Silence falls as pupils start city's last A-levels
Around 40,000 secondary school pupils converged on examination halls across the city yesterday, as the final round of the Hong Kong Advanced Level Examination got under way.
They will be the last batch of pupils to take the A-level exams before the city switches next year to the Hong Kong Diploma for Secondary Education exams for entrance into local universities.
Some reported enduring countless sleepless nights in the lead-up to D-Day. Such was their stress that even the chief executive election drama captivating the rest of Hong Kong took a back seat.
Lee Sze-ting, a science pupil who took the Chinese papers yesterday, said she felt particularly nervous because it was the last A-level exam. 'I hadn't expected to be unable to sleep. But I ended up falling asleep only at 4am.' She hopes to study social sciences in university.
Another pupil, Tam Ho-fai, said he cared more about the exam than politics. He had had hardly any time to pay attention to the election, only watching the news to keep himself up to date. 'Whoever wins... has really nothing to do with me now,' he said.
Some 300 schools were hives of activity, having volunteered to be exam venues. At CNEC Christian College in Kwai Chung, principal Ngai Shu-chiu said its teachers were prepared to be busy for the next two months. 'We will be an exam centre for 18 days. I think our lives will be very hectic,' Ngai said.
The schools that have volunteered to serve will not be compensated financially. Ngai said, however, that his school had received a few thousand dollars intended to subsidise electricity bills.
Its teaching operations will inevitably be affected. 'We need to suspend the operation of our school bell to avoid disturbing the exam-takers,' he said.
He said officials from the Examination and Assessment Authority had told him that schools were obliged to provide rooms for the exams, otherwise the exam fees, which stand at HK$200 to HK$700 per subject, would be higher. 'They said if they needed to hire invigilators, the exam fees would go up,' Ngai said.
The exams will run until May 2 and the scores will be announced on June 29. Next year, the authority will hold another round of A levels, but only for individual candidates, most of whom will be repeating exams.