Two English Schools Foundation pupils who achieved perfect scores in the International Baccalaureate Diploma exams are preparing to fly off to top overseas universities. The number of ESF pupils with outstanding results jumped this year. Of the 726 who took the exams, 76 scored 40 points or above, up from 66 last year, and 15 secured at least 43 points. Two bagged the highest possible score of 45, while just one aced the exams last year. Top scorers Ellen Tung Shue-ting and Alex Yau Yang were among the high achievers who attended a ceremony at King George V School yesterday following a sleepless night on Tuesday, when they waited for results to be released online at 4am. Ellen, of KGV, who took maths, physics and art at higher level and English, history and Spanish at standard level, applied to eight American universities and is planning to study mechanical engineering or architecture and engineering at Princeton. 'I stayed up all night to get my results,' she said. 'I was very relieved when I saw I had a grade of 45 ... Everyone expected me to get 45, and I didn't want to disappoint anyone. 'The IB involves lots of work, and it's difficult - but not as suicidally difficult as many people think. For US universities, there are a lot of requirements - a foreign language and maths and English for example - so the IB Diploma is very suitable.' Alex, of South Island School, took physics, chemistry and maths plus Chinese Language B at higher level, as well as economics and English at standard level. He applied to five British universities and five American ones to study maths. 'I was really ecstatic when I saw that I had got 45,' he said. 'I really enjoyed the greater breadth of study in the IB. The choice for me is between the University of Pennsylvania and Cambridge.' A total of 541 ESF pupils scored 30 points or above, up from 490 last year, and the average score rose from 32.7 to 33.5, while 683 students achieved the passing grade of 24 or above, compared with 691 last year; 28 fewer sat the exams this year. ESF chief executive Heather Du Quesnay said: 'We are absolutely delighted with the improvement we have seen in the results since last year. While we are still analysing the details of our performance, the overall picture is very positive, 15 [percentage points] higher than the world average.' Of the Year 13 pupils across the ESF's five secondary schools, who are the second group to take the IB Diploma after the foundation switched from the British A-levels, 94.1 per cent were awarded the diploma, compared with 78.7 per cent worldwide. Nearly 80 per cent of ESF pupils scored at least 30 points, as against 50 per cent globally, and 11.1 per cent scored 40 points or above - double the global average. ESF parents complained last year that elite British universities were demanding higher grades for the IB Diploma than for the A-levels. John Wray, principal of South Island School, said offers from top British universities were 'much more realistic' this year, particularly for popular subjects such as medicine and law: 'We had students applying to Russell Group universities last year who got offer grades of 38 and 39, but this year the offer grades at these universities were around 35 to 36.'