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Maths whiz has it all figured out

Local | Phoenix Un Nov 14, 2017
A Hong Kong student, who scored the highest mark globally in mathematics in the Cambridge International Examinations, says he enjoyed the "game" process of solving hard problems.

Bruce Xu, a grade 12 student at the English Schools Foundation's West Island School, achieved the Top World Score of 100 in the International General Certificate of Secondary Education exam in June.

For this he was awarded the "Outstanding Cambridge Learner Award."

Xu, 16, also scored highest in Hong Kong for his AS Critical Thinking Skills besides his remarkable score in maths. Speaking to the media yesterday, Xu, born in New Zealand but living in Hong Kong since he was three, said he was not surprised with the result because the exam questions were "straight forward."

He recalled that he found maths interesting in grade 9 when he participated in a competition. But as clever as he is, Xu still finds questions "all the time" that he cannot solve. So, he said, this is why he enjoys maths over the other subjects.

"Because there are always problems that you don't know how to solve at all, but if you spend time on it, then you slowly understand the problem, and even if you can't solve it, you feel that you've made progress and you've learned something," Xu said. "It's like a game."

Xu believes he can also do the same with other subjects but he would need to memorize things. "If you don't remember them, you can't make any progress at all."

Among all subjects in maths, Xu said he likes geometry most. "It's very visual, you can see it. It's always there and you just need to find the answer."

How much time he spends on preparing for exams depends on his physical condition. "If I feel tired, I won't do it at all, and if I feel energetic, I will spend a whole day, about five hours on it."

Xu is also a coach for his junior schoolmates to prepare for maths competitions, praising them for being clever.

"They are always enthusiastic, and when you tell them something, they absorb it immediately, so you can tell them lots of stuff," Xu said. "It's nice to see them struggling with the same things I struggle with, and I can help them get past the same difficulties."

He still wants to learn more about maths but he was still unsure about what he would like to become in the future. He would, however, like to go to the United States to further his studies.

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November 2017