Assessors suspected of being liberal with their marks
As students examined their exam results yesterday, many who scored low marks noticed an odd pattern - their marks for liberal studies were unexpectedly high, even when they failed to answer all the questions.
One student, Leung Chung-yi, was surprised to see that he scored a level 4 mark in liberal studies - the top mark is 5** - after he scored level 1 in English, maths and chemistry and level 2 in Chinese and biology.
'I have no idea how I scored that 4,' he said. 'As far as I remember, I left one or two questions blank, because I had no time to finish them.'
Leung was one of several students who talked to the South China Morning Post at the Institute of Vocational Education's Haking Wong campus, where they were filling in online applications for various courses.
Held for the first time this year, the liberal studies exam consisted of two papers. Paper one required students to give opinions on population policy, tobacco control policy and party politics.
On paper two, they had to answer one of three questions.
They related to the controversial third runway for Hong Kong's airport, the impact of globalisation on Chinese culture, and ethical issues concerning DNA tests on fetuses and abortion.
Genger Lam scored a level 3 in liberal studies even though he failed to answer two of the questions on paper one.
He suspects the Examinations and Assessment Authority made a point of not grading too strictly.
'I think the authority wanted to create a good image of the course for the next group of students who will take it. As we all know, this is the first year it's been held.'
Sammy Lee also scored level 3 in liberal studies despite failing to answer one of the questions. 'It feels weird, after skipping that question,' he said.
But student Ho Nang-yan, who scored a level 4 in liberal studies, did not think the markers were too lenient. 'Although I left one question unfinished, I still believe that the marking is fair - maybe I performed well in the previous questions.'
Only about 9 per cent of the 47,831 day school candidates who took the liberal studies exam scored below level 2, according to the Examinations and Assessment Authority.
Reporters Dennis Chong, Wong Yat-hei, Jennifer Cheng, Helen Yu, Thomas Chan, Chris Lau, Joyee Chan, Jolie Ho, Lilly Zhang, Michael Au, Emily Ting and Elaine Leung
Photographers Nora Tam, K.Y. Cheng, Felix Wong and May Tse