Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education

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Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education
HKDSE Logo.png
Acronym HKDSE
Type Paper-based standardized test
Developer / administrator Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority
Purpose Admission to undergraduate programs of universities or colleges
Year started 2012 (2012)
Duration Vary in different subjects and papers
Score / grade range Test scored on a scale of 5**, 5*, 5, 4, 3, 2, and 1.
Offered Once a year
Countries / regions Hong Kong
Languages English, Traditional Chinese
Annual number of test takers Decrease 59,039 (2018)[1]
Prerequisites / eligibility criteria School candidates: Secondary 6 students approved by school
Private candidates: Familiarity in secondary school curriculum assumed
Fee As of 2019 HKDSE,
Language subjects: HK$644
Other subjects: HK$431
Initial Fee (for private candidates): HK$494[2]
Scores / grades used by Worldwide universities and Hong Kong universities through the JUPAS system
Website hkeaa.edu.hk/en/hkdse/
Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education
Traditional Chinese 香港中學文憑
Notice board shown in HKDSE examination centres.
Candidates leaving the exam centre at Queen's College after sitting for the HKDSE English Language Paper 3 Listening and Integrated Skills examination.

The Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education (HKDSE; Chinese: 香港中學文憑) is an academic qualification offered by Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority (HKEAA).[3] Most candidates taking part in the examination take four "core subjects" (Chinese and English languages, mathematics and liberal studies) and two or three "elective subjects" (choosing subjects from 20 options).[4]

After the launch of the 3-3-4 education system, the HKDSE examination has become the only public examination administered in Hong Kong for secondary school graduates since 2012, as a replacement for the former Hong Kong Certificate of Education Examination (HKCEE) and Hong Kong Advanced Level Examination (HKALE), of which were administered under the previous 3-3-2-3 (English 13 years) system.[5]

Background[edit]

Under the new examination framework, a number of subjects in the HKCEE and the HKALE have been combined to suit the varying interests and abilities of pupils. Candidates are examined on core (compulsory) subjects and on electives of their choice. Most candidates are expected to take four core subjects and two or three electives (see the list below).[6]

Each HKDSE subject composes of a compulsory part and an elective or extended part. The elective or extended part is a "module" of a student's choice, and concentrates on a specific topic or skill. An elective module is an integral component of the standard curriculum, while an extended module is designed for students with specific aim(s) or have higher ability(s) who may want additional knowledge and skills.

  • Elective Part Example: The elective part of the HKDSE English Language curriculum takes up 25% of the lesson time. Modules in the elective part are divided in two groups: Language Arts and Non-Language Arts, both of which are about learning English in different contexts and medium.[7] During the examination, candidates can choose from writing a higher level paper (Paper B2) or a standard level one (Paper B1). Finishing B1 allows the candidate to achieve a maximum grade of 4 while writing B2 allows a 5**.
  • Extended Part Example: HKCEE Mathematics, Additional Mathematics, HKALE Pure Mathematics, Applied Mathematics (except the Mechanics part of the subject, which has been cancelled in the HKDSE)[8], and Mathematics and Statistics were merged into a single new subject simply known as, Mathematics. Candidates who wish to study Mathematics to a higher level have the flexibility to choose whether they would like to take one of the extended part modules: "M1" Calculus and Statistics or "M2" Algebra and Calculus.[9] However, the extended modules are considered as half a subject, despite having syllabuses amounting to a full subject, so they are losing attractiveness to students, therefore declined number of pupils are choosing them.[10][11]

Written examinations of Category A subjects are mostly conducted between early March to early May. Oral examinations and some other subjects are administered at earlier times. Category C subjects are undergone in June (as for French and Spanish, they may be taken the previous November). Category B subjects do not have an oral examination.

Before the exam, candidates have to chance to get familiar with the different level descriptors and samples and may use them as objectives for their study. When results are released, candidates could also have a clearer picture of their attainment level. Thus, tertiary institutions and employers also have a more accurate and robust information for admission or recruitment purposes.

Subjects[edit]

The HKDSE is divided into 3 different categories, including 24 senior secondary subjects, over 40 applied learning subjects and 6 other language subjects.

Category A: New Senior Secondary Subjects[edit]

Category A subjects are traditional school subjects and their exams are administered by HKEAA. Both core (compulsory) subjects and elective subjects are in the criteria of Category A.[12] Results of such subjects are widely accepted for universities admission.

