HKDSE 2020: Chinese Listening and Integrated Skills exam continues current trend of being easier than in previous years

  • Candidates were asked to play the role of a student union leader, rather than touch on social issues.
  • A Chinese tutor describes it as a test of basic skills.
Wong Tsui-kai |

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Students waiting to be seated for the HKDSE at the Textile Institute American Chamber of Commerce Woo Hon Fai Secondary School in Tsuen Wan. SCMP/ Felix Wong

Like the DSE Chinese Reading and Writing paper, the Listening and Integrated Skills exam was easier than in previous years, said teachers and students.

Starsky Ng Ka-hin, 18, from Po Leung Kuk Wu Chung College, said the exam was “a little simpler” than last year’s. “Past questions touched on social issues that took you away from being a student. This year we were asked to play the simpler and more familiar role of a student union leader,” Starsky explained.

“The organisation instructions were also more direct, as they told you what to exclude.”

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“I finished with only a minute left since I wrote a lot, but the Integrated Skills portion is very formalised, so I’m not worried about checking.”

Lam Yat-yan, a Chinese tutor at Beacon College, described the exam as similar to asking a chef to make scrambled eggs – in other words, a test of basic skills. “The [reading and writing] papers on Tuesday were quite simple and I wondered if they would do something innovative here, but they didn’t,” he said.

“The Integrated Skills task, where candidates have to write an article, was a repeat of last year’s format.”

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“The listening was also quite easy, as it didn’t have fill-in-the-blank questions and was fully multiple choice.”

But he pointed out that while the questions were “typical and mainstream”, which meant students would easily pass, getting a good grade required in-depth thinking.

“They would need to describe how they linked ‘qualities youth should have’ with ‘activities hosted by the student union’. The logic they used to link them, and how they expressed it, is key.”

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Jenny Lee, a Chinese teacher at a secondary school, also felt this year’s exam wasn’t a “paper of death”.

“Students should be well prepared for these types of questions, which have appeared before.” she said.

But she also said that some students might not be able to translate their observations of daily life onto paper. “Being able to link activities and qualities, and then expanding on it in writing, takes a good base of knowledge and an understanding of one’s own personality,” she said. “Students have to draw on their experiences of taking part in this type of activity, and use it to add detail to their writing. That can be hard.

“But feedback from my students only mentioned common problems, like not enough time. No one was completely unable to understand the paper. The level of difficulty was actually quite appropriate.”