The first written HKDSE exam starts tomorrow, but what can you do to prevent yourself from making any careless mistakes in the run-up to your own assessments? A DSE candidate might have been saved two weeks ago by a school security guard who gave them HK$100 to get to the right exam centre when they showed up to the wrong one, but you shouldn't go around expecting the same sort of treatment if it happens to you. In fact, it’s best to not let that happen at all. Hok Yau Club Student Guidance Centre director Ng Po-shing and secondary school Chinese Language teacher Jenny Lee share their tips and tricks on how to better prepare for them.
Plot your route
Lee says you should visit the exam venues a day or two beforehand. That way you’ll know for sure how to and how long it’ll take you to get there.
“It’s easy to get lost or to head to the wrong centre – exam days are stressful,” she says. “Map out two routes to the centres. Always leave yourself enough time to get there.”
You should try to get there at least 15 minutes before your exams start, as you’ll lose focus if you arrive late, sweaty and out of breath. “Arrive earlier or have breakfast somewhere close by. You’ll give yourself enough time to mentally get ready.”
Don’t panic if you end up at the wrong place
It’s easy enough to say don’t be late – but what should you do if you don’t turn up on time or if you end up going to the wrong place? A spokeswoman from the Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority (HKEAA) told Young Post that exam invigilators will tell you to head to the right venue if time allows. If you’re more than 15 minutes late for a speaking exam, you will need to reschedule a new exam date. If you end up at the wrong venue for a written exam, you can still sit for the assessment, but you run the risk of having to complete it in a language you weren’t expecting – one centre will have the exam in Chinese, and another centre will have the same exam in English. Be wary – if you turn up to the wrong centre more than once without an acceptable explanation, you’ll be penalised, and you won’t receive any extra time to recover the time that you’ve lost.
Prepare everything for your exams
Ng says you should get all your documents and equipment ready a day before the exam. You won’t be allowed to take the exam without your admission form or identity card, Ng says.
“Make a checklist to remind yourself what you need to bring along,” he adds.
If you are assigned to a radio-broadcast centre for your listening exams, bring your radios and your earphones. Ng says you need to check if everything works before the exam – and bring a spare radio and extra batteries. Don’t rely on other things like your mobile phone or a multimedia player, as they won’t be allowed during the exams.
Some candidates have misunderstood how the special rooms are used during the listening assessments, Ng says – they’re only for use for students who have problems with reception or if their earphones aren’t working properly. Students who don’t bring their radios because they want to take the exam in the special room will have marks taken away.
“The penalty also applies to students who don’t bring earphones or batteries, arrive 30 minutes or more after the reporting time, and other infrequent situations,” Ng adds.
Lee says that according to the 2017 HKDSE Handbook , you need to bring earphones in. “If you take the listening exam at the centres using the Infra-red Transmission System, your earphones should have two insulating rings on the 3.5mm-diameter plug. These earphones differ from the ones you use on your phones. Without these types of earphones, you will have to go to the special room and you will be penalised.”
Check your phones before you go into the exam
Make sure that your phone is either off, or on silent, Lee says. “Don’t take pictures of any barcode labels because you’ll be penalised. Your marks will be downgraded if you upload these labels online. Make sure you remove [electronic] devices [like a databank watch or an MP3 player] from your pockets and your desk,” Lee warns, as you’ll be disqualified if they’re found on you.
Lee adds you should remember not to write anything on the backs of things, like your calculator or your admission forms. And don’t try to hide notes in your pencil bags or calculator jackets either.
Other key reminders
Remember to bring a jacket in case the exam room is cold, Ng says. The HKEAA isn’t responsible if there’s an “unsuitable room temperature”, so don’t try to blame lost marks on that. Ask your invigilators for help if there are other things disturbing you, like too much noise or if there’s a power outage. If you miss an exam because you’re ill, be warned – you won’t get a make-up exams because of it. For more exam instructions and regulations, read the 2017 HKDSE Handbook.
So, are you all set for your exams? Do you have an extra HK$100 in your pocket – just in case you end up at the wrong centre too? The Young Post team wish you all good luck!