Although the Early Admission Scheme (EAS) allows top Form Six students to escape the stressful A-Levels, they have to face new challenges in their quest for excellence. 'I felt a bit of pressure at the beginning,' said Elroy Wong Hon-wai, 18, a Year One civil engineering student at the University of Hong Kong (HKU). 'As I hadn't studied Form Seven, I thought I was short of one year's knowledge compared to the other freshmen. I have to put in a greater effort to catch up with my university studies. Luckily, my first semester's results were quite good, with a GPA [grade point average] of 3.78 out of 4.' Mr Wong decided to apply for the EAS after scoring nine As in the HKCEE. The EAS, launched by the University Grants Committee in 2002, is aimed at providing flexibility for high achievers. Under the scheme, students who score six or more As in the HKCEE can enter university a year earlier. They can join the HKU, the Chinese University of Hong Kong or the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. 'I did seek advice [on whether to join the EAS] from Form Seven students in my school,' recalled Mr Wong. 'All of them said, 'Leave if you can', complaining about the overwhelming pressure from the A-Levels.' Although he was lucky enough to skip the A-Levels, being an EAS student is not easy. His former classmates and teachers have great expectations and this has made him strive for a first-class honours degree. Yuki Chan Ho-ting, 20, is a final-year EAS student taking the government and laws degree programme at HKU. Ms Chan said the belief that EAS students are the best of the best has increased expectations and put more pressure on her. It would be a shame if she came bottom of the class, she said. 'But more than one third of my classmates are EAS students. They are all smart and diligent so competition is fierce. They have helped broaden my horizons and reminded me that I am not the only gifted student [in the class],' said Ms Chan, who scored seven As in the HKCEE. Year Two EAS medical student Arnold Tsang Yin-ho, 18, said without the pressures of a public exam, self-discipline was very important during the last year in secondary school. About half of his fellow sixth formers at St Paul's Co-educational College were also selected for early university admission. 'Although we [EAS students] felt a bit relaxed, we still worked hard because we knew our attitude would affect those who were preparing for the A-Levels,' Mr Tsang said. Last year, 14 of the first batch of 28 EAS graduates at HKU received first-class honours. Registrar Henry Wai Wing-kun said the university was very satisfied with the result, but emphasised that EAS students did not enjoy privileges. 'After entering university, they're just like other students,' he said. 'More than one third of my classmates are EAS students. They are all smart and diligent ... They have helped broaden my horizons'