DSE-day preparation and what to do if you don’t get the exam results you wanted

By Ben Pang

Avoid stress on the big day by having a clear plan of how you will handle any scenario – no matter what results you get

By Ben Pang |

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The HKDSE results will be released on July 13, but you shouldn’t wait until then to start thinking about what you’re going to do. If you have a clear plan for every possible outcome you’ll save yourself a lot of stress on the day.

Young Post asked Hok Yau Club Student Guidance Centre director Ng Po-shing for some useful advice to make sure you’re prepared for any eventuality.

Ng’s advice is to expect the unexpected and start planning early! Some students are overly confident about their DSE results so they don’t do anything before the big day.

But this isn’t a good idea as anything could happen. If you don’t get the scores you expected and you don’t have a backup plan, you will end up stressed. When you’re stressed, you’re unlikely to make the best decisions.

“With a detailed plan, your nerves are less likely to take over. A calm and positive mind helps you handle any challenges on the big day,” says Ng.

Depending on your results, you might want to change the courses you are applying for. You can modify your programme choices from July 14-16 on your Joint University Programmes Admissions System (JUPAS) account.

Ng stresses that one of the most important things to remember is that although the modifying period is from July 14-16, each candidate is assigned only a 24-hour period in which to change their choices. You won’t be able to change this period or change your choices outside of these 24 hours. Your slot will be assigned at random, so log in to your JUPAS account and make sure you know when your window is. You can check which time slot you have been assigned by logging on to your JUPAS account from June 14 at 9am. Remember that you are also only allowed to change your choices once.

Ng stresses the importance of predicting your best, average and worst results. He suggests devising several strategies based on these “expected” scores. If you get excellent results, you can stick to your original plan or put your favourite but competitive programme as your first choice [A1]. Just remember that the third choice [A3] serves as a crucial backup choice which is likely to guarantee your spot at university.

“2015 JUPAS admissions scores of nine JUPAS participating-institutions serve as a good indicator. Bear in mind your overall DSE scores should be higher than the median scores of your selected programme in [A3],” says Ng.

If you think your score won’t be very high, Ng suggests applying for non-JUPAS programmes, ranging from degrees and higher diplomas to certificates at places like Hong Kong Shue Yan College, Hang Seng Management College, the Institute of Vocational Education (IVE) and other recognised higher education institutions.

Some schools organise a mock exam release a few days before July 13. The main purpose of this is to help students visualise the important things they will encounter after receiving their results.

Ng says that this workshop reminds students of the processes of programme choices modification and university admissions.

“Most workshops will also arrange a number of mock admissions interviews for students who are applying for higher diplomas or associate degrees,” says Ng.

“Students can identify their weaknesses and get nervous blunders out of the way before attending the real one,” he adds.

If you get a 5** in every subject, but a level 2 in your English Language or Chinese Language (level 3 in these two subjects are the minimum university requirements for JUPAS applicants), Ng says you can repeat Form Six and combine your DSE results.

An alternative route into university is through associate degrees or higher diplomas. Holders of these qualifications can apply for some degree courses. For example, City University has Advanced Standing One and Two systems. These standing systems offer students who have completed associate degrees or higher diplomas, with good academic results, admission into second or third year of a degree programme. If you don’t think your DSE results will get you into university, it might be worth checking out the entry requirements for the Advanced Standing Systems and planning which associate degree or higher diploma you could take to get you into university at a later date.

Ng says that students who get a total score of around 20 in five subjects have a lower chance of getting into a bachelor degree programme. If this applies to you, Ng suggests looking at programmes which have a specific formula to calculate students’ admission score. That way, you know whether your score is enough.

Another option if your score is around the 20 mark is to apply for the bachelor programmes at non-JUPAS institutions like Hong Kong Shue Yan University and Chu Hai College of Higher Education.

Students who score less than 20 should consider putting associate degrees or higher diplomas as higher choices, despite the intense competition for these programmes.

If you didn’t score level 2 in five subjects, you can apply for the Diploma of Foundation Studies at IVE or the Diploma Yi Jin at the member institutions of the Federation for Self-financing Tertiary Education, like the Hong Kong Institute of Technology.

Most importantly, remember that not getting the DSE results you hoped for isn’t the end of the world. There are plenty of opportunities out there no matter what your skills and qualifications, and going to university isn’t the only path to success.