The Academic Elite

by Eddie Rayner

This year’s results of the International Baccalaureate (IB) exams show that UAE students have once again performed well above the global average (29 points).

The IB Organization report that 7.2% out of the approximately 170,000 students globally who sat the exam this May have scored 40 points or more. Moreover, students scoring the highest possible 45 points, which is annually achieved by about 200 students in the entire world, are placed in the top one percentile, with Finley Bettsworth from Jumeirah English Speaking School (JESS) being part of the elite.

Around 2,000 students in the Emirates have achieved an average of 32 points, compared to the global score of 29 points.

Finley Bettsworth admits he was a little surprised by his ‘perfect’ score: “I certainly didn’t expect it! I think that made it all the more exciting actually. I felt a real sense of achievement and accomplishment, as it is definitely a rather epic culmination of the last two years of school!”

So where does Finley go from here? “I’m not quite sure what could surpass this, but I’m off to Oxford University in October to study medicine. Eventually, I’d love to be a surgeon, but that is still quite a long way off.”

Asked what his thinking was behind choosing the IB programme, Finley responds: “I really loved its uniquely broad approach. As subjects, I enjoy both English and the sciences, an otherwise incompatible combination to study unless I did IB as per university requirements. The core components of the Extended Essay and Theory of Knowledge both really interested me as well. This meant the IB programme was perfect for me.

“I tried to stay continually on task throughout the whole two years. Leaving time to relax was important too, so I didn’t overwhelm myself,” concludes Finley, who believes that continuous hard work pays off much more than a panicked cram just before the exam season.

Hard Work, Power Naps, and Heavy Metal

Keith Nicholas Gironella, now a graduate of Aldar Academies Al Bateen Academy, is in the top seventh percentile in the world with a score of 41 points, saying: “It was a surreal moment. It felt so good to realise that I am better than I imagined myself to be! Taking the IB programme was a leap out of my comfort zone. It was a leap that I needed to take in order to grow as a person. IB helped me learn to multitask.

Keith Nicholas Gironella

“There were six subjects, with each requiring writing tasks, extended essays, and CAS hours to complete in a span of 20 months. It took an extraordinary amount of strength and patience to maintain discipline and order in my day-to-day activities.

“However, I ensured that I was also just a normal kid who relaxes and plays PS4 or Nintendo Switch. I did my work at school, came home and enjoyed a little rest and relaxation, and then it was back to solving maths problems while listening to metal music until I dozed off. Oh, and I catch my power naps in the car and during my breaks all the time.”

Keith, who will shortly be heading off to either Manchester University or the University of Waterloo, has just one piece of advice for fellow students: “Preparing for examinations is stressful enough, so no need to stress yourself more. Prepare early, manage your time, and do not procrastinate.”