When 11-year-old Jireh Eunice Flores was told she had beaten every other student in the Middle East in an English test this month, she couldn't believe it.
The youngster made just two mistakes in the 50-question International Benchmark Test Award for Excellence in English this month, putting her on top of her regional peers.
"I was shocked, I didn't expect it. But God willed it to happen," Flores told Gulf News.
Flores, a Filipino fifth grader from the United International Private School (UIPS), received a plaque and a Dh500 prize for her achievement.
Flores said that of the three categories in the exam, namely reading comprehension, vocabulary, and grammar, it was the first she enjoyed the most.
"The exam was not very difficult. But I was nervous and I just did my best. I liked the reading comprehension because I like reading stories," Flores said.
And this love for reading has inspired her to write her own book, which she is already halfway through.
"I started writing the book last summer," said Flores, an only child whose dad is an accountant and mum a housewife. "I was inspired by the Nancy Drew mystery stories. So the book I'm writing now runs along the lines of solving mysteries, too."
The IBT is an internationally administered programme of assessments that benchmarks student performance in three subjects: Mathematics, Science, and English.
The Australian Council for Educational Research (Acer), one of the world's leading research and assessment services organisation, regularly conducts the exam in the region.
The UIPS participation in the exams is in pursuit of assessment standards set by the Knowledge and Human Development Authority.
"The school is indeed very proud of this IBT Award of Excellence in English given to Jireh," Dr Eunice Orzame, UIPS principal, said.
"This is a manifestation of the commitment and effort of the teachers and the school in providing necessary skills and competencies and in developing students who can compete academically not only across the emirates but also internationally."
In 2010 another UIPS student, Filipino third-grader Emmanuelle Coleen Landayan, received the IBT Award for Excellence in Science.