Half of final A-level crop falls short
Thousands of Form Seven pupils are about to start scrambling for their futures when they receive the results of the last Hong Kong A-level examinations.
More than half of the last batch of pupils sent by public schools to take the university exam will fail to get a place at a public university.
They will then have to fight for jobs or continue their study in private colleges or in sub degree courses.
The Hok Yau Club, a student counselling centre, said repeating the exam in the hope of a better score would mean little as most schools no longer offered Form Seven courses.
But one 14-year-old music pupil is set to join the ranks of the city's prodigies today as his grades are good enough to gain early university entry, according to sources.
The exam authorities said yesterday that among 40,500 pupils who took the university entrance exam, including about 10,000 self-study students, about 18,000 met the requirements for government-subsidised degree courses.
With competition for courses keen, exam officials said they would prepare for an expected higher-than-usual number of applications for grade reviews.
About 70 per cent of students got a pass for Use of English, while 94 per cent obtained a pass for Chinese Language and Culture.
The youngest exam taker is the 14-year-old music prodigy; the oldest is 63.
Meanwhile, two students were downgraded for posting on the internet pictures they took inside the exam venues with their mobile phones.
The 32-year-old exam is to become a 'collective memory', according to Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority secretary general Tong Chong-sze.
The Hong Kong A-level exam has been dubbed much more difficult than many other university entrance exams in overseas jurisdictions and each year generates only a handful of straight-A students. This year, four students obtained six As, while 13 students are five-A-graders.
To get into a university in Hong Kong, pupils must achieve at least an E grade in the two languages as well as two other A-level subjects. According to a survey a few years ago by UK NARIC, the British agency responsible for providing information, advice and expert opinion on qualifications worldwide, an E in the Hong Kong exam would equate to a C or D in GCE A-levels. Those getting a C in Hong Kong would therefore get As if they took the GCE equivalent.
The Hong Kong A-levels, along with the Hong Kong Certificate of Education Examinations, which Form Five students had to take, have been replaced by the Hong Kong Diploma for Secondary Education exam under education reforms aimed at reducing pressure on pupils. While 15,000 university places have been reserved for A-levels graduates, another 15,000 will be for diploma students in a transitional arrangement under the centralised university admission scheme JUPAS.