There were no straight-A students in the batch. The best performers were five students who obtained two As. A further 63 candidates scored one A each. The results were rather uninspiring with only 72 candidates, or 1.6 per cent, meeting the minimum requirement to get into university.
The advanced supplementary level in the use of English was the most popular subject, with about 86 per cent of the candidates taking it. The pass rate was 49 per cent, a drop of 20 per cent compared to last year. The pass rate for Chinese was 77 per cent, 18 per cent lower than 2012.
This year 5,322 private candidates registered for the A-level, with only 4,500 people sitting for it, making it the smallest group in the history of the exam. Most of the candidates were repeaters and took only one subject. The least popular subject was physics, which had no takers.
Wan Tak-wing, acting general manager of the assessment department of the Exam and Assessment Authority, said this year's A-level was only for private candidates and not comparable with last year when more than 40,000 private and school students took it.
Wan took the exam when it was introduced in 1980. He said only about 10,000 candidates took the exam in its first year. And about 2 per cent, including him, scored enough marks to enter university, Wan added.
"We didn't have much pressure preparing for the exam at that time and it was perhaps easier than later ones. Students have been studying harder to get good scores. This is also what we hope to see," he said. "The A-level was an important milestone in Hong Kong's education."
Tong Chong-sze, secretary general of the authority, said the A-level had fulfilled its task. "We're now ready for the next phase of our mission," he said. "We believe the DSE will continue to serve the city well."