This year’s HKDSE Chinese exam was a lively “paper of death”

This year’s HKDSE Chinese exam was a lively “paper of death”

Teachers agree that this year’s HKDSE Chinese exam was far more emotive and vibrant than they have been before

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This year’s HKDSE Chinese exam was much longer than they have been in previous years

This year’s HKDSE Chinese exam, also known as “the paper of death”, was about people’s daily activities and life experiences, teacher and students revealed.

In the Chinese writing exam (Paper 2), students had to choose one out of three questions to answer, and they had to write at least 650 words in 90 minutes. Q1 asked students to use: “After that, the knot in my heart was finally unravelled” – which means that a person felt like they could finally breathe again – as part of a story. Q2 asked them to use the word “Footprint” as a title. The last question was given as a statement about how some say anger can be a bad thing, and some say it can be good. It then asked candidates to share their views using “Talk About Anger” as their title.

Secondary school Chinese Language teacher Simon Man says Q1 is about narrative and descriptive writing.


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“I think most students chose this question as it’s easier, but they need to be aware of how to write the content. About 60 per cent of the writing should be about events which ‘made them breathe again’, and the rest should be about how they felt afterwards. They also have to clearly write about what their inner struggles were and how they can be resolved,” said Man.

Man said Q2 tested students’ ability to improvise and imagine. “Q2 is a typical Chinese literature question. Students had to use their feelings or personal experiences to show the figurative meanings of ‘footprint’. They could have talked about their father’s footprints, the ‘footprint’ of their growth, or a historical footprint. Their language needs to be creative and descriptive if they want to score highly.”

A Form Six student surnamed Yu chose Q2 because it’s about life experiences.

“The question does not have a fixed genre. It allowed us to write a creative and thought-provoking piece,” she tells Young Post.

Q3 was fairly straightforward, Man said. “For an argumentative essay like this, students could discuss whether anger is good or bad. But a better answer would have seen students talk about the many levels of anger and their impact.”


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The Chinese reading exam (Paper 1) consisted of one modern text and one classical Chinese passage. The contemporary text used running as a metaphor for life, and the classical passage was about how you can find self-reflection in a mirror.

Q2 asked about literary devices such as metaphor, punctuation and exaggeration, which has also been seen in previous years. The question, a secondary school Chinese Language teacher Jenny Lee said, tested students on their knowledge of how these devices function and make an impact. Q2(ii) asked students why the writer used a quotation for the phrase “to throw behind myself”. Ben Fung, a Chinese Language tutor from King’s Glory Educational Centre, said that, “Students should ask themselves whether the quotation had another meaning. The surface meaning conveys the writer’s hair was thrown behind her head, but it actually meant the runner felt free from her troubles,” Fung said.


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Q7 asked candidates to describe the writer’s performance as a runner. “Students cannot copy the exact wording from the passage. No marks will be awarded if they do so. Students should have read the entire text and then used their own words to summarise what the passage is talking about,” said Lee.

Lee says some students may have had difficulty answering Q9. The question gives a sentence: “Many people are dissatisfied and frustrated with this world. I will ‘continue to run and enjoy the peace’.” It asked students if these words can be replaced by “understand the peace from running on the track”.

Fung said the “continue to run and enjoy the peace” may be a better option because running, like understanding an idea, needs a long time to process.

Q21 is about the classical text and contains another classical passage, and asked students what was similar in both texts. Lee said both texts implied that some people who don’t like their own appearances blame others or other things (like a mirror) for not reflecting what they want.

Form Six student Alan Kan Yik-fai said this year’s contemporary text was very long compared to previous years’. He said he barely finished all questions in the time given.

Edited by Ginny Wong

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