attended the university on a scholarship but dropped out after a year to pursue modelling full-time.  

She also earned high grades throughout her school years and was her high school valedictorian when she graduated in 1984.  

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