As local institutions released the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP) exam results yesterday, there were bright spots in a few schools around the island.
For the first time, Hwa Chong International School (HCIS), Singapore Sports School (SSP) and St Joseph's Institution (SJI) had perfect scorers in the exams held last November.
HCIS had two students with 45 points, the maximum score, while SSP and SJI had one student each.
SSP's top scorer Sabrina Chau, 18, was unsure about how her results would turn out.
"I was expecting 40 or 41 points. It still hasn't quite sunk in (that I scored 45 points), but I am happy about it because this will open a lot of doors for me," said the golfer.
Sabrina, who has played the game for 12 years, credited it with helping her calm her nerves.
"Golf is a long game, so for a prolonged period of time, you can't let the nerves get to you," she said.
"I went for my exams the same way I go to golf competitions, and I was actually quite cheerful about (preparing for the exams)."
She is one of 57 students here in local and international institutions who achieved the perfect score.
The stellar performer, Anglo-Chinese School (Independent), had 48 top scorers, up from 41 last year.
In a statement released by the school, ACS(I) principal Winston Hodge said: "We have implemented the IBDP for 10 years now and have found that its holistic and broad-based approach cultivates in our students the values, instincts and skills necessary for the future."
ACS(I) student and national swimmer Rachel Tseng, 19, also scored well in her IB examinations, obtaining 43 points despite training 10 times a week until the month before her examinations.
"Prioritising my time was very important to me, so I set a schedule and tried my best to follow it," she said.
The IBDP is a two-year programme conducted in 22 institutions in Singapore. Students take six subjects and Theory of Knowledge, a course that combines philosophy, religion and logical reasoning.
Research, a second language, a 4,000-word essay and community service are also components of the programme.
The IB organisation also offers the IB Career-related Certificate (IBCC), a programme designed to facilitate career-related learning. Students undertake only two or three subjects and take part in industrial attachments to gain hands-on experience.
Yesterday at the School of the Arts (Sota), Ms Gillian Rubiyanto, 19, received her IBCC diploma after seven years at Sota.
She was diagnosed with bone cancer in 2010 and spent a year out of school for treatment.
Despite experiencing two relapses and taking her exams just weeks after being discharged from the hospital, she received top marks for visual arts and six out of seven points for her mother tongue subject.
Ms Rubiyanto said her illness has taught her to be more open-minded in accepting help from people. She was very reluctant to sit the exams when she was discharged, but a teacher helped her in her revision.
She said: "I am happy that I am among the top scorers in my (programme)."
Correction note: This story was edited for clarity.