HKDSE Chinese history: similar to last year’s, with a few tricky questions

HKDSE Chinese history: similar to last year’s, with a few tricky questions

Teachers and students say comparison answers were the hardest part

Both teachers and students said this year’s DSE Chinese history exam was similar to last year’s, with a few tricky questions. Students had to combine historical knowledge with answering techniques like comparisons and map-reading skills.

Paper One, Part A (Compulsory) contained a couple of data-based questions. For Part B, students had to answer one of two modules.

A Form Six student surnamed Wong said this year’s Paper One Part A was similar to last year’s because it consisted of map-reading, matching and fill-in-the-blank questions. “It’s easier to secure marks in these straightforward types of question,” she said. “The topics, including the An Lushan rebellion in the Tang dynasty and the Cultural Revolution, were also very popular with us. Since we’d been well-prepared for these topics, the questions were easier for us to handle.”


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However, Shinno Choi, a tutor from King’s Glory Educational Centre, said some students found it difficult to name the places of events involved in the An Lushan rebellion. “They needed to have a good understanding of what happened in these places when answering the questions,” she said. “It wasn’t easy as many students had expected.

Choi believes most students would have selected Q2 in Part B, which asked whether Emperor Qin Shi Huang was able to consolidate his power after establishing the first unified empire. “Many students would use different aspects – political, social, economical, ideologic and military – to examine how successful his rule was, but it wasn’t easy to handle a chunk of policies under these aspects,” said Choi. “They should have evaluated each of his policies, such as building the Great Wall, unifying the currency and measurement, abolishing feudalism, burning books, and burying scholars. The best way to handle this question is to list the policies based on the given sources, explain them using the historical evidence, and explain why each policy did or didn’t consolidate Qin’s power,” Choi said.


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Q5 asked about the difference between the Self-Strengthening Movement and the Hundred Days’ Reform in terms of educational and military aspects. “It tested students’ ability to reason and generalise the key policies of each reform, and make a comparison,” Choi said.

For Paper Two, students had to choose one of six modules and answer two out of the three questions for it.

HY Fung, a tutor at Modern Education, said one question in module three was very tricky. It offered three reasons for the failure of Wang Anshi’s economic reforms in the Song dynasty – including the lack of confidence in Emperor Shenzong, the opposition of the conservatives, and Wang’s inability to choose the right person for the job – and asked the candidates to choose the most critical reason and explain why the other two were not important.

“I believe many students are familiar with Wang’s reforms, but this question was challenging because it involved comparisons,” said Fung. “To tackle this question, they needed to explain why their choice was the most crucial one, and then compare why other two were less important. If students chose Wang’s inability to select the right person, they needed to name other, more suitable officials. This question required a highly-structured essay to get a high score.”

Edited by Sam Gusway

This article appeared in the Young Post print edition as
Tricky questions in Chinese history DSE

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