This year’s DSE Tourism and Hospitality Studies (THS) exam was the toughest compared to previous years, teachers and students agreed.
Paper One’s Section 1A consisted of 30 multiple-choice questions, some of which Modern Education’s THS tutor Kelvin Cheung said were difficult for candidates who had less travel experience and weak geographical knowledge.
Cheung considered the most challenging questions were Q. 14 and Q.21 which were based on the topic of destination geography. Q. 14 of Section 1A asked which set of capital cities were on the same latitude, while Q. 21 talked about the direct flying distances from Hong Kong to other countries.
“Students without solid geographical knowledge and travel experience would find these two questions unbelievably hard. Q. 14 challenged students most if they did not know the capital cities of countries like Papua New Guinea and Saudi Arabia. Candidates would be unable to answer Q. 21 if they did not know where the cities like Cairo, Johannesburg and Wellington were,” said Cheung.
Cheung said Paper One’s Section 1B (data-based questions) involved a lot of current issues. “This part in previous years usually provided promotional leaflets, but this year’s comprised data highlighting tourism carrying capacity of an island in Southeast Asia. If students were familiar with the issues like the carrying capacity in Cheung Chau, they were more able to answer this question, such as suggesting two policies that limited tourist arrivals in Q. 2(d),” he said.
A teacher surnamed Fok said this year’s Paper Two (essays) was challenging too. She was surprised to see the unusual combination of two THS theories, including Butler’s destination life cycle and Plog’s psychographic profiles of tourists in the first question. “Paper Two in previous years usually asked one theory but the combination of these theories was unexpected,” she said.
Candidate So Lok-yi from the Yuen Yuen Institute No.2 Secondary School also said Paper Two was very challenging. “Q. 2(b) required us to identify and explain two ways in which restaurant owners could solve the problem of food wastage in each area. But it was hard for us to suggest ways for all four functional areas like the food production area, food storage area, dining area and bar area. This question also did not carry heavy weights but we had to talk multiple things in a limited time, which was very demanding,” said So.
Cheung said students had difficulty in Q. 4(a) which asked about the pros and cons of hotel booking apps for last minute bookings. “Students without travel experience would have found the term ‘last minute bookings’ hard to understand,” he said.
Cheung added candidates had three issues to handle in Paper Two. First, they needed to talk about the pros and cons, but the paper in previous years only asked either advantages or disadvantages. Second, at least two theories were asked in one question. Third, questions involved more elements from the topic of destination geography.
Cheung said students may need to earn at least 80 marks out of the 105 total to get a Level 5**.