HKDSE 2019: Maths exam tested students’ understanding of mathematical concepts, not just their memory

HKDSE 2019: Maths exam tested students’ understanding of mathematical concepts, not just their memory

Students had to draw their own diagrams from scratch and solve problems without a calculator

This year’s Mathematics DSE exam had some highs and lows: Paper 1 was harder than last year, while Paper 2 was harder, according to tutors and students who took the exam yesterday.

Dick Hui, a tutor at Modern Education, told Young Post that Question 19 on Paper 1 was especially difficult.

“This question required students to apply the concepts from four different topics: Coordinate Geometry, Completing the Square, Concyclic Points and Transformation of the Graph,” said Hui.

He added that it also asked students to illustrate their in-depth knowledge of the relations between different geometric shapes.

Queen’s College student, Bill Sham, 16, said, “I’ve never seen or done anything like Question 19; I totally got stuck there.”

One of the sub-questions of Question 19 asked candidates to “find k, so that the area of the circle passing through F, O and U is the least.”

Hui explained that students needed to realise that OF was the diameter of the circle. “Often, candidates aren’t able to associate the concepts that they learn from different topics,” he said.

The question was especially difficult because there was no diagram, so students had to draw their own to visualise the whole picture.

“Students may have also found Question 17 on Paper 1 hard. It’s about coordinate geometry and locus. Again, there is no diagram provided, so students had to draw their own. Students tend to handle these kind of indirect questions poorly,” said Hui.

“I don’t think I did well because I couldn’t figure out some of the questions in Paper 1,” said Karen Kwan Oi-ki, 17, from the Methodist Church Hong Kong Wesley College.

“I think this year’s paper was harder than those from previous years. The questions were presented in a more complex and indirect way. You really needed to think more,” she said.

Although Paper 2 was relatively easy this year, the questions were still slightly unfamiliar, said Beacon College tutor Ken Tai Ho-kei.

“Students had to use the information given to make their own diagrams. In past years, diagrams were usually provided in the question. This year, it just took more time,” said Tai.

Tai said that there were some questions with missing information that meant you couldn’t simply solve them using a calculator. Question 19 on Paper 1 is one example. Usually, there are some short-cuts for Completing the Square. But with the unknown “k”, students had to do the calculation in a more time-consuming way.

“This year’s exam tested whether or not students had fully understood all the concepts. If students only memorised the short-cuts, they won’t have known how to do it.”

Edited by Charlotte Ames-Ettridge


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This article appeared in the Young Post print edition as
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