[First published on 03 February, 2012] For whizz-kid Alvina Fok, studying is a passion – an attitude that helped her to achieve one of the highest IGCSE (International General Certificate of Secondary Education) scores in the world for both mathematics and science. Fok, 16, was one of 17 pupils in Hong Kong who achieved top scores in the Cambridge international examinations last June, it was announced this week. She was the only Hong Kong pupil to achieve the award for science. She scored 10 A* grades – the highest you can get. Fok, a Year 12 International Baccalaureate pupil at South Island School, said: “I like to ask questions and solve problems. I find that the most important thing is to love what you are learning and read outside of the syllabus. “I have never received pressure from anyone when it comes to academics. All the pressure I get comes from myself.” Fok wants to continue her studies in Hong Kong and stay close to her family. “I want to be a doctor because of my love for biology, and I want to help people.” The Cambridge IGCSE exams are taken in over 40 countries, typically by pupils aged 14 to 16. Six Hong Kong pupils excelled in IGCSE additional maths to achieve the highest scores. Local pupils also excelled in subjects such as global perspectives, IT, environmental management, and language exams in Dutch, French and Mandarin. Rachel Kong, a Year 11 pupil from Island School obtained one of the highest scores in IGCSE Mandarin as aforeign language. She said the key to her success was reading newspapers and novels in Chinese, as well as practising speaking Mandarin with friends and family. Duc Luu, founder and chief executive of The Edge Learning Centre that offers university admissions counselling, said the results were impressive, but grades were not everything. He said many overseas universities gave a lot of weight to an applicant’s extracurricular activities, leadership roles at school and in their community. “Getting straight As will get you into a good university, but it may not get you into a great university,” he said.