5 of 7 high-fliers in Hong Kong’s DSE exams plan to pursue medical studies in local universities

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Most of the seven high-fliers who scored perfect grades in Hong Kong’s university entrance exams have revealed plans to pursue medical studies in local universities, with some saying they were inspired by the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

These seven students shared their dreams on Wednesday, after they and other Diploma of Secondary Education (DSE) candidates learned about their results, following a year of challenges in their studies, including months of in-person classes being suspended because of the pandemic.

Six of the top achievers are expected to pursue their studies in local universities, with five aiming to major in medicine and one in finance. The last student is set to read law in Britain.

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Martin Leung, of Queen Elizabeth School in Mong Kok, was one of seven students to achieve a perfect score in this year’s DSE. Photo: Sam Tsang
Martin Leung, of Queen Elizabeth School in Mong Kok, was one of seven students to achieve a perfect score in this year’s DSE. Photo: Sam Tsang

The seven are from six secondary schools, including four which produced their first-ever top scorers over the past decade. A perfect score on the DSE means getting a 5** – the highest grade possible – across all four core subjects and three electives.

Ian Chiu Yi-lap, the first DSE top scorer at PLK Tang Yuk Tien College in Tuen Mun, said he was “surprised” to learn about his results.

“I couldn’t believe my achievements and am still trying to accept this piece of news,” said the 17-year-old, who planned to study quantitative finance at the University of Hong Kong (HKU) because of a strong interest in economics and mathematics.

He said he learned “not to force himself too much” when preparing for the written exams, which took place between April 23 and May 20. To manage his stress, he danced, sang and played video games.

DSE super achiever Serena Yu says she hopes to study medicine in Hong Kong. Photo: May Tse
DSE super achiever Serena Yu says she hopes to study medicine in Hong Kong. Photo: May Tse

He said he learned “not to force himself too much” when preparing for the written exams, which took place between April 23 and May 20. To manage his stress, he danced, sang and played video games.

Jodie Chan Lok-yung, the first DSE perfect scorer at St Stephen’s Girls’ College in the Mid-Levels, planned to study medicine at the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) under the influence of her mother, a physiotherapist. The pandemic, too, played a part in her decision.

“There was a lot of false information about Covid-19 on the internet, so it’s important [for me] to let the general public know the correct information,” said the 18-year-old, adding that being a doctor was an “ideal career” for her because she would be able to help people with her medical expertise.

Ying Wa College’s Sunny Ching wants to focus on medical research. Photo: May Tse
Ying Wa College’s Sunny Ching wants to focus on medical research. Photo: May Tse

Two other top achievers – Sunny Ching Long of Ying Wa College in Sham Shui Po and Martin Leung Pok-yin of Queen Elizabeth School in Mong Kok – similarly opted for medical pursuits at CUHK.

Ching, 18, said his interest in the sciences as well as the global pandemic had prompted him to pursue this path, with a focus on medical research in the future.

Leung, also 18, was keen to learn more about the human anatomy and wanted to “serve the weak and the ill” as a doctor at a local public hospital.

Diocesan Girls’ School in Jordan was the only one to count two top scorers among its ranks: Emily Chan Hoi-ying and Lee Cheuk-lam, both 18, while the seventh high-flier was Serena Yu Sheung-wing, 17, of St Mary’s Canossian College in Tsim Sha Tsui.

Emily Chan plans to study medicine in Hong Kong but has not decided which university she will attend. Photo: Handout
Emily Chan plans to study medicine in Hong Kong but has not decided which university she will attend. Photo: Handout

Both Chan and Yu said they planned to study medicine in Hong Kong but had not decided whether they would be attending HKU or CUHK. Lee was expected to read law at the University of Cambridge.

“I hope to discover new technology to help advance the medical field,” Yu said. “During this pandemic, I saw how the development of vaccines was a great contribution to the world.”

Three of the seven high scorers – Chiu, Yu and Emily Chan – are considered “super achievers”, because they also attained a 5** in the mathematics elective module.

With a record low number of 49,976 candidates sitting for the written portion of the exams in April and May this year, the exam authority has said it could make it easier for the 17,000 secondary school pupils who achieved the minimum requirement to land a subsidised first-year university placement.

The DSE exam replaced the Hong Kong Certificate of Education Examination and A-levels exams in 2012.

Additional reporting by Bobo Chan, Sammy Heung and Jasmine Tse

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