For Mathematics, grades for the extended part (Module 1 and Module 2) are listed separately on the certificates issued by HKEAA.

Core subjects

As for Mathematics, in addition to the compulsory part, candidates can optionally take one of the following extended part modules:

As for Liberal Studies, the subject curriculum features 6 modules, including:[13]

  • Personal Development and Interpersonal Relationships
  • Hong Kong Today
  • Modern China
  • Globalization
  • Public Health
  • Energy Technology and the Environment

However, except when in extreme cases, a passing grade in an extended part cannot be used to comprehend a fail in compulsory part for university admissions (especially for UGC-funded courses).

Electives

Electives subjects can be chosen by students according to their interests and strength. However, a majority of secondary schools does not provide all the 20 choices to the students due to the shortage of teachers in the specific field.

According to the Registration Statistics of 2018 released by the HKEAA, the most chosen subject is Physics, with a total of 11,658 candidates in the HKDSE. The exam allows students to choose 1 to 4 elective subjects. Around 70.4% choose a combination of 4 core subjects and 2 elective subjects, while 17.4% of them chooses 4 core subjects and 3 elective subjects.[14]

2019 HKDSE subject combinations of school candidates[14]
(elective subjects include Categories A, B and C subjects):

  4 core subjects + 1 elective subject (9.0%)
  4 core subjects + 2 elective subjects (70.4%)
  4 core subjects + 3 elective subjects (17.4%)
  4 core subjects + 4 elective subjects (0.2%)
  Other (3%)

Category B: Applied Learning Subjects[edit]

Category B subjects are offered by certain providers, assessments of these subjects are administered by the same, and the results subject to the HKEAA's adjustment. They are vocational-oriented subjects to satisfy the needs of employers.

Applied Learning Subjects may be used by tertiary institutes for admission purposes, in which case it is seen as the equivalent of achieving a Grade 2 in a traditional elective subject for a subject status of "Attained" and Grade 3 for "Attained with Distinction". However, a number of prestigious universities in Hong Kong do not treat Category B subjects to the same status an traditional elective would enjoy for admission purposes.

Areas of studies includes:[15]

  • Creative Studies
  • Media and Communication
  • Business, Management and Law
  • Services
  • Applied Science
  • Engineering and Production
  • Applied Learning Chinese (for non-Chinese speaking students)

Category C: Other Language Subjects[edit]

They may be used to replace Chinese for university admissions for students whose mother tongue is not Chinese, but it may not be used to replace English. It may also be chosen as an elective for native Chinese speaking students, however it won't have the status of alternative language requirement. In some cases, instead of a Category C subjects, a IGCSE Chinese Language pass (or similar Chinese qualification) is required for admission in some institutes for non-Chinese speaking students.

Category C subjects adopt the same paper as the General Certificate of Education AS-level and are provided and are marked by Cambridge International Examinations.[16]

  • Japanese
  • French
  • German
  • Spanish
  • Hindi
  • Urdu

It is also to be noted that educational institutions and/or departments are not obliged in recognising results of Category B and C subjects, though they might consider them as reference materials.

School-based assessment[edit]

The school-based assessment (SBA) is implemented to reduce reliance on the previously "one-off" public oral examination, which features different projects and reports handed in throughout different periods in senior secondary. A majority of subjects, including Chinese, English language and Liberal Studies includes SBA tasks. A fixed weighting is implemented and the marks will be counted towards the HKDSE level grading.[17][18]

Grading[edit]

For Category A subjects in HKDSE, the performance of candidates is categorised and released on a scale of seven levels indicated on the examination certificate. Level 5** is the highest and level 1 the lowest. Distinction levels 5** and 5* (read as five-double-stars and five-star) are awarded to the two best-performing groups of candidates attaining level 5.[6] Unclassified grade (U) are also awarded for extraordinary scenarios such as absence, cheating, or an attempt not reaching the standard of level 1.[19]

