This post was originally published in the SCMP's Young Post online on 8th July 2019.
German Swiss International School has four students with perfect scores on the International Baccalaureate, while French International School has three.
By Nicola Chan, Karly Cox and Wong Tsui-kai July 08, 2019
Hong Kong’s remaining seven IB top scorers have been revealed, as German Swiss International School and French International School publicly announced their International Baccalaureate results last night and today.
At least 34 Hong Kong students have achieved perfect scores - the maximum 45 points - in this year’s IB examinations, which is four less than last year’s total.
According to the IB’s statistics released on Friday evening, the average grade in Hong Kong was 35.99 points. This is similar to last year’s, and is six points higher than the global average.
The four GSIS top scorers are Sophia Openshaw and Arista Lai, 17, and Jocelyn Wong, and Philip Chenaux-Repond, both 18.
Sophia said she had thought some of the exams didn’t go as well as expected, which made the perfect score extra surprising.
“Naturally, my parents and siblings are very proud of me, but for them, my maintaining a good work-life balance throughout the past two years was far more important than the number itself,” she told Young Post by e-mail.
“Personally, I found keeping up motivation and stamina during the exam weeks the most difficult, especially when my peers had already finished their exams.”
She plans to spend her time in Hong Kong doing some part-time tutoring, preparing for uni and seeing my friends before heading to Cornell University in the US to study biology and society.
Arista, who is hoping to read law at Oxford University in Britain - a dream since childhood - said the biggest challenge approaching the exams was her own outlook.
“There were a couple of setbacks along the way, mostly in relation to my own mindset and confidence. It’s easy to be shaken by one bad paper, even though it could be made up for elsewhere,” Arista said. “I made myself focus and regroup each night, reminding myself to look forward and stay calm even when my mind was on the verge of crisis.”
Her top tip for exam preparation is paying enough attention to mental and physical health. “I believe that feeling comfortable in your own skin and confidently in your ability goes much further than a few extra hours of anxious studying,” she said.
Jocelyn did not expect to get such high scores. She described the night before her results as “torturous ... This was probably because I knew that the result would have quite a big impact on me, as it would essentially determine where I would go or do in the future.” Her late-night worry was for nothing, as she has been accepted onto a medical programme in Hong Kong.
The best study tip she discovered in the run-up to the exams was the importance of a study buddy.
“There was a friend that I met up with almost every day ... we would motivate each other, ask each other about concepts that we were unclear about and, of course, complain about how tough this all was. I think it really helps to have someone there, to know that they are going through the same thing with you.”
Philip found balancing his academic and atheltic pursuits at the same time to be quite challenging, as most of his free time is spent swimming, running or biking as part of his training as a triathlete. He has been accepted to the University of Chicago in the US to study astrophysics - an impressive reward for his success; but after frequent periods of doubt before sitting the exams, he said, “I know that I should not become complacent ... this is just the beginning of another academic challenge.”
His top piece of advice is to continue with your extra-curricular activities during revision. “Stopping these during exam leave is a big mistake that many people make that only negatively influences your mental strength.”
French International School also produced three top scorers, twins Layla and Esme Seaver and Cloe Cheung, all 18.
Cloe said she was surprised by her result as she was not happy with the maths exam. When she checked her results online, she said, she and her family “were jumping and screaming! I thought, 'Is it a joke? Is it fake?'”
Cloe, who said she hasnt properly relaxed for the last two years, advises future IB students to get ahead as much as possible.
“Try to finish the coursework by the end of summer in Year 12 so that you don’t have too much to work on in Y13 and you can just dedicate your time to preparing the exams” she said.
“I also recommend to take a look at your school notes every day, review them constantly, so that when the test comes up you already know the basics because you covered it already.”
Layla, who plans to take a gap year before going to Harvard University in the US to study environmental sciences and engineering, said the hardest thing about preparing for the IB was staying focused. “It’s so easy to get discouraged or feel overwhelmed by the workload and the number of things you need to review.
“I think the key is just taking things one step at a time, and remembering that you can’t know everything perfectly.”