[First published on 09 July, 2013] Hong Kong pupils have outperformed their overseas peers in one of the most globally recognised pre-tertiary exams. Some 850 pupils from six English Schools Foundation secondary schools who sat the examination for the International Baccalaureate (IB) diploma in May notched up an average score of 34.6. And six of them got perfect scores of 45. That compares with the global average of 29.8. Twenty-seven pupils from direct subsidy school St Paul's Co-educational College received an average score of 40.7. Five of them achieved a near-perfect 44. And over 100 pupils from the Canadian International School got an average score of 35.5. Six subjects worth a maximum seven points each must be completed in the two-year secondary programme. To pass, pupils need a score of at least 24. It is offered by 26 schools here. Shirley Wang Yayuan of South Island School, one of the six ESF pupils who got full marks, plans to study biological sciences at the University of Oxford. She says her battle with a life-threatening skin disorder, Stevens-Johnson syndrome, initially got her interested in biology and health. "My experience compelled me to always try my best, taught me to remain optimistic and made me grateful for the education I've been able to receive," Wang said. Cora Cheung Ying-ying, of Island School, also got top marks. She plans to go to the Royal Veterinary College in London. She said it was important to strike a balance between study and play. "When I started the IB, I cut out all the fun - like watching TV," she said. "But I soon realised that wasn't the best way to study for the IB. I could actually focus more if I could relax and have fun." Many of her peers have applied to universities in Britain and the United States, but ESF top-scorer, Shreenidhi Subramaniam, of West Island School, wants to study medicine at Chinese University. "Hong Kong universities provide some of the best medical programmes in the world," she said. "I feel quite privileged to be in the place I'm now in, so I want to give back to the community and help those who get cancer." Wong Tin-wan, one of the top performers at St Paul's, said she chose the IB programme because she was worried she wouldn't do well in the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education exam, particularly in liberal studies. She planned to study medicine at either Chinese University or the University of Hong Kong.