Eight candidates in Hong Kong’s university entrance examination achieved perfect scores this year and some 42 per cent of those school students who took the exam met the qualifications for undergraduate courses, officials said.

One candidate in the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education Examination was disqualified after using a mobile phone to browse the internet for answers.

HKEAA Wei Xiang-don Choy Siu-kwan Ricardo Mak Margaret Hui DSE
The Hong Kong Examination and Assessment Authority meeting the press on July 19, 2022. Photo: Lea Mok/HKFP.

Five male and three female students obtained level 5** – the highest score – in four core subjects and three electives, the Hong Kong Examination and Assessment Authority revealed on Tuesday. Four of the eight also reached the perfect score in the mathematics extended module, making them the “super top scorers.”

A total of 49,840 candidates registered for this year’s examination. Among the 42,880 school candidates, 42.1 per cent met the general requirements for applying for local undergraduate degree programmes. It meant they obtained level 3 or above in Chinese Language and English Language and level 2 or above in Mathematics and Liberal Studies.

Schools will hand out the DSE result slips to students on Wednesday morning.

Local examination authorities made special arrangements during this year’s assessment, which began in April amid the fifth and deadliest wave of Covid-19 in Hong Kong. A total of 26 candidates took the examination at Penny’s Bay Community Isolation Facility after they tested positive for the virus, while 18 candidates sat the tests there during their quarantine.

A total of 170 candidates applied for an alternative assessment method of being graded by their school tests, after they were absent from the examination due to sickness and other reasons.

HKDSE 2022 Covid-19 school exam
A Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education examination centre. Photo: Lea Mok/HKFP.

Margaret Hui, head of School Examinations and Assessment, said one candidate was caught cheating in the examination by using a mobile phone to look up information related to the question paper.

Liberal studies

Liberal studies, one of the four core subjects in schools, has been axed and revamped into a new subject called Citizenship and Social Development, which places an emphasis on China. The LS curriculum will be included in the public examination for the last time next year.

Asked if there would be “transitional questions” in the last LS public exam, such as more questions on national security, Choy Siu-kwan, head of assessment development at HKEAA, said there would not be any transitional questions, as the two subjects were too different.

“Liberal studies is a subject with 250 teaching hours… whilst Citizenship and Social Development requires around 150 teaching hours, with a heavily-trimmed syllabus and topics that are different from Liberal Studies. We thus do not intend to set up any transitional questions next year,” Choy said.

HKEAA Wei Xiang-don Choy Siu-kwan Ricardo Mak Margaret Hui DSE
Wei Xiang-dong, secretary general at HKEAA, encourages students to “turn crisis into opportunity”. Photo: Lea Mok/HKFP.

Education minister Christine Choi earlier invited Chief Executive John Lee and other government officials and people to write one Chinese character to show support for this year’s DSE candidates. Lee penned the character “together,” saying he would like to “walk together” with the candidates regardless of what path they choose in the future.

HKEAA secretary general Wei Xiang-dong on Tuesday displayed his choice of word, which translates as “opportunity” in English. He said he hoped DSE candidates could “turn crisis into opportunity.”

“Completing the senior secondary curriculum and taking the HKDSE under the pandemic required unparalleled perseverance and persistence. I am proud of all of you,” Wei said.

Covid-19 impact

On Tuesday, Hok Yau Club Student Guidance Consultant Ng Po-shing said on RTHK that quite a number of DSE candidates enquired about alternative study pathways and were worried they did not perform well in the examination. The student adviser quoted some candidates as saying they came down with Covid-19 before their examination, while others said their performance was affected after they recovered from the virus.

Ng said it would be easier for this year’s DSE candidates to enter the eight publicly-funded universities compared to previous years. It was because the number of students who applied for a university spot through the Joint University Programmes Admissions System fell to a record low of 38,955, thus reducing the competition.

Ng estimated that candidates who acquired 20 marks or above – with level 5* being equivalent to six marks and level 5** being equal to seven marks – would be “rather secure” in getting into one of the eight universities.

Additional reporting: Lea Mok.

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Kelly Ho

Kelly Ho has an interest in local politics, education and sports. She formerly worked at South China Morning Post Young Post, where she specialised in reporting on issues related to Hong Kong youth. She has a bachelor's degree in Journalism from the University of Hong Kong, with a second major in Politics and Public Administration.