The new secondary school curriculum has effectively been kick-started more than a month ahead of the school year, as students flock to tutorial schools to get to grips with the new liberal studies subject. The subject has stirred anxiety among students and parents because it is compulsory, directly affects matriculation and few know much about it. 'I have zero understanding of it,' said student Monica Wong as she attended intensive studies on the topic at the Modern Education Tutorial Centre. 'I feel panic as this is a key subject to enter university.' Liberal studies is aimed at introducing critical thinking, creativity, problem solving and communication skills, which has been criticised for a focus on rote-learning. Ms Wong said she had been told nothing about liberal studies at her junior school, so 'I want to make use of this holiday to deepen my understanding of it'. After her first class at Modern Education's Sha Tin branch with tutor Lau Kin-yui, who discussed the different liberal studies modules, she said at least she now knew details of the structure of the subject. Ms Wong will be among the first batch of students at CUHKFAA Chan Chun Ha Secondary School to be taught under the new 3+3+4 structure - three years of junior secondary, three of senior secondary and four at university. At the tutorial centre's Kowloon Bay branch, Ryan Wu, who will be in Form Four at Bishop Hall Jubilee School, said he had thought liberal studies was like civic education. 'I felt like it was to enhance my sense of belonging to China,' he said. Seeking to dispel such notions was tutor Costa Chan Ching-han, who asked students: 'Do you know the relationship between Hello Kitty and global warming?' - the answer being that overpackaging of such products wasted resources and used non-recyclable materials. She said she wanted to get young people thinking about issues by making the topic interesting, noting that they would have to piece issues together and generate their own knowledge to get a top grade under the new examination system. After the class, Ryan Wu said the subject was different from what he had thought, so he would continue the tutorial in the hope of catching up with the subject.