HKDSE begins amid Covid-19 pandemic; exam authority reassures public of safety measures

  • Hong Kong government praises student resilience in the face of the coronavirus outbreak.
  • Candidates who don’t feel well can apply to have their grades assessed with school marks, with a doctor’s note.
Wong Tsui-kai |

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Students seen getting their temperature taken at True Light Girls' College in Yau Ma Tei, for the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education (HKDSE) examination. 24APR20 SCMP / Winson Wong

Today was the opening of one of the most important public exams held in the city, the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education exam. Speaking to the press, senior leadership of the Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority praised the resilience of candidates in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic.

According to the exam authority, five students called ahead to say they were unwell and did not attend today’s visual arts exam, with one more student leaving the exam venue after reporting she was ill on her health declaration form.

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“Students unable to attend the exam due to sickness may provide a doctor’s note and apply to have their grades assessed with internal school results within 21 days of the exam date.” said Dr So Kwok-sang, Secretary General of the HKEAA, reminding students not to go to the exam if they are ill or have a fever.

The core subjects of liberal studies, maths and the two language subjects will have the most candidates, with the LS exam due to be held Monday having over 47,000 candidates. Due to social distancing measures requiring seats to be 1.5 metres apart, some candidates will not take their exams in the hall, but in classrooms. “We would like to remind students to read the seating table at the venue and confirm their seating place.” So said.

A timeline of the Covid-19 outbreak

So also reminded students to be punctual for the listening exams and to complete their preparations to enter the exam venue in advance. “As the recordings will be played by Radio Television Hong Kong on the airwaves, there will be no leeway in the exam start time.”

In response to criticism regarding arrangements for leaving the examination halls, which would force students to gather, Professor Ricardo Mak, Director – Public Examinations for the HKEAA, said they have detailed guidelines and briefings for invigilators.

“Each venue has a different capacity, hence it is very difficult to have hard rules. But just as bathroom arrangements have been made to reduce crowding, we believe the exam hall staff will be able to make judgments on how to minimise crowding by letting students leave in batches.” Mak said.