Form six students worried about 2022 HKDSE readjustments

written by Jessie Larbi

Chiu Lut Sau Memorial Secondary School entrance, source: Jessie Larbi

On 28 February, it was announced by the Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority (HKEAA) that the 2022 Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education Examination (HKDSE) would start on 22 April 2022 tentatively. The newly updated examination timetable could be checked out here.

With rising coronavirus cases in the last couple of weeks, the HKEAA will be compressing the examination period, with the following plans:

  • The four core subjects will start first
  • Major electives such as science and humanities will be examined earlier on alternate days; smaller entry subjects will be held later
  • Some examinations will be scheduled on holidays 
  • Some examinations will be scheduled either in the morning or afternoon session on the same day, thus candidates could sit for two examinations of different subjects on the same day
  • Results release date remains tentatively on 20 July
  • Compulsory COVID-19 rapid antigen testing before entry into examination halls

Contingency plans were also developed in case of a deteriorating pandemic situation by early April. Students may face a possible postponement until mid-May or early June, depending on the severity of the pandemic by early April or late April respectively. However, if cases were to persist through mid-May, they could face possible cancellation of the 2022 HKDSE. The HKEAA will in place use internal school assessment marks to generate candidates’ HKDSE results.

As for students absent from the examinations due to positive antigen test results, mandatory quarantine, pending compulsory test results, or COVID-19-related illnesses, they can apply to the HKEAA through schools for their subject results to be assessed.

With much uncertainty shrouding the 2022 HKDSE, we asked a few form six students and a teacher about their concerns regarding these drastic measures.

Ko Cheuk Yin, an 18-year-old student from Holy Trinity College, studying Economics and Business, Accounting, and Financial studies (BAFS) electives said, “My concern is that my efforts [will] go down the drain since I doubt the result[s] of rapid antigen tests. If I’m tested false positive, I cannot join the examination and [this will] affect my overall score. At the same time, [an] examiner who tests false negative [will be allowed to] join the examination, and [this may] lead to an outbreak. Students’ safety can’t be ensured and it will affect the remaining examination.” These worries are not just shared with Ko Cheuk Yin. 

“To me, postponing the exam may be a better choice as students are currently facing lots of challenges to stay focused, like the risk of being infected, time to be spent on compulsory COVID tests, etc.”, said Ms. Ngan Ga Wai, who is an English teacher at Madam Lau Kam Lung Secondary School of Miu Fat Buddhist Monastery, “With Omicron being highly contagious, I can’t see how the current situation is better than two years ago when DSE was postponed. So now I got the timetable and that is extremely stressful for some students.”

Another student from Shatin Tsung Tsin Secondary School – Mok Kwun Hei, Gabriel, said that if the DSE were to be canceled and used mark projections, it would be particularly “unfair”, as the difficulty of mock examinations across schools [was] different. 

Raza Arooj Fatima, a 17-year-old from Our Lady’s College said, “ As many people or even myself haven’t put [our] best into some assessments, [because] after all [they weren’t] as important as DSE. However, everyone will put their best into DSE [because] their future depends on that and so simply using our school results to have [it as] the final DSE score isn’t fair at all.”

“As I teach F.6 this year I would actually expect them to tell us clearly in the press conference how the exam would be squeezed into 3 weeks. Making it shorter can seriously affect students’ planning. Releasing this message without providing the details would add extra stress to DSE candidates.”, said Ms. Ngan.

For the time being, the Public Examinations Board of the HKEAA has approved the contingency plans and timetable readjustment.

edited by Natalie Mak and Joyce Gao

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