11 Apr, 2017
10 : 00
Congratulations to Victor Lin from Year 9! Victor has achieved some outstanding results recently in some of the most rigorous competitions in Hong Kong. He received the 'Gold Award (Secondary Section)' and 'Most Outstanding Candidate Award' for Maths as well as the 'Most Outstanding Candidate for Problem Solving' in this year’s World Class Arena Elite Competition. Victor also received an award on behalf of YCIS. The award ceremony was held on March 18. This is Victor's fourth Gold Award in this competition!
Victor is an incredibly talented student. He also won a Silver Award and 1st Honor at the National Maths Olympiad Competition this year. He will represent Hong Kong in the finals to take place this July in Beijing or Shanghai.
Victor took some time out to talk to us about what it takes to successfully compete and his future aspirations.
Can you remember when you first thought you might be gifted in mathematics?
Actually, I couldn’t really remember. I guess I was too young. I only heard from my parents that I could count from 1 to 100 when I was 18 months old; could add and subtract up to 3 digit numbers accurately by the age of two, and memorise my times tables up to 20x20 by the age of three. I remember that my favourite toy was a calculator. Later when I was studying at YCIS Primary, I was always placed in the most advanced mathematics class of each year, yet still found it way too easy. By then I started to be sure that I was quite talented in mathematics. I am thankful to our YCIS Primary’s classification system for mathematics classes. It helped me to realise my inborn gifts and gave me a solid foundation to deal with greater challenges and difficulties ahead.
What made you decide to enter mathematics competitions?
One of my mother’s friends suggested that I should test my talent with CTY (Center for Talented Youth, an organisation under the Johns Hopkins University in the USA, the earliest organisation in the field of Gifted Education). When I was in Year 5 (Grade 4), I had my first Talent Search Test with CTY, and I won the membership with “High Honor”, meaning, I not only proved myself to be a gifted child, but also scored extremely high, at the 99 percentile (top 1%) when compared with students in two grades above me. Since then I've been labeled as an official “gifted student”. At that time, YCIS Primary also recommended me to the Hong Kong Academy for Gifted Education (HKAGE) as their member, so that I could have access to more advanced mathematics events and activities outside the classroom. This obviously gave me more opportunities, and confidence to pursue challenges in different mathematics competitions.
How old were you when you entered your first competition? How did you get on?
When I was 10 years old, I entered the World Class Test which is an international initiative devised by the UK Education Bureau. It targets eight to 14-year-old students and provides internationally benchmarked assessments in reflecting students’ mathematics and problem-solving abilities. In my first attempt, I won Double Distinction (Distinction in both subjects of Mathematics and Problem Solving) in the 2013 Autumn Individual Competition. I qualified to enter the Elite Competition (Final) in Feb. 2014, and I won my first Gold Award. I was one of the top few among the Gold Award winners, to win a scholarship from World Class Arena to study in CTY summer programme.
What are the best and worst parts about competing?
The best part is the opportunity to challenge yourself, to know where you stand among people of the same age or qualifications, and the honour and pleasure you receive from the awards. The worst part is, of course, the pressure (to win) with it. This pressure is not given from YCIS, nor from my parents, but from myself. I am a perfectionist just like most of the gifted students, as I always pursue perfection. Luckily all these years, I have learned how to deal with such pressure.
How did you prepare for the World Class Test and the National Mathematics Olympiad Competitions?
Honestly speaking, I never prepare for them, especially for the World Class Test. The reason that I did not prepare for those competitions was due to the fact that most of the competitions I participate are mostly not school math. They are either Math Olympiad or problem-solving; it is a test of your logical thinking and skills and is usually above year/grade level. Self-preparation does not help much.
What career do you think you will have?
I have not quite figured it out at this moment. All I know is that I want to study in the domain of mathematics and its related disciplines in one of the world's top universities.
Who do you most admire?
I keep changing the person I admire the most. I used to admire Albert Einstein, a great genius inventor. But now I admire John Forbes Nash Jr., a great American mathematician who made fundamental contributions to game theory and won the Nobel Prize in 1994 and the Abel Prize in 2015. It was such a tragedy that he and his wife died in a car accident when they were back home from receiving Abel Prize. It was heartbreaking that the world lost two beautiful minds. I will always remember him and the great contribution he made to humankind. I wish I could be like him one day, to be able to invent something to improve human life.
How do you keep motivated?
As I mentioned, I am a perfectionist. I always pursue excellence. It is a self-motivation and the self-esteem that came out from an inner part of me naturally. All my teachers and peers know that I take everything I do seriously, be it mathematics-related or not. I have received the Overall Achievement scholarship award for the previous two school years consecutively. Of course, the scholarship, the awards, and honors that I have won, keep me motivated to be better and better.
How does YCIS help you through competitions?
YCIS - Secondary helped me in the sense that they allowed me to skip the 2 years mathematics curriculum, and encouraged me to self-study during the Year 10 IGCSE Mathematics Extended (0607) when I was in Year 8, and now I am self-studying Year 11 IGCSE Additional Mathematics (0606) in Year 9. I passed the IGCSE public exam in Extended Mathematics with a grade of A* last May, and I have confidence that in the coming May, I will again pass the IGCSE for Additional Mathematics with another A*. All these advanced courses were done by my own self-study, of course with an assigned tutor from the school for questions and homework. I appreciate YCIS for having faith in me, believing that I should not continue in the normal year-based curriculum, and should pursue a much more advanced curriculum to develop myself. This was the most precious gain for me as having a good self-learning skill is exactly what a student needs for higher education. Also, having the chance to skip the Year 8 and 9 curricula, to learn the Year 10 and 11 advanced mathematics instead was a huge help for all those competitions.
What do you like to do in your free time?
I love eating, swimming, playing piano and composing music, watching movies and TV shows, and traveling, especially to the cold climate countries to enjoy some snow.
What goals do you have for the rest of this year and for the future?
For the rest of the year, I still have several competitions including the spring season of the World Class Tests, Pui Ching final competition, Canadian Competition and the IGCSE public exam for Additional Math in May. My wish is to receive another A* for Additional Math, and Distinction/Gold Award again for other math competitions. I also have a Graded piano exam with ABRSM for Grade 8 piano in May. I really hope I can get another Distinction just like my Grade 7 piano exam last year.
What tips do you have for other students who might be thinking of competing in maths competitions?
These are my three tips: