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Top scholar balances study with sport

“Doing lots of physical activity is key; I would always go out for a surf in between study.”


Student all-rounder Ruby McSweeney says the trick to top results is to stay organised and keep a balance between study and sport.

In results released recently, Ruby achieved a stunning six A* grades (90-100%) in her Cambridge International IGCSE exams. She scored an additional A* grade when she sat Spanish a year earlier.

IGCSE is commonly taken in Year 11 and is the most popular international qualification in the world for 14- to 16-year olds. It is a key benchmarking year of ACG Tauranga’s Cambridge International curriculum, offered as an alternative to NCEA.

While preparing for her exams, Ruby studied four to five hours a day, but maintained a balance between study and sport.

“You don’t need to be studying every day for eight hours. Doing lots of physical activity is key if you want to be productive; I would always go out for a surf in between study.”

She also avoided social media, which made breaks go too quickly.

Now in Year 12, Ruby is the eldest of four siblings at the school and Deputy Head Prefect. A foundation student when ACG Tauranga opened in 2015, she says her favourite part of school life are the teachers willing to answer her many questions, and healthy competition with classmates.

“We are always trying to better ourselves,” she explains.

Outside her academic and leadership responsibilities, she’s a talented surf lifesaver who recently placed in the top three in numerous events at surf lifesaving nationals, and does running, swimming, netball and futsal at school.

Her aim is to study medicine after Year 13 – eventually specialising as a surgeon.

“The fields I have found interest in are orthopaedics, neurology or oncology, however I’m keeping my options open and not limiting myself to just medicine,” she says.

In the 2018 Cambridge International IGCSE exams, ACG Tauranga had a 95% pass rate with 38% of exams achieving an A* or A grade (80% or above).