DSE 2021: Hong Kong or abroad? Perfect scorers on their university plans

  • Six of this year’s top scorers plan to attend CUHK or HKU, with most aiming to study medicine, inspired by doctors during coronavirus
  • One student will head to Cambridge University in Britain but hopes to return to the city and contribute to her home
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DSE top scorer Ian Chiu Yi-nap poses for pictures at Po Leung-kuk Tang Yuk Tien College in Tuen Mun. Photo: SCMP/ Sam Tsang

Six of the seven perfect scorers on this year’s university entrance exam have chosen to further their studies in Hong Kong, with many hoping to become doctors, they said in interviews with Young Post.

Five of the seven top scorers of the Diploma of Secondary Education (DSE) examination plan to stay in the city and study medicine. One aspires to study quantitative finance at the University of Hong Kong (HKU), and another will study law at Cambridge University in Britain.

They gave us some tips on winning that prized ticket to your desired university, and shared how they decided what to study after secondary school.

Don’t panic if your grades aren’t what you hoped for

Ian Chiu Yi-nap, 17, PLK Tang Yuk Tien College

Ian’s secret to achieving a perfect score is not to stress too much.

“During my exam preparation, I danced, sang and played video games to release my stress. I like listening to K-pop music and watching choreography videos. I’m not a nerd and I don’t like to force myself too much,” said Ian, whose hobbies range from dancing and skipping rope to debating.

“I was surprised to hear about my results when my school called me this morning. I couldn’t believe my achievement and I’m still trying to accept the news,” he said.

Ian Chiu Yi-nap said he made sure to relax and not stress himself too much while studying. Photo: SCMP/ Sam Tsang

Ian hopes to study quantitative finance at HKU, as he said he has always had a strong interest in economics and maths, and has no plan to study abroad.

“Some of my friends have decided to study abroad and I wish them all the best. Everyone has their concerns and reasons to leave,” he said.

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Lee Cheuk-lam, 18, Diocesan Girls’ School

Lee is the only perfect scorer among the seven who plans to study abroad. She has already received a conditional offer to study law at Cambridge University.

“I have wanted to study at Cambridge since I was young and I want to expand my horizons by studying overseas,” she said.

Lee Cheuk-lam is the only one of the top scorers who plans to head abroad for university.

“I aspire to return to work in Hong Kong in the future, as it is my home and I would like to contribute [to the city] to the best of my ability. As for my future career, I will keep my options open, depending on which field of law I am most intrigued by in university.”

She was surprised by her perfect score, and attributed her success to self-discipline, persistence and an optimistic attitude.

“Preparing for exams while learning online was daunting, but I was able to alleviate stress through talking with my teachers and peers, who were always eager to provide emotional support,” she said.

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Jodie Chan Lok-yung, 18, St Stephen’s Girls’ College

The first student in her school to achieve a perfect score, Jodie plans to study medicine at the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK). Her decision to stay in the city is largely to do with her family’s plans to remain in Hong Kong.

“They have no plans to emigrate to other countries. Hong Kong is my home. I’ve been here for years and I love it, so I don’t want to leave,” she said.

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Her dream to become a doctor was partly influenced by her mother, a physiotherapist who shared her knowledge of the human body with Jodie, and her desire to do some good.

“I like helping people. I think being a doctor can impact people …so I think this is the ideal career for me,” she said, adding that the spread of misinformation during Covid-19 has made her realise how important it is to give the public accurate medical information.

Now that the DSE exams are finally over, she can start learning Korean: she’s a big K-pop fan.

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Serena Yu Sheung-wing, 17, St Mary’s Canossian College

Serena is a “super top scorer”. Not only has she attained a top score of 5** in all four core subjects and three electives, she has also earned an additional level 5** in an extended mathematics module elective.

She plans to study medicine in Hong Kong, with a focus in biochemistry, but has not decided between HKU or CUHK.

St. Mary’s Canossian College student Yu Serena Sheung-wing (super achiever) shows off her exam results at her school campus in Tsim Sha Tsui. Photo: SCMP/ May Tse

“I hope to discover new technologies that can advance the medical field. During this pandemic, I saw how the development of vaccines was a great contribution to the world. I hope to have similar accomplishments that can benefit Hong Kong and perhaps the rest of the world,” she said.

She was certain that she wanted to stay in Hong Kong.

“I feel a great sense of belonging in the city that I grew up in, and I really want to contribute to it. I hope that I can give whatever I can back to society because it has nurtured me so much, and I want to help make it better.”

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Martin Leung Pok-yin, 18, Queen Elizabeth School

Martin is the first perfect DSE scorer from his school since the DSE exam was introduced in 2012. He plans to study medicine at CUHK.

“I didn’t expect (the perfect score) at all. My mind was blank when I received my results,” he said.

With a keen interest in biology, he wants to learn more about anatomy.

Martin Leung Pok-yin receives his DSE exam results at Queen Elizabeth School in Mong Kok. Photo: SCMP/ Sam Tsang

“I have learnt about the responsibilities of being a doctor from online talks, and I’d like to bear those responsibilities,” he said, adding that he wanted to “serve the weak and the ill”.

His exam strategy was nothing more than being industrious.

“I would study more to familiarise myself with the subjects and memorise the details harder. If I wrote the wrong answers, I would reflect on the mistakes I made,” he said.

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Sunny Ching Long, 18, Ying Wa College

Like many of the other perfect scorers, Sunny plans to study medicine at CUHK. However, after completing his undergraduate programme, he hopes to go abroad.

“If possible, after completing my first degree, I would like to go abroad to explore and expand my worldview,” he said, adding that he wasn’t sure if he would stay in Hong Kong long term.

Becoming a top scorer was not without its challenges, especially with online learning.

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“There were times when I could not immediately ask my teacher a question, or when I could get distracted,” he said.

But Sunny and his classmates overcame these difficulties by keeping in touch over Skype and Zoom.

“Sometimes we would all set targets together, and everyone’s support made exam preparation feel less challenging,” he said.

Emily Chan Hoi-ying, 18, Diocesan Girls’ School

“Personally, I think online classes have benefitted my learning. I was able to take lessons and learn at my own pace, and this gave me more time to stay home and concentrate on my learning without the fuss of commuting around,” Emily said, saying the support from teachers, friends and family also helped.

She will also study medicine in Hong Kong, but has not decided between HKU or CUHK. The one thing she knows for sure is that she would be staying in Hong Kong to be with her family.

Emily Chan said online learning was good for her, as she was able to concentrate more on her studies.

“I aspire to study medicine and become a doctor in Hong Kong. Though it sounds typical, the reason why I want to become a doctor is because I would like to contribute to the society,” she said. “We can see how doctors play a crucial role in tackling Covid-19, and I aspire to be one of them.”

Reporting by Phila Siu, Amalissa Hall, Sammy Heung, Ngai Yeung, Mimosa Ngai, Bobo Chan, Jasmine Tse, Kelly Fung, and Chan Ho-him.

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