In academics, Hong Kong is known for its love of the International Baccalaureate (IB) exams. Every year, thousands of its students work hard in an effort to score top grades. And the islanders continued with their tradition of excellent results in 2018.
The 2018 story
According to the latest reports, 38 Hong Kong students scored a full 45 points on the exam. This is among the highest results for any region in the world, when taking into account the number of students who attended the exam. Performance improved over last year when only 33 students scored the highest mark.
In an interview with Young Post, 18-year-old James Chow, one of the students who scored 45 points in the exam, says that he was “a little bit overwhelmed [at the results]; it’s all kind of surreal in the moment, but it’s just a great feeling to know that all the hard work has paid off,” while also adding: “If you can make sure you have a schedule [to stick to] and find enough time to do other things you enjoy, then you’ll find IB to be a more enjoyable experience.”
The average IB exam score for Hong Kong was 35.96 points, which is about the same as last year. And when compared to the international average, Hong Kong scored six points more. This begs the question — why is Hong Kong obsessed with the IB exams?
Why Hong Kong likes IB exams
Parents in Hong Kong seem to like the comprehensive nature of the IB program and end up encouraging their children to write it as well. The idea that their children will be learning an additional language, together with subjects like humanities, science, math, and arts, all through to their graduation, is something that appeals to a lot of parents who are looking to provide their children with an excellent education.
“We consider the International Baccalaureate to be a strong program of preparation for undergraduate work, The coursework is rigorous and integrated, and because the IB examinations are administered uniformly around the world, they provide a good basis for comparing the level of accomplishment across different student contexts. We feel that pupils who take the full baccalaureate and score highly will be well prepared for university,” the South China Morning Post quotes Tom Conroy, spokesman of Yale University.
And then there are studies that show the IB exams prepare students much better for university education than other exams, since the preparation involved does a good job of training them to deal with large volumes of research. It has also been suggested that applications from students who take IB exams may be preferred by higher education admission tutors in the UK as compared to applications from A-level students, since the IB is better able to differentiate from A-level.
The IB program has three components — the program in the primary years, middle years, and the sixth-form diploma. Globally, only about 200 schools provide all three components of the full IB program. And in Hong Kong, there are only five institutions offering the full IB. However, about 29 schools in Hong Kong provide the IB diploma program. And in mainland China, there are 95 schools offering the diploma.