Hong Kong DSE students face alarming stress levels as results day nears, survey shows

Candidates’ major source of worry came from their ‘exam results not matching their expectations’

Nicola Chan |

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Stressed out? Seek help, says the HKFYG.

About half of this year’s DSE candidates’ stress index has reached seven or above – on a scale of one to 10 – while 46.5 per cent said they experienced increased stress when asked to predict their examination results, a survey published by a youth service organisation revealed.

A total of 822 HKDSE students took part in the survey through phone interviews or online questionnaires. It was conducted by the Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups’ (HKFYG) “DSE 2777 1112” scheme during early June to early July this year.

The results suggested that students’ major source of stress stemmed from their worry about their “exam results not matching their expectations” (70.2 per cent), followed by “not being admitted to programmes they’re most interested in” (40.9 per cent), “not being admitted to programmes within the Joint University Programmes Admissions System [Jupas]” (27.6 per cent), and “uncertain career path after graduation” (27.6 per cent).

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More than 94 per cent of the interviewees expressed a wish to pursue further study, while 65.8 per cent said they aimed to pursue an undergraduate degree. About half of the participants admitted they would consider self-financing sub-degrees if they weren’t offered a Jupas programme of their interest.

While 46.5 per cent of participants expressed a rise in stress levels when asked to predict their results, 41.4 per cent and 40 per cent said they felt more stressed when they heard discouraging words (“I told you to study hard but you didn’t listen. Now you’re done!”), or when being compared to their peers (“Look at how well the others did in their exams!”).

On the contrary, students said the most effective words included, “Regardless of your results, we’ll support you” (43.6 per cent), “It’s okay as long as you’ve done your best” (39.2 per cent), and “I’ll be there for you anytime you need me!” (34.4 per cent).

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But DSE candidate Makro Cheung Him – who was at the press conference – said words of encouragement from his parents are not as stress-relieving as a family holiday because actions speak louder than words. “If [my parents] would go on a vacation with me, I could feel that they really want me to relax,” the 18-year-old said.

Makro also said he struggled the most when trying to decide the programmes he should pursue in the future. “I wasn’t sure if I should prioritise my interests, abilities, or other factors when making the decisions.”

HKFYG’s student council supervisor Hsu Siu-man said it’s inevitable for DSE candidates to feel anxious or worry about their exam results, especially since they would be released next week. She advised students to identify their source of stress, adjust their individual expectations, and make plans for possible outcomes.

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Students seeking emotional support or career guidance could contact HKFYG’s counsellors via phone (2777 1112), WhatsApp (6277 8899), Facebook (DSE 27771112), or visit their website (Utouch.hk). Their working hours would be extended from July 8-13, from 10am to 2am.

Meanwhile, HKFYG received 153 phone calls seeking emotional support regarding the anti-extradition bill protests from June 12 to July 2, said Hsu. She added that the callers – ranging from junior secondary students to people in their 30s – said they suffered from negative emotions including “anger”, “sadness”, “helplessness”, “fear” and “disappointment”.

Edited by M. J. Premaratne