Hong Kong ESF students head into IB exams amid complaints of unfairness and extra pressure

  • The IB Organisation said schools could choose between the exam route and being assessed on coursework, but students had no say in the decision
  • Some launched a petition calling for a halt to the assessments, which has garnered more than 1,000 signatures
Amalissa Hall |

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ESF students have said it's unfair that some countries have cancelled their exams, while others will proceed as normal. Photo: SCMP

ESF students will head into their first exams tomorrow under a cloud of confusion and anger at being forced to take the exams and having to do so much extra work.

Due to the upheaval wrought by Covid-19 on the international examinations system, not all participating countries are on the same page.

Hong Kong students initially raised the issue in February, when the dual route system was announced.

The IBO said schools would be able to choose between taking the exams or being assessed on their Internal Assessment (IA) and Predicted Grades (PG).

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In February, Britain cancelled all IB exams because the country was in lockdown. Schools in Hong Kong were closed at that time, but exams were still due to go ahead. English Schools Foundation (ESF) students were frustrated at having no say in the decision, and believed they were being put at a disadvantage because of all the extra work they would have to do for the exams.

They also believed that the IBO was favouring students who were not doing the exams by saying they would not get a grade lower than those of their IA and PG. On Saturday, students launched a petition to halt the exams, saying there was no “better than lowest grade” safety net for them.

The IBO has clarified that the same conditions would apply to students who sat the exam.

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Petitioning students also pointed out, however, that many had had to rush their IAs to make time to study for the exams, a burden not faced by those who were able to take the non-exam route.

They also stressed that students who were taking exams would be under pressure for a lot longer than those who were not.

The rollercoaster of uncertainty had taken its toll, they said, and pointed out that as international students, many were grieving for friends and family in other regions who had been sickened or died from the virus.

At the time of going to press, the petition had garnered more than 1,000 signatures.

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