This year’s DSE English exam was easier than before, say teachers

By Ben Pang

Students’ exam results were so good because the reading paper was simpler than in previous years

By Ben Pang |

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Tong Chong-sze, secretary general of the Examinations and Assessment Authority, announced last Tuesday that there had been a slight improvement in DSE English exam results this year. But teachers held differing opinions on why this was.

Secondary school English teacher Michelle Hery, who has marked DSE papers in the past, said more students scored grade 5 or above because the reading paper was much simpler.

This year, 9.7 per cent of 68,128 candidates got grade 5 or higher for English, compared to 8.1 per cent in 2015. Hery said several of the texts were easy to understand and there were not many difficult words or idioms.

“Idioms such as ‘it’s small wonder’ in reading section B2 were easy for students to handle,” adding that she thought it was easier to score a grade 5 than in previous years. There were also more past papers to look back on, making it easier to know what was expected in the answers, although, Hery said,“if you got one or two answers wrong in this paper, you could easily drop from grade 5** to grade 5*.”

Although more students passed this year’s liberal studies exam, fewer scored grade 5 or above: 8.9 per cent, compared to 10.2 per cent in 2015.

DSE marker and Modern Education tutor H. Y. Fung said a good strategy for the exam is to focus on getting the simpler questions right.

“If a question has three sub-questions, most students should be able to do the first two parts, which are easier. The last part is designed to separate the 5** from 5* candidates as it asks for more in-depth answers,” he said.

“Many students did not get top scores as they struggled with this type of question.”

Andy Tse, a science tutor at King’s Glory Education, said physics, biology and chemistry results didn’t differ too much from last year’s, as the papers were not hard for students to handle.