Published: 06:00, 03 December 2019
| Updated: 06:54, 03 December 2019
A child genius who aged 11 already had a higher IQ than Stephen Hawking is preparing for his greatest test yet - an interview at Cambridge.
Dover brainbox Mihail Iulian Barascu, known to pals as "Iulian", has applied to study computer science at the prestigious university.
He is facing a grilling from the daunting dons at Queens' College later this month. But it won't be the first time he's had to answer difficult questions under intense pressure.
When Iulian was 12, he starred on Channel 4's Child Genius programme, making it through to the semi-final stage.
Five years on, he admits his mates like to play clips from the show to tease him.
"Some of my friends find it quite amusing," he says.
"But it was one of those things. I think most people can look back at their pre-teen and teenage years and find it embarrassing and funny in equal measure."
Iulian grew up in Romania where, aged about seven, a teacher told his parents that he could be tackling secondary school standard tasks.
He also had a remarkable memory and could easily recite entire poems.
The family moved to the UK in 2009 and later settled in Dover.
Aged 11, Iulian took a Mensa test and achieved an IQ score of 162, the highest possible mark. The average IQ ranges between 90 and 109.
The same year his first novel - Necromancer - was published.
And despite taking A levels in maths, further maths, chemistry, physics and economics, he still has a very strong creative side to his personality and a passion for the arts.
The 17-year-old is currently rehearsing three times a week with the Marlowe Youth Theatre in Canterbury, taking up the role of Diomedes in Shakespeare's Troilus and Cressida.
Iulian said: "I enjoy the artistic side to life quite a bit. I still read a lot now and like cinema a lot."
His teachers decided he could skip Year 10 at school. So after spells at Sir Roger Manwood's, Dover College and even a year back in Romania, he is now in his final year of sixth form at Dover Grammar School for Girls.
Despite his vast intellect, and securing an interview at Cambridge a year earlier than most, he insists he enjoys the same sort of pursuits as his peers. And being so brainy actually means he gets more free time.
"Some of my friends have the same ambitions as me," he says.
"It might be annoying to some people, but because I find it easier to learn, I don't have to spend so much time studying.
"I can afford to party."
Yet Iulian has no intention of squandering the incredible talent he has been blessed with.
"It's a great privilege," he says. "Some people are born with money. I've been given this gift.
"I think about how I can use it and not waste it."
Julian previously lived in Dover's Gateway flats but has now moved to Victoria Park with dad Gheorghe, 42, a supply teacher, and mum Gabriela, 46, a dentist.
He had just finished a driving lesson in Canterbury when his proud dad called him to let him know about the letter from Cambridge.
"I'm quite excited," says Iulian, who is inspired by inventor Nicola Tesla and hopes to specialise in the field of artificial intelligence.
Is he confident of securing a place at the university, ranked second in the world?
"I would say tentatively," he adds.
"When you finish school, you're setting out on your own. It's an important moment of everyone's life."
More by this authorPhil Hayes
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