An internationally recognised examination designed to gauge knowledge in specific study areas has revealed that Hong Kong students perform better in mathematics and science than their counterparts abroad. A total of 9,000 students from 45 primary and 36 secondary schools in the territory sat the exam to get feedback on their academic strengths and weaknesses. About one million students worldwide took the test. Pupils with the highest scores in each subject area were awarded medals and certificates with grades of high distinction, distinction, credit and pass. The exam, organised by the Educational Testing Centre at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, is an annual assessment of levels in English, mathematics and science. Centre director Professor Jim Tognolini said: 'The academic results in both science and mathematics of Hong Kong students are better than those in other countries. However, Hong Kong students may find the English test difficult.' He said the test was designed to assess more than just a student's factual knowledge. It also is a measure of analytical and logical thinking, problem-solving skills, and communication abilities. 'The test is effective in showing the strength and weaknesses of the present curriculum,' Professor Tognolini said. 'It is useful to both parents and educators in making improvements.' The numbers taking part in the territory rose from 8,000 last year to this year's level of 9,000. 'We are holding discussions with the Education Department on implementing the test at all primary and secondary schools,' said Mak Kwai- po, principal education secretary of the Po Leung Kuk charity organisation. English test medal-winner Cordia Tsoi, who attends the Canadian International School, said: 'The test is more effective for showing my proficiency in English. It requires more thinking and analysis.' Another English medal-winner, Esteem Wong Kwan-yee, found last year's test so interesting she decided to sit it again. Kwan-yee, a Form Two student at St Paul's Secondary School, said: 'The test requires from me more common sense and skill in putting knowledge into practice.' Lam Wai-keung, a science medal- winner from STFA Lee Shau Kee College, said: 'The questions are more difficult than those for school examinations.'