YEARS of studying hard have paid off for St Paul's Grammar student Kelly Li who scored full marks in the International Baccalaureate.
Kelly is one of only 109 students worldwide who achieved a perfect score of 45 in the high school program.
The mark is the equivalent of an Australian Tertiary Admissions Rank of 99.95.
Kelly, who lives in Quakers Hill, plans to study law and has applied to local universities as well as Oxford.
She was born in China and only came to Australia and began learning English when she was 10.
Despite the language barrier, she quickly caught up with her classmates and was named dux of her school.
The IB requires students to choose a broad range of subjects and complete community and arts work, which Kelly satisfied by playing piano and doing the Duke of Edinburgh Award.
Although she could have done the more commonly studied Higher School Certificate, Kelly preferred the IB as her teachers are experienced in it and raw marks are not scaled.
Kelly was surprised to receive a perfect score as she thought she had done poorly in her final exams.
She said the secret to her academic success was hard work and persistence, although relaxing between exams was also important.
"Just be consistent in your work, don't leave things to the last minute and don't rely on your teachers too much; there are some things you need to do for yourself," she said.
"I think it's important to be balanced and not to overstress about work . . . I got together with friends and that's a good way to de-stress."