Concentration and good allocation of time are two keys to success for Judy Lam Wai-chung of Diocesan Girls' School, who took top honours with 10 straight As in this year's Hong Kong Certificate of Education Examination (HKCEE). The science student said it was important to have a focused mind and to never hesitate in asking questions at school. 'Family support is also essential. My parents have been very supportive in my studies,' Judy said. Her classmate Denise Woo Kar-yan, who scored nine As, learned a hard lesson from one exam. The science student said she failed to score an A in Chinese Language because of poor allocation of time. 'How you perform on the spot is very important. It is better to plan ahead so you have an idea of how much time you can spend on each question,' she said. Chan Ming-yan of King's College who scored nine straight As said the HKCEE tackles both knowledge and exam-taking strategy. 'It's helpful to go through past papers and sample tests,' the science student said. St Paul's College's nine-As scorer Alvin Lau Lap-ming said the new English syllabus was challenging. 'Both the listening and oral exams were conducted in a new way. The oral exam was especially challenging because new elements like role playing and group discussion were included,' Alvin said. The science pupil said students did not have enough opportunities to practise spoken English. 'Since English lessons are mostly focused on writing and reading, we do not have many chances to speak the language.' St Joseph's College student Patrick Choi Ming-tai, who scored nine As, said the exam demanded a sound knowledge of the syllabus content. 'I think I scored straight As because I was well prepared.' Patrick added that students who attended tutorials should not depend entirely on tips from tutors on what questions may appear on the exam paper. 'There will always be exceptions. For example, some questions in this year's Mathematics paper had never appeared before.' Kevin Ho Ki-hong of Wah Yan College, Kowloon, who scored nine As, said a pressure-free environment was vital for a good exam performance 'Telling my parents about the pressure I was feeling made a big difference. I knew they were not asking too much from me and would love me all the same even if I didn't do well,' he said. 'With this in mind, I just went to the exam hall and did my best without worrying about the outcome.' Vivian Ma Yin-wing, a nine As scorer from Maryknoll Convent School, said: 'There is no single formula for success. It depends on the individual. I didn't waste any time when I was studying but if I felt really tired, I would take a break.' Her classmate Margaret Lau Wing-wah, who also scored nine As, added that it was helpful to share and discuss information with classmates. 'By talking to others, you can get a clearer idea of some questions.' Connie Wong Ka-man, also a nine As scorer from the same school, said she would play TV or computer games when she needed a break. 'If you are tired and you force yourself to keep going, you will develop a strong dislike for the subject.' Two of La Salle College's nine As scorers, Chan Ming-chiu and Wong Tsz-kit, believe students would do better if they viewed the exam as a small challenge and knew that they would have other opportunities to put their abilities to the test.