Category A: New Senior Secondary Subjects

HKDSE level HKDSE mark shown in result notice Total mark Equivalent grade comparing with other exams Examination result comparison in Physics
HKALE HKCEE UCAS[20] GCE A-Level 2014 HKDSE percentile 2010 HKCEE percentile
as suggested by UK as suggested by HK
Level 5 5** (top 10% of level 5 achievers) 7 A-B A 56 A* A* 2.8% 4.8%
5* (top 30% of level 5 achievers) 6 B-C A 52 A*/A A*/A 11% 14.5%
5 5 C B 48 B A/B 27.3% 32.7%
Level 4 4 4 D C 32 D C 50.1% 57.2%
Level 3 3 3 E D 16 E D 73.8% 79.2%
Level 2 2 2 F E Unavailable Not recognized 90.4% 90.8%
Level 1 1 1 U F 98.1% U
Unclassified U U U U 100% 100%

According to UCAS's expert report, the academic attainment level of the HKDSE exams are comparable to other internationally recognised high school leaving examinations such as the IB Diploma and UK A-Levels. UCAS Tariff points are shown above, excluding core and extension mathematics.

Category B: Applied Learning Subjects

Subjects Result Comparing to HKDSE Category A results
Applied Learning Subjects (excluding ApL (Chinese) "Attained with Distinction (II)" Level 4 or above
"Attained with Distinction (I)" Level 3
"Attained" Unknown
Applied Learning Chinese (for non-Chinese speaking students) "Attained with Distinction" Level 3 or above
"Attained" Unknown

Category C: Other Language Subjects

These subjects are graded by Cambridge International, with grades "a" to "e" (grade "e" being the lowest and grade "a" being the highest). Achievement below grade “e” is not shown on the certificate given to candidates.[21]

Marking[edit]

In the criterion-referenced grading system, experts in related subject matters established the marking standards for each level. Thereafter, level descriptors and examples are constantly reviewed based on syllabus objectives and collected statistical data, including exam statistics and answer scripts. Grading in a criterion-referenced system reflects a candidate's level of attainment in the particular subject and not the place of the candidate in comparison to others.[citation needed]

Markers of the HKDSE are mostly teachers in secondary schools.[22] They are appointed to different assessment centres to perform Onscreen Marking (OSM). Exam papers are first scanned into the database from scanning centres, then distributed to the markers through the computer systems.[23][24]

Admission to local universities[edit]

The HKDSE are designed for local students in Hong Kong to enable them to apply to local universities through the unified system, Joint University Programmes Admissions System (JUPAS).[25] Whilst IB Diploma and other international qualifications are more often taken by private, DSS or international school students. International exams and thus schools using international curriculums are becoming more popular in Hong Kong. Due to the differences between the local and international qualifications, there have been a considerable amount of concern about the emergence of a bipartite education system, based on wealth instead of merit. However, students with solely-international exams result cannot apply through JUPAS, which accounts for a higher portion of admissions to undergraduate programmes in terms of total intake, and many DSS and private schools in Hong Kong either don't maintain an overly expensive school fee or have a very generous scholarship programme for those who could not afford the tuition.[citation needed]

Impact on schools[edit]

One notable impact on schools in Hong Kong is the discontinued need for sixth form colleges due to the cancellation of HKALE and 7th form. Nevertheless, some of such colleges, such as PLK Vicwood KT Chong Sixth Form College, remained in operation as senior secondary schools.[citation needed]

Criticism[edit]

Unbalanced focus[edit]

The HKDSE is criticized for placing too much importance on the four core subjects, which makes the students neglect the elective subjects. Tsui Lap-chee, who was the president of the University of Hong Kong when the HKDSE system was introduced, said that the Education Bureau demanded that the universities set the so-called "3322" as the minimum entry requirement for university degree programs, i.e. a minimal of grade 3 in Chinese Language and English Language, and a minimal of grade 2 in Mathematics and Liberal Studies. The university presidents thought that this was insufficient for studying in universities, and proposed that there should also be a minimal grade requirement for two elective subjects, but the Education Bureau did not accept. He said that many students do not study the optional modules of Mathematics, thus lacking the advanced mathematics knowledge needed for science and engineering, and it is difficult for them to make up for it after they have entered universities.[26]

Hindrance to admission[edit]

