Elite schools produce three of the 10 highest-scoring A-level students Traditional elite schools staged a minor comeback yesterday, producing three of the 10 top-scoring A-level students. But for the second consecutive year, the top scholars came from the Hang Seng School of Commerce, which produced half of the students with five A grades. The Sixth Form college in Sha Tin produced both of last year's students with six As, and two of the 11 students with five. Only two straight-A students came from elite schools last year, and just one the year before. This year, St Paul's Co-educational College in Mid-Levels, St Paul's Secondary School in Happy Valley, and Diocesan Girls' School in Tsim Sha Tsui produced one each. This year's two remaining five-A students were from schools in the New Territories: Tsuen Wan Government Secondary School and Kwok Tak Seng Catholic Secondary School in Sha Tin. Hang Seng principal Chui Hong-sheung said the success of the school's students demonstrated they could succeed with flying colours if they were given a clear goal and confidence. 'We shouldn't jump to conclusions by saying certain students are doomed,' he said. 'They will make it as long as they work hard and get help from teachers.' The school, a Sixth Form college founded in 1980, has seen an explosion in the number of students getting multiple As in the A-level exams in the past decade. In 1997, only 28 students achieved at least one A, compared with almost 200 this year. Last year, two students from Hang Seng scored six As - the highest achievement in A-levels. This year, 42 students from the school scored at least three As - 14 per cent of the 302 students who achieved the same result. Dr Chui said his school admitted students with a range of abilities, although he expected the publicity from yesterday's results would mean more applications from top students in the coming year. While students acquired examination skills in class, the focus of teaching was on how to promote their understanding of the material. 'We don't encourage drilling or rote learning. We want students to think for themselves,' Dr Chui said. One of the straight-A students, Cheng Pui-man, said teachers at Hang Seng were passionate about teaching, and the school had provided plenty of resources for students. But she admitted she also received extra help from private tutors for English. The rest of this year's top scorers adopted a range of tactics to achieve their academic success, with one admitting she burned the candle at both ends, while another followed the virtues of 'early to bed, early to rise'. Bonny Chau Pui-ling, 18, from St Paul's Secondary School, said she worked until 2am or 3am virtually every night for the past two years to attain her five A grades. Anita Siu Wai-fun, 20, from St Paul's Co-educational College, said she consciously avoided overworking herself. 'I need my sleep and usually I am in bed by 8.30pm or 9pm, at the latest,' she said. William Tsang Wai-him, 19, from Tsuen Wan Government Secondary, attributed his success to teamwork and the support of his study group. But one of the most inspiring tales was that of Kwok Kin-pang, 18, from Hang Seng. The son of a factory worker and a cleaning lady, Kin-pang said he studied hard to lead a better life. He juggled study with a part-time job teaching piano 21/2 days each week for most of forms six and seven, using the wages to pay for his school fees. He said that if he secured a scholarship, he would like to study abroad to become a financial analyst. 'I want my parents to live in a better environment,' he said.