Seemingly easier 2018 DSE Physics exam leaves students uncertain about their results

Seemingly easier 2018 DSE Physics exam leaves students uncertain about their results

The exam's new structure is more flexible but does it make the paper easier?

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The HKDSE Physics exam has a new structure that gives test takers more flexibility.
Photo: SCMP

The HKDSE Physics examination features a different structure from other exams that makes it more friendly to those with different interests in the subject, says students and teachers.

The physics exam is broken into three parts: two exams and an SBA, which accounts for 20 per cent of the final grade. Papers 1 and 2 are exam-based; both papers include multiple choice and long answer questions, but in Paper 2, students can choose two of four different topics on physics.

Pacino Leung, 17, from STFA Leung Kau Kui College, said the test was similar to last year’s paper. He also said it was suspiciously easy. “I think there may be a couple of traps and I fell straight into [them],” he said. “Luckily the topics which I’m less familiar with were covered less,” he said.

He was worried because his friends said the paper was difficult. “I know I’m not that good among my friends, so [it’s] impossible if only I [think] the paper [was] alright,” he said.


2018 DSE Maths exam was much harder than expected, with multiple choice questions the major hurdle


Lam Man-hon, 17, from PAOC Ka Chi Secondary School, said that the unique structure of the Physics exam gives test-takers more flexibility with how they approach the exam.

“Because the physics examination mixes multiple choice and long answer questions [across both papers], students can adjust [their strategy as to] which section to do first and which ones to save for later.”

The Mathematics exam, among others, separates the multiple choice and long answer questions into different papers. If the student is weak at what the first paper is testing, then their test-taking mentality will be affected during the second even if they are better at it.

King’s Glory Education Physics tutor CY Chau says that this year’s multiple choice questions were harder than in the past few years, that “there were fewer give-away questions”. Overall, the questions demanded more consideration from the test-takers.

“Additionally, this year’s examination had more questions that asked for test-takers’ interpretation of data; instead of testing their knowledge, it asked students to interpret the given data with rules and formulas, and present an answer that is in line with the question.”

Chau says this causes students to be less aware of how well they have done, because they would have no way to know whether or not the interpretation they gave is what the examiners want.

Edmund Ho with additional reporting by Joshua Lee

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