Since the launch of the HKDSE, the Chinese language paper is often dubbed as the "paper of death" (Chinese: 死亡之卷).[27] The high expectation are found since Chinese language is the main language of Hongkongers, but around half of all candidates fail the subject annually, hence failing to enter universities under the 3322 entry requirement. It is reported that the authors of the passages used in the Chinese papers found the questions on their on passage in the paper difficult to answer. Elaine Yau from SCMP says that the exam results are "proving [HKDSE] a major hindrance to admission".[28]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Registration Statistics of HKDSE". Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority (HKEAA). Retrieved June 17, 2018. 
  2. ^ "2019 HKDSE Examination Fee Adjustment" (PDF). Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority (HKEAA). Retrieved June 17, 2018. 
  3. ^ "Introduction - HKDSE". www.hkeaa.edu.hk. Retrieved 2018-06-17. 
  4. ^ "HKDSE - Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education". South China Morning Post. Retrieved 2018-06-17. 
  5. ^ "After today, the HKCEE will just be a memory". South China Morning Post. Retrieved 2018-06-17. 
  6. ^ a b "Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education". Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority. Archived from the original on 2007-06-23. Retrieved 2007-06-10. 
  7. ^ "English Language Curriculum and Assessment Guide" (PDF). EMB: Senior Secondary Curriculum and Assessment Guides (Final Version). Curriculum Development Council and the Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2009-03-06. Retrieved 2007-06-10. 
  8. ^ The Mechanics part had dominated the syllabus of Applied Mathematics before other topics like statistics and numerical analysis were introduced, and it focused on applying Newtonian mechanics to analyse various types of mechanical systems.
  9. ^ "Mathematics Curriculum and Assessment Guide" (PDF). EMB: Senior Secondary Curriculum and Assessment Guides (Final Version). Curriculum Development Council and the Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2008-09-20. Retrieved 2007-06-10. 
  10. ^ "側重核心科 近半DSE考生棄科學" (in Chinese). Oriental Daily. 6 January 2017. Retrieved 9 April 2017. 
  11. ^ "無讀新高中數學延伸部分 中大工程學院兩成新生需補底" (in Chinese). HK01. 21 February 2017. Retrieved 9 April 2017. 
  12. ^ "Category A: Senior Secondary Subjects - HKDSE". www.hkeaa.edu.hk. Retrieved 2018-06-17. 
  13. ^ "Liberal Studies - Curriculum and Assessment Guide (Secondary 4 - 6)" (PDF). Curriculum Development Council and The Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority. Retrieved 17 June 2018. 
  14. ^ a b "HKDSE 2018 - Registration Statistics (as of 15 Dec 2017)" (PDF). HKEAA. Retrieved 18 June 2018. 
  15. ^ "Category B: Applied Learning Subjects - HKDSE". www.hkeaa.edu.hk. Retrieved 2018-06-17. 
  16. ^ "Category C: Other Language Subjects - HKDSE". www.hkeaa.edu.hk. Retrieved 2018-06-17. 
  17. ^ "School-based Assessment (SBA)". www.hkeaa.edu.hk. Retrieved 2018-06-17. 
  18. ^ "Opinion: Hong Kong's Education Bureau made right move in suspending school-based assessment". South China Morning Post. Retrieved 2018-06-17. 
  19. ^ "Grading Procedures and Standards-referenced Reporting in the HKDSE Examination" (PDF). HKEAA. Retrieved 17 June 2018. 
  20. ^ "Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education (HKDSE) | UCAS Qualification Information Profiles". qips.ucas.com. Retrieved 2018-06-17. 
  21. ^ "Category C: Other Language Subjects - HKDSE". www.hkeaa.edu.hk. Retrieved 2018-06-17. 
  22. ^ "Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority". www.hkeaa.edu.hk. Retrieved 2018-06-17. 
  23. ^ "What happens to your HKDSE paper after you hand in your exams?". Young Post | South China Morning Post. Retrieved 2018-06-17. 
  24. ^ "Leaflet of Onscreen Marking System" (PDF). HKEAA. Retrieved 17 June 2018. 
  25. ^ "Your guide to applying to a Hong Kong university through Jupas: what are your options and is your choice right for you?". Young Post | South China Morning Post. Retrieved 2018-06-17. 
  26. ^ "文憑試3322不足上大學 徐立之:教育局如同攞槍迫大學接受" (in Chinese). Hong Kong Economic Times. 8 August 2017. Retrieved 12 June 2018. 
  27. ^ "This year's HKDSE Chinese exam was a lively "paper of death"". Young Post | South China Morning Post. Retrieved 2018-06-17. 
  28. ^ "Hongkongers' university dreams dashed by HKDSE Chinese exam". South China Morning Post. Retrieved 2018-06-17. 

External links[edit]