New group discussions in school-based oral assessment are 'beyond the abilities' of many secondary students, according to Chiang Liang-hwa, assistant principal of Pui Ying Secondary School in Pokfulam. Ms Chiang said she believed the test placed poorer students at a serious disadvantage if they lacked confidence in their spoken abilities. 'I have seen students sit through the whole discussion without saying a word. Then at the end, they leave looking embarrassed,' she said. However, teachers could even the odds for weaker students by tailoring tasks to different students' 'level of comprehension'. Part of the difficulty was because the students were expected to discuss a book they had all read. 'Many students have a lot of trouble trying to understand a whole book,' she said. 'If they can't read the book, they have nothing to talk about.' She suggested teachers could give weaker students a short story based on the book's storyline. Reading this would be a more achievable task, giving them a level playing field when it came to the group task. Better students would still be challenged by reading the original book. Many students also lacked basic questioning skills, or had trouble expressing their opinion and voicing agreement. She said it was important to teach students a bank of stock questions they could use to make a contribution to the discussion.