This year's DSE physics exam was one of the easiest ever with more straightforward questions than usual, educators and students reveal.
Wong Yiu-fai, vice-principal and physics teacher at Cheung Sha Wan Catholic Secondary School, noted the 2017 physics exam was as easy as the Hong Kong Certificate of Education Examination (HKCEE) physics exam, despite a few tricky questions. "For instance, students could be unfamiliar with the L-shape thermometer in Section 1B Q1. They need to understand how it functions before answering," says Wong.
Wong said some questions in this year's exam tested basic concepts such as free fall, as included in Section 1B Q4. He added that students needed to understand the concepts well and know how they apply in real-life situations. For example, Section 1B Q10 posed a situation where a thin slice of polonium was fixed on a brush to remove dust more effectively. “It tested how the ionising power of radiation functions - polonium releases particles to ionise air molecules, which can attract dust particles easily," explained Wong.
C. Y. Chau, a physics tutor from King's Glory Educational Centre, said previous exams required complex calculations and explanations of physics theories. "But this year, I couldn't find any questions testing these abilities.” Chau cited Section 1B Q2, a question about the speed and precautions of an air gun experiment. “It provided a diagram showing the position of the items. In previous years, nothing was provided; students needed to describe the experimental procedures. I wonder how [this year’s] examiners can distinguish outstanding students from others," he says.
Both teachers said this year's exam was set easier as fewer students selected physics as an elective.
Chan Pui-shing, 17, Carmel Secondary School, said most questions were straightforward. "Many students prepared Newton's Law as last year's exam report highlighted questions related to this topic were not [handled] well. Topics like wave refraction and interference were also covered. Fortunately, I had enough time to check my answers."