CATHERINE Zheng thought her perfect International Baccalaureate score was a practical joke.
A flood of congratulatory messages first alerted the 18-year-old to the result. She nervously laughed it off, until her friends referred her to the school website. ‘‘There it was. ‘‘Then I thought maybe it was a really elaborate practical joke.
‘‘My friends and school had to be pranking me, the results weren’t out until the next day,’’ the Hillsborough teenager says.
But finally, the news sank in.
Only 0.3 per cent of students receive 45/45 worldwide and this year just four students in New Zealand achieved the result.
Two were from St Cuthbert’s.
Zheng, who sat 13 exams at the end of last year, says it was a long road to success.
The two-year diploma includes exams in six subjects, a 4000-word essay and a community project.
‘‘IB is about having commitment even when things get really hard, when you are one year down but you still have the entire second year to do,’’ Zheng says.
She also sat seven NZQA scholarship exams.
Zheng’s classmate Cerys Chau also secured a perfect score in IB.
‘‘It opens a lot of doors for you. All the universities want you if you have a 45,’’ Chau says.
The teachers and her fellow students were vital to gaining the top result, the Epsom girl says.
‘‘We petitioned together to get a longer study leave.
‘‘We had so much content to revise, we needed longer.
‘‘That is the kind of cohort we were – dedicated to more study.’’
The University of Sydney has offered places to both girls to study a dual degree in medicine.
Chau is also waiting to hear if she has been accepted into the medicine programme at Monash University in Melbourne.
Bright future: St Cuthbert’s College students Cerys Chau, 18, and Catherine Zheng, 18, both received perfect scores of 45 in the International Baccalaureate qualification.