Comments by the Director of Education following an incident where hundreds of exam candidates wrote almost the same model answer have been described as 'irresponsible' by some students. It was found recently that 584 students who sat the A-level Chinese Language exam submitted almost identical answers after memorising a model essay, supplied by a private tutorial school, on traditional Chinese festivals. Director of Education Helen Yu Lai Ching-ping said the incident showed that students were concentrating too much on exam results instead of the real role of education which was to promote independent thinking. Many students, however, have a different view. 'How can we not concentrate on the results? They determine whether we can get into university or not. I think it was an irresponsible thing to say,' said Tsang Fung-yi of Tsuen Wan Public Ho Huen Yiu Memorial College. 'If you want to further your studies, you must do well in the exam. The candidates probably memorised the essay because they feared they would not do well enough or were too rushed for time. That's why they took the shortcut,' the Form Seven student added. 'What the Education Department should do is to find ways to help students instead of making such a remark.' Lee Wing-cheong of King's College felt that the students should not take all the blame. 'The entire system makes the A-level exam very important. It decides where you will go in the future. If your results are not good enough, there's little you can do to make up for it,' the 17-year-old student said. 'Your extra-curricular activities records only have a slight effect. Exam results are very important and students have to concentrate on their exams.' Anthony Lam Yi-ping of Carmel Pak U Secondary School said most employers used exam performance as one of their hiring criteria. 'It's rather unfair on students to say that they are putting too much emphasis on their results. Society also stresses academic performance.' However, Fung-yi believed that it was right for the Examinations Authority to deduct marks from the candidates. 'Composition is about creation. You do not need superb language skills for that.' She added that the incident affected the grading of the rest of the candidates. However, Tina Ho Lai-shan of Carmel Pak U Secondary School, said it was unfair to deduct their marks at this stage. 'There are no policies regarding such circumstances. The department should come up with some regulations.'