Brain Game: If you could change one thing about the HKDSE grading system, what would it be?

  • Each week, our readers will vote on their favourite answer and the contestant with the least votes is eliminated
  • The ultimate Brain Game winner will win a fabulous prize
Kelly Fung |

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Every Wednesday we ask our Brain Game contestants one interesting, thought-provoking or just plain quirky question. Their answers will be published anonymously in Young Post. Then readers vote for their favourite answer. We will eliminate the contestant with the least votes every week until we have a winner. The ultimate Brain Game winner will win a fabulous prize.

Votes close at midnight on Sunday.

Contestant 1 

How unfathomable a grading system it is! I tried to explore and understand the system, but it was too complex and I lost track of how someone could really shine. I recommend keeping it simple, with the full marks being 100. I would also teach students about the HKDSE marking system from the early stages of secondary school life so they will be mentally prepared. 

With regard to the recent issue of the grading of a Liberal Studies question, I would grade students based on their knowledge of the topic and how they expressed their opinions rather than their political stance. This is because LS is based on general knowledge.

Contestant 2 

I would change the grade range from 1-5  (5 being the highest) to 1-7, so that it would be in line with the globally recognised IB grading system. This would help give overseas universities better understanding of Hong Kong students who have different academic skills, and therefore make more appropriate selections and offers.

Contestant 3 

One thing that should be changed in the current HKDSE grading system is definitely the amount of pressure it puts on students. It basically expects students to memorise everything rather than actually understand what they are being taught. It is as if one’s intelligence can be summed up on a piece of paper (namely, a graduation certificate). After all, exams shouldn’t only be about getting good grades, but also about gaining knowledge.

Contestant 4 

If I could change one thing, I would create an overall grade. It would consist of a student’s score in the HKDSE, plus their work throughout the academic year. The HKDSE is very stressful for many students, so they might have achieved a level that is lower than usual. An overall grade would be a better representation of a student’s academic performance.

Contestant 5 

How can one test determine your future? Students taking the HKDSE need to learn and remember lots of information, which makes them more stressed. If learning isn’t motivational, all the work they spend years doing will be forgotten. 

We need alternative methods, other than the HKDSE, which are more beneficial to students. The grading system should be more creative to show and develop students’ capabilities and knowledge.

Contestant 6 

The HKDSE’s complicated grading system, ranking students from Levels 1 to 5 (not A to F), as well as the stars, has made the already confusing exam even worse. I think the HKDSE could instead use an internationally recognised and well-established language – emoji; 🤩 for proficiency; 😬 for a  pass, and 🙁 ... maybe not this one … Ahh! 💪 for work harder if you failed!

Contestant 7 

I have a dream. I hope a change can be made to the HKDSE. I think each subject should be divided into only pass or fail, so we can escape the fierce competition. Our personal values can’t be identified by our academic results alone, so we should be given a chance to do what we want. What do they say? Learning is not only about getting good grades! 

Contestant 8 

University admissions usually depend on grades obtained in the HKDSE. This causes a lot of anxiety among students as exam pressure takes over. Their performance in the exam may be badly affected by the stressful build-up, and therefore, the results do not accurately reflect their academic skills. I would place more emphasis on school-based assignments carried out over three years leading up to the exams. This would be a much better indicator of a student’s ability.

*In case of disputes, Young Post reserves the right to make a final decision on the winner.

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