[First published on 08 July, 2016] For a student who has achieved all A*’s in his GCSE’s, getting a perfect score on the International Baccalaureate Diploma is the next step – but it comes at a price. “That perfectionism broke me because it made me obsessed with being perfect. I felt a lot of pressure because I feel like a lot of people expected me to get perfect scores,” Garrick Wan, a student from South Island School said. He describes having suffered through continuous years of neck pain, a physical manifestation of the stress that comes with studying. His hard work has paid off, however, as he will be attending the London School of Economics next year to study Actuarial Science. Wan is one of seven students from the English Schools Foundation schools to achieve perfect scores – 45 points – on the 2016 International Baccalaureate Diploma examination. Another student from West Island School to achieve the perfect score, Howard Yoo Hyun Chae, found that his careful planning helped him avoid the extreme stress that usually surrounds the examination time. “I had developed a routine beforehand which helped me cope with the stress,” he said, describing his day, where he has two to three hours of leisure time after school before studying again. “My parents never pressured me, but there is a collective mindset to get that perfect score. I felt that pressure from my peers,” he added. King George V School saw two of its students achieve the maximum score. Grace Wang, a local Hong Kong resident, will be attending Stanford University in the fall as an undecided major. Wang is the only one out of the seven who will attend an American university. “The flexibility of the States is a big plus since I’m undecided,” she said. “In terms of academics, it is a top notch university and there are limitless opportunities and there’s the energy of intellectual exploration.” Despite the ever lofty goal of achieving the maximum score, this year’s results from ESF saw a decrease in students who received 45 points. Last year saw a total of 17 students. There were 147 students across the world who got 45 points in this year’s examination with ESF students making up a little under 5 per cent of that total. The average score for the ESF students was 36.1 points, compared to a worldwide average of 30.1 points. Of the 952 students who sat the IB Diploma, 99 per cent were awarded the diploma. Another 24.7 per cent of ESF students achieved 40 points or more, which was higher than the global average of 5.1 per cent. This is ESF’s eighth year of adopting the IB Diploma.