HKDSE 2019: Biology exam of average difficulty this year, asked students to apply theory to situations IRL

Hugo Kam, star tutor from Modern Education Centre, says there has been a trend of adding more practical questions to the public exam in recent years

Joanne Ma |

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The practical questions might have fazed a lot of students, says star tutor Hugo Kam.

This year’s HKDSE Biology exam was normal, except for some questions that tested students’ ability to practise their knowledge in real life, according to a local star tutor.

Hugo Kam, a Biology tutor at Modern Education, said the exam that took place on Monday was neither difficult nor easy, but included more practical questions, rather than just the concepts.

“I feel like my performance was so-so, because I didn’t have enough time to finish the paper,” said Iris Leung Yan-wai, 18, from Shau Kei Wan East Government Secondary School.

Iris added the Paper 1’s essay question on Genetics was tough. It asked why purebred pets have a higher risk of suffering from genetic diseases than hybrid pets.

Kam said students had to relate their knowledge to their daily life. “In fact, they just need to apply the concept of variation. Heterozygous hybrids have a larger genetic variation, therefore it’s easier for them to adapt to the environment, including dealing with genetic diseases and other obstacles.”

The question might faze quite a lot of students because it was new, but Kam pointed out the main problem was that candidates failed to apply the concepts they learned in Biology to real-life situations.

“HKEAA [Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority] has been incorporating more practical questions in recent years’ papers, especially in the essay questions,” said Kam.

Iris found the Paper 2 question on Applied Ecology difficult, too.

“I got stuck in a sub-question that asked us to state two advantages of adopting an artificial wetland over sewage treatment plant for small villages,” said Iris.

Kam explained that even though students might not have learned about wetlands, they should know that sewage treatments produce organic matter that would be disposed of at sea.

“If they could think one step further, they would know that the wildlife in wetlands can consume some of the organic matter and the pollution can thus be reduced,” said Kam.

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