Results for the Hong Kong Diploma for Secondary Education (DSE) were released on Wednesday, with six students achieving top marks and the rest competing for a limited number of university places.

The DSE – effectively Hong Kong’s university entrance exam – was taken by 61,600 candidates this year – a 9.5 per cent decrease from last year. Of these students, the number of day school candidates who met the general entry requirements for local undergraduate degree programmes was 20,885 students, or 40.9 per cent.

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HKDSE exam hall. Photo: Wikicommons

The current number of available first-year places is approximately 14,600, across the city’s eight publicly-funded universities. Around 30 per cent of this year’s cohort will have to pursue other local or international options in the form of self-financed programmes, should they seek higher education.

To achieve top marks, a student must receive a level 5** in each of their seven secondary school subjects. Students attaining this result are known as ‘scholars’.

The scholars of this cohort came from Belilios Public School, Diocesan Girls’ School, Munsang College, Queen’s College, and St. Paul’s Co-Educational College.

One student, Maggie Lam from Diocesan Girls’ School, was deemed a “super-scholar” by local media after she attained a level 5** in both the compulsory and extended mathematics examinations.

maggie lam dse super-scholar
Diocesan Girls’ School’s Maggie Lam, dubbed a ‘super-scholar’ by local media.

Chief Executive Carrie Lam said in a video on Tuesday that she had returned to her alma mater, St. Francis’ Canossian College, to give students her best wishes.

“I encourage everyone to adopt a calm attitude tomorrow in the face of examination results,” she said. “Hong Kong has a diverse set of pathways for you. The most important thing is to remain confident in yourself.”

carrie lam st francis canossian
Carrie Lam at her alma mater. Photo: Carrie Lam/Facebook screenshot.

The HKDSE is an annual territory-wide examination for Form Six students.

Jun Pang is an independent writer and researcher. She has previously worked in NGOs advocating for refugees' and migrants' rights in Asia and Europe.