This year’s liberal studies DSE was more difficult than previous ones, with political questions making a big appearance.
Paper 1, which included three compulsory data response questions on Hong Kong politics, plastic waste, and Chinese influence abroad, was both “surprising and expected”, according to Tim Chan, 17, of Munsang College. “There were no political questions earlier, so I expected them to appear. But it seemed like they were making up for not having them before.”
Ken Yip from Buddhist Sin Tak College did not think the exam was more difficult than before and said the questions covered “hot topics”. But he had a problem with time management in Paper 1. “I spent too much time on questions 1 and 2 and didn’t have enough time for question 3,” he said.
For Paper 2, students had to pick one out of the three questions that covered rare diseases, cultural conversation vs urban development, and K-pop. Ken avoided the first two questions. “Rare diseases was too hard and I didn’t see a relationship between culture and city development,” he said.
King’s Glory Education Centre liberal studies tutor Liu Tin-yan said the papers were not actually difficult but were more challenging because of their subject matter. “Political questions are ‘killer questions’, especially if students are not very familiar with them or haven’t prepared enough,” she said.
She believed Questions 1 and 2 of the second paper required the most background knowledge but gave students the best chance to excel. Question 3 was the “easiest” to get a pass but also the hardest in which to get a good mark. “Students may find the topics unfamiliar, but if they studied the materials, the questions are definitely doable,” Liu said. “They reward the well-prepared.”
“The exams now tend to have more data questions in Paper 1 and less hard knowledge,” she pointed out. “Both papers asked students to make comparisons which requires a good answering framework to show their knowledge.”
J. Yeung, a tutor at Beacon College, said the questions were balanced, not too hard, and lots of hints had been given in the data. “The topics covered were commonplace, regular topics, but students have to conceptualise well to get a good mark,” he said. “Overall the scoring range will be quite large.”
In Paper 2, for example, Question 3 seemed easier than the rest but it actually wasn’t. In fact, Yeung found all three questions to be of a similar level of difficulty, with Question 3 being slightly easier to answer, though still harder than it looks.
“The topic might be more familiar to students, but it still required them to bring in relevant concept words from the personal development section [of the syllabus]. Conceptualisation was still key,” Yeung said. “It was actually easier to stay on topic with Questions 1 and 2.”