Public exam officials criticised secondary school students for failing to think critically and express themselves in Chinese and English.
In the latest report on the Hong Kong Certificate of Education Examination and Advanced Level Examination, examiners described candidates as 'narrow-minded' and 'immature'.
In one Chinese comprehension exam, an A-level candidate wrote that a collapsed residential building in To Kwa Wan was an ideal home because young people who helped save lives in the tragedy made it an example of noble virtues.
An examiner commented that candidates twisted the concepts of Chinese morals and that their knowledge is 'superficial'.
The average score for the HKCEE Chinese reading exam was 28.96 out of 90. Candidates were worst on questions about Lu Xun's The Twenty-four Filial Exemplars, which was written in literary Chinese.
The Examinations and Assessment Authority suggested that students read more classical works and start learning literary Chinese in primary school.
In the A-level English exam, examiners criticised candidates for careless spelling mistakes and overuse of standardised phrases in the oral exam.
They recommended students read English-language newspapers more and broaden their vocabulary.
Lit Ho-cheung, from Hok Yau Club, says the exam format will remain largely the same in the Diploma of Secondary Education, to be held for the first time next year.
'It is still worthwhile for students to study the exam reports,' Lit says. 'Students can learn from others' mistakes and improve.'