The Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education examination is administered by the Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority. Most candidates take four core subjects - Chinese and English languages, mathematics and liberal studies - and two or three elective subjects. Results are divided into five levels, with 5 being the highest. A Level 5 with the best performance will be awarded a 5**.
12 stand out from university 'in' crowd with seven 5** grades
Seven boys and five girls in top 1pc of their subjects lead the race for one of 15,000 government-subsidised degree places
A record 12 high-flying students have stood out from this year's Diploma of Secondary Education (HKDSE) examination, as the percentage of students meeting the basic requirements for local university admission increased.
The 12 pupils - seven boys and five girls - got seven level 5**, or high distinction, marks. That puts them in the top 1 per cent for their subjects, according to figures released yesterday by the Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority.
There were nine top-scoring students last year and only five in 2012, when the DSE exam was held for the first time. Seven students with different levels of special education needs also scored three or more than three level 5** marks in this year's DSE exam.
Results are graded from levels 1 to 5. The top-scoring students at level 5 receive a 5**. Each level represents a fixed standard of performance.
The top-scoring students were among the 27,943 pupils this year who achieved a score of 3-3-2-2 in the core subjects of English, Chinese, mathematics, and liberal studies. That is the minimum for university entry.
They made up 35.6 per cent of an overall 79,572 secondary school graduates who took the DSE this year. This is 0.6 per cent more than last year, when an overall 82,283 students took the exam and 28,418 of them achieved the minimum university entrance requirements.
Pupils who met the minimum scores will compete for about 15,000 government-subsidised first-year university degree places through the joint admission system.
Tong Chong-sze, secretary general of the authority, said: "Overall, the performance of candidates this year showed steady improvement.
"In some cases, we witnessed some marked improvement, such as in English."
Some 52.8 per cent of students obtained a level 3 or higher in English - 4 per cent more than last year - while slightly more than half, or some 50.7 per cent of students, got a level 3 or higher in Chinese, making it the worst performing core subject this year.
But almost 2 per cent more students achieved two level 3s in both language subjects compared with last year's figures.
Liberal studies is again the best performing core subject, with 87.3 per cent of students scoring a level 2 or higher, outperforming mathematics, at 80.1 per cent, and each of the two languages.
Subjects that saw the most serious deterioration in performance were combined sciences and integrated science. Some 8.5 per cent fewer students got a pass in biology plus physics.
Tong advised those who didn't make the grade not to give up on their further education. "There are always candidates who miss the basic requirements for university," he said. "But there are many different pathways available. They may consider taking an associate degree programme, higher diploma or repeating their studies."
Eight pupils who were found to have plagiarised their work, by copying articles from the internet or other sources for their school projects, had their marks downgraded. One student was disqualified for cheating.
Pupils will receive their examination results at their schools today.