HKDSE: physical education, humanities, science ... should you drop an elective?

HKDSE: physical education, humanities, science ... should you drop an elective?

Dropping an elective is not a decision to take lightly

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Talking to your careers counsellor or teacher can help if you’re not sure what to do.
Photo: Sam Tsang/SCMP

The novelty of the new term has worn off, and now you’re wondering whether or not you should drop an elective. It’s not a decision to take lightly, as it could affect your chances of getting into university. Young Post asked Ng Tak-kay, one of the presidents at Hok Yau Club and principal of CUHKFAA Thomas Cheung Secondary School, for some advice to help you decide what’s best for you.

There are four compulsory subjects for those taking the DSE – English, Chinese, maths, and liberal studies. On top of that, students can choose up to four electives from subjects including physical education, humanities, science, and more.

Maths is a core subject, but students can also study extended maths: either calculus and statistics (M1), or algebra and calculus (M2).


Choosing the right curriculum for your university entrance requirements


Ng says most students choose two electives. Whether to give up an elective depends on your abilities and what you want to do in the future.

“There are many reasons people decide to give up an elective. It could be that the elective you chose is very different from what you expected. Maybe you realise the elective doesn’t fit your career path. It can be hard to cope with two or more electives. Or, you might think you’re not doing well enough in the core subjects, especially English and Chinese. In this case, giving up an elective seems like a reasonable and rational choice,” says Ng.

“Dropping an elective can give you more time, so you should feel less stressed. You can devote much more time and effort to your remaining subjects.”

But Ng says you need to be sure, because dropping an elective is a big decision.

“It can be risky. Giving up an elective won’t necessarily help you do better in your remaining subjects. And nothing is certain. If you accidentally fail your only remaining elective, that could ruin your chances of getting into university,” he says.


Get a head start! Prep for the Liberal Studies DSE exam while you have time


“Most importantly, look at the university admissions requirements. If you plan to study at a specific university, check how many electives you need.”

“[Just like with the core subjects] the minimum scores needed for electives vary, too. For every local university, you need at least level 3 in Chinese and English, and level 2 in maths and liberal studies (3322). But for some universities, you also need a level 3 in electives,” explains Ng.

Programmes will make it clear if you need to study a specific elective or get a certain score. For example, you need M1 or M2 at at least level 4 to study Actuarial Science at The University of Hong Kong.

“Be careful when deciding which elective to drop. Read the university admissions requirements carefully, talk to your teachers or career counsellors and make a strategic plan for your future. Avoid missing the chance to study the programme you want.”

And don’t forget the deadline for applying to the Joint University Programmes Admissions System (Jupas) is December 1 (11:59pm).


So what grades do you need?

These are the basic entry requirements for different universities. But remember, many courses have higher requirements, so check the specific conditions for the course you want to study.

  • City University of Hong Kong: four core and any two electives (3322+33)
  • Hong Kong Baptist University: four core and any one elective (3322+2)
  • Lingnan University: four core and any one elective (3322+2)
  • The Chinese University of Hong Kong: four core and any two electives (3322+33). Bonus points will be given to the third elective.
  • The Education University of Hong Kong: four core and any one elective (3322+2)
  • The Hong Kong Polytechnic University: four core and any two electives (3322+33)
  • The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology: four core and any two electives (3322+33)
  • The University of Hong Kong: four core and any two electives (3322+33)
  • The Open University of Hong Kong: four core and any one elective (3322+2)
This article appeared in the Young Post print edition as
End elective anxiety

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