Teachers and students have said this year's DSE geography exam tested the ability of candidates to interpret maps. They also had to use geographical perspectives to talk about social current issues.
Paper One consisted of three sections: Section A was a set of 40 multiple-choice questions, students needed to choose two out of four data-based questions in Section B, and in Section C students had to pick one out of three essay questions to answer.
A Form Six student surnamed Jim said Q6 in Section C had been particularly challenging. Students were asked to explain the characteristics of the global locational distribution of the IT industry, and to use the US as an example of how the government is expanding the IT industry. "I wonder if other students were familiar with how developed the IT industry in the US is," she said. "I used Silicon Valley as an example, but it was hard trying to describe how the government has expanded the IT industry there."
The other questions were fairly straightforward. "Q1 in Section B was about plate boundaries and volcanoes' locations. We had to know about and explain the formation, distribution, negative effects, risks, and opportunities of volcanoes. These are all issues we've covered before."
HKDSE history exam not repeating itself - 2017's test tougher than last year's with tricky parts to test reading accuracy
Many of the questions in Section B tested students on their map- and photo-reading skills, a geography teacher surnamed Chan said. "Q1 asked students to discuss volcanic activity in the Philippines and in Iceland, but they had to first identify these two places based on clues on a map, before talking about the differing characteristics of the volcanoes there," he said.
Chan said students needed to watch out for the questions that used "account for". "Q3(b) in Section B asked students to account for the reasons why the agricultural activity in the Sahel region in Africa couldn't provide sufficient food. Students had to identify and explain the reasons they gave to score full marks," Chan said.
Titus Chan, a geography tutor at Modern Education, said most questions required students to discuss opposing views. "For instance, Q3(b) in Section B asked students to discuss a reason for, and a reason against, cash crops being grown to solve the food shortage problem [in the Sahel region]. Q2(d) asked candidates to discuss the merits and demerits of rehabilitation in the district of Sheung Wan. In future, students might want to discuss current geographical topics from different perspectives as well," he said. Titus Chan added this year's Q7 in Section C was quite tough as many students might not have an in-depth understanding of the nutrient cycling of the tropical rainforest.
Paper Two (electives) were about geographical issues that may be familiar to students, like sandstorms in northwestern China, and the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge project. Titus Chan said students needed to keep in mind other current social issues and use them to supplement their answers in this question, as well as applying geographical angles to their answers.
Students also had to remember important rock types, including tuff and granite. "Q5 in Paper Two, for instance, asked students to talk about the formation and the characteristics of volcanic rocks, and to explain their relative importance in the shaping of Hong Kong's physical landscape. This sort of question has appeared in previous years in regards to rock types," he added. "They should get familiar with their characteristics, their formation, their distribution, and the relationship between the city's landscape and landform."