|7 Apr 2020|
This year, the International School of Paris is exceptionally proud of one of our graduates, Sulaiman Ilyas-Jarrett. Sulaiman received the maximum 45 points for the IB Diploma – a spectacular score achieved by less than 1% of IB graduates throughout the world. In his letter of congratulations addressed to the school, the IB Director General, Dr. Siva Kumari writes, "These few candidates [who received the 45 points] have demonstrated their ability to perform at the highest level in each subject group as well as in the core."
We spoke to Sulaiman – or Sul, as we call him here at ISP – to find out what his IB Diploma secret was. "Hard work is the secret!" he exclaims. "Aiming for 45 points means that you need to tackle all six subjects full on. It means spending time in the library, reading Shakespeare for entertainment and focusing on what you do. And you still cannot be sure that you'll get it in the end."
Sul was travelling in the car with his family when the results were released at 3pm on a Saturday afternoon. He started getting text messages from his friends, asking, "What did you get, did you get the 45?" but was not able to access the internet from where he was. It was only later that evening, when the family arrived to their destination at a cousin's house, that Sul found out that he had actually scored the highest possible score in his IB Diploma. "I was surprised! While I knew that it was possible for me to get a full 45, I did not believe that I actually would do it."
With predicted sevens for each of his subjects except French, the 45 was in his reach and everyone at the school was hoping for the best. The French teacher told him that with hard work his six could turn into a seven as well, and everyone knew that working hard was Sul's middle name! "I did aim for a seven in all my subjects, but I also studied to learn, not just to be successful in the exams. So, for instance, when I studied French, I did that to be able to speak French, not just to get a good grade. For me, this emphasis on independent study and learning for oneself is the biggest difference between the IB and other programs, and that's why I appreciate the school so much."
Sul came to ISP four years ago from a British GSCE system. "In the IB, you don't get far just by memorizing facts. At ISP, I was all of a sudden asked to think independently and critically, focus on synthesis and learn to apply the knowledge that I gained. This was great preparation for university. I also think that the two years I studied in the Middle Years Programme helped me with accessing and being successful in the Diploma."
Where next? "I'll start at Oxford on Monday, studying history. I've always enjoyed social science, economics and politics, and I feel that history will give me access to all those." Sul received a conditional offer from Oxford already in January, and a "mere" 38 points would have given him access. "Oh, don't get me wrong, they really do make you jump through many hoops to get to Oxford! Five days of interviews, several letters and documents to fill out, long and complicated application letters... it was tough. I would like to thank especially my high level teachers who supported me throughout the process by practicing interviews and writing recommendation letters. I could not have done this without you!"
Hoops or not, Sul made it with flying colors. When I was in touch with Sul regarding the first draft of this article, he told me the following: "Of all the 1 600 history applicants to Oxford I was ranked number 1. I actually only found this out this evening when at dinner with one of my professors and he told me I was judged the best applicant out of all the students who applied to Oxford."
While working hard and concentrating on his studies, Sul was also an active student in the ISP community. He fundraised for and participated in the Ghana humanitarian project, played in various music groups and bands, and was involved in the student council, of which he was the president during his first year of Diploma. "The ISP community is inclusive, and it invites people to get involved."
When asked where he sees himself in fifteen years, Sul replies with confidence, "I would like to work in the context of human rights and economic development. I want to put my brains into use, to help people, and to make this world a better place." Good for him and good for us all.
We will certainly be hearing more about Sulaiman Ilyas-Jarrett in the future!
Lily Hertling started in Mrs. Wright's Grade 3 class in 2005. In 2014, after many happy years at ISP, she was ready to m… More...