Singaporean Isaac Lim is one of 30 in the world to get a perfect score in the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme.
|CN PHOTO: Desmond Tan
The International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme is taken by students worldwide as an alternative way to gain entry into university. Recognized in over 2,000 schools in 75 nations, the challenging two-year course requires students to complete assessments in six subjects, submit two long essays, and perform community service. Each year, only 30 students attain a perfect score of 45 points.
This year, a Singaporean, 19-year-old Isaac Lim is part of that group of students, ranked in the top 30 globally to score their perfect 45 this year.
Currently serving in the National Service, the Anglo-Chinese School (Independent) graduate describes the experience as one of the most trying years of his life so far.
“Either by choice or circumstances, I found myself having to juggle numerous responsibilities and commitments in school, at home and in church. The pressure began to take its toll on me as it sapped my energy, leaving me with little time to concentrate on my studies. Although I had never truly struggled with my grades prior to the course, I found myself floundering under the tremendous pressure of the expectations mounted by all the people around me—teachers, friends, parents and above all, myself.”
He even described how the stress cumulated into bouts of insomnia during the exam period. “I found that for the first time in my life, I suffered from insomnia. I would lie awake in bed, worrying unnecessarily about the coming exams. The solution? I literally prayed myself to sleep, telling God that if I did manage to achieve the ‘perfect score’ I would give Him all the glory and the honor, because I knew that I could never achieve it of my own accord.”
The enthusiastic Christian attributes much of his academic success to his faith in God and encouraging sermon messages from the pulpit. “Constantly challenged by the weekend messages by Pastor Kong, cell group meeting messages and the encouragement from my parents, I decided to make the necessary sacrifices. It meant forsaking internet forms of communication, such as MSN and Skype, as well as the ever addictive Youtube. Instead, I invested time in studying, doing test papers and praying. I’ve been a Christian for pretty much my whole life,” he says.
He also describes the encouraging environment he had throughout the busy exam period to support him. “All the people in my life played a really important role in helping me through the tough examination period. My family really helped me through by being really quiet when they knew I was at home studying. During the exams, my mother met up daily with a group of other mothers to literally pray through the papers. My friends were willing to share and exchange notes, which made studying a lot more efficient for everyone and resulted in our school managing to achieve better results on average.”
Raring to climb his next mountain, Lim says: “I hope to be able to pursue a degree in the Wharton Business School in the University of Pennsylvania. I would also love to start investing in the stock market, which I have been following sporadically over the years, but have yet to get into action.”
Reflecting on the achievement, Lim said: “Success comes with sacrifice. You have to devote time and effort into practicing the same type of problems again and again, so much so that the process of answering a question becomes intrinsic and almost mechanical—especially for math. In order to do well, you have to really want it.”