Pupils' exams could start earlier, take longer in 2013
School pupils could find themselves starting examinations earlier in the year and sitting almost six hours of vital tests in a single day as part of a drive to produce results earlier and give universities more time to process applications for places.
Education officials said yesterday the possibility of pupils completing all tests in a compulsory subject in one day, and starting an intense round of exams that will decide pupils' futures earlier, was only one scenario being considered.
But critics said pupils were already being put under intense pressure by the exam schedule.
The written test for the first Hong Kong Diploma for Secondary Education starts on March 28 and will see 70,000 pupils pass through test centres as they seek a place at university. The final round of A-Level exams will also start later this month as education reforms, under which all pupils will complete three years of senior secondary school, near completion.
This year's diploma exams will end in early May and pupils will receive their results on July 20, almost a month later than A-Level pupils, who will learn how they have fared on June 29.
'Universities want to see the scores earlier,' said Tong Chong-sze, the secretary general of the Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority.
For that reason, the authority is considering a tentative plan to change the exam timetable from the next academic year.
Under the proposal, exams in the compulsory subjects - Chinese, English, mathematics and liberal studies - will each be completed in a day. This means, pupils will finish all English written papers in five-and-a-half hours in one day instead of over two days.
The proposals also include holding exams in two separate subjects in one day and bringing the oral examinations forward to February from early March.
Tso Kai-lok, of concern group Education Convergence, said the proposals would spark fierce opposition from schools because the teaching schedule was already hectic.
Tso said the burden of providing exam results to universities earlier should not fall on schools. 'Them being inefficient doesn't mean we have to bear the responsibility for them,' the secondary school principal said.
Patrick Mok, a senior manager at Dadi Overseas Studies Service Centre, said ending the exams early would give pupils more time to prepare their university applications.
Mok said that under the current arrangement, it was nearly impossible for students to complete the application process for universities in popular destinations such as the United States and Canada.
The amount, in HK dollars, the government spent on education in the financial year 2010-11