Next year’s university entrance exams could be postponed, and some elements cut, to make up for the disruption caused by the suspension of classes because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Two sources told the Post that exam authorities had suggested holding the Diploma of Secondary Education (DSE) exams from late April to mid-May 2021, a month later than in previous years, with results to be released in July.
A contingency plan has also been proposed by the Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority (HKEAA) whereby exams would start in early June, with results released in late August.
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The speaking components of the Chinese- and English-language exams may also be dropped for a second consecutive year, while compulsory questions in several subjects could be changed to elective questions in exam papers, according to the sources.
Adjustments may also be made to school-based assessments, including the cancelling of a project in liberal studies, which takes up 20 per cent of the subject’s total grade.
This year’s DSE exam was delayed for a month in the face of a surge in Covid-19 cases, and the oral component of the Chinese and English exams was cancelled, with weighting of the other components adjusted accordingly.
On Monday, an Education Bureau spokeswoman said officials had been looking into different options with the exam authorities for next year’s DSE exams, as they were concerned about the impact of the virus on students' learning.
The exam authority said it had been in talks with representatives from the education sector on potential adjustment plans, while a final decision would be made in September at the earliest after its public examinations board reviewed the suitable options.
Lee Wai-hung, assistant principal of Fukien Secondary School (Siu Sai Wan) and an executive committee member of the Hong Kong Federation of Education Workers, said some pupils might be lagging behind others after months of online learning when preparing for next year’s exams.
“For those students who are more disciplined, they may see a smaller impact under online learning,” Lee said. “But for those who are not as disciplined, they might [fall behind their peers] without teachers’ constant assistance and reminders during class suspension.”
James Lam Yat-fung, principal of Lions College and former chairman of the Subsidised Secondary Schools Council, said he hoped officials would make an announcement as soon as possible to ensure teachers could help students better prepare.
“If schools are already preparing pupils for certain [testing components], and it gets cancelled after all, they might feel that they have wasted some of their time,” he said.