Results of the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Examination (HKDSE) were released on Wednesday, as 11 pupils were named ‘scholars’ after attaining the top results in the territory-wide examination.

The HKDSE – effectively the university entrance examination in Hong Kong – was attended by 74,131 candidates this year, a 7% decrease from last year. The number of day school candidates who met the general entrance requirements for local undergraduate university programmes was 40.3%, or 25,544 students, a figure similar to the previous year’s. They will compete for about 15,000 places in local universities.

Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education Examination.
Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education Examination. Photo: Apple Daily

The 11 ‘scholars’ managed to score the highest grade in seven subjects of the HKDSE. They are from eight local English-language secondary schools, including ‘traditional elite schools’ Diocesan Girls’ School, King’s College, St. Mary’s Canossian College and Queen’s College. Four other schools, St. Paul’s School Lam Tin, HKTA Tang Hin Memorial Secondary School, STFA Leung Kau Kui College and HKUGA College, also had pupils attaining the top result.

The top grade a student can attain in subjects belonging to the senior secondary subjects category is 5**.

King's College scholar
A student from King’s College attaining the top score in HKDSE. Photo: Apple Daily

Students have to attain the following scores in the HKDSE to be eligible to apply for local universities:

  • level 3 in both Chinese Language and English Language
  • level 2 in both Mathematics compulsory part and Liberal Studies
  • level 2 in any of the elective subjects

However, students generally have to score higher than the threshold to enter undergraduate programs due to intense competition.

University of Hong Kong. Photo: WikiMedia

Student-support organisation Hok Yau Club said there are only about 15,000 university places in Hong Kong. It estimated that less than 60% of all students who met the threshold would be able to enter subsidised degree programmes.

In an interview with HKFP, vice-director of student guidance centre of Hok Yau Club, Ng Po-shing, explained that students who cannot enter local undergraduate programs can apply for self-financed degree programmes, sub-degree programmes, or higher diploma programmes in vocational training centres.

Candidates are required to obtain level 2 in both Chinese Language and English Language subjects to be eligible to apply for sub-degree programmes.

Hok Yau club vice director student guidance
Ng Po-shing, vice-director of student guidance centre of Hok Yau Club.

Students who are eligible to apply for university are allowed to modify their programme choices during designated periods from July 16 to July 18. Students who suspect there were errors during the marking process are also allowed to appeal their results before July 20.

The HKDSE is an annual territory-wide examination for Form Six students. The exam is divided into three categories, including 24 senior secondary subjects, applied learning subjects and other language subjects. The 24 senior secondary subjects are further divided into core and elective subjects.

It was introduced in 2012 to replace the Hong Kong Advanced Level Examination, which was attended by Form Seven students. The new curriculum structure shortened secondary education to six years, and required most students to study 4-year undergraduate programs.

On Tuesday, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying expressed his encouragement to pupils and said those who “cannot attain sufficient scores [to enter universities] but wish to continue their studies” can consider applying for higher diploma programmes in vocational training centres.

Eric Cheung

Eric Cheung

Eric is currently a Bachelor of Journalism student at the University of Hong Kong. Eric has his finger on the pulse of Hong Kong events and politics. His work has been published on The Guardian, Reuters and ABC News (America).