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Examination Regulations and Irregularities



  1. What Contingency and Precautionary Measures at Examination Centres have been made for the 2020 Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education Examination (HKDSE) by the HKEAA?

    For the details of Contingency and Precautionary Measures, please refer to our website here.



  2. I cannot attend the examination due to sickness. Will there be a supplementary examination?

    No supplementary examination will be arranged for written and practical papers.

    Provided that the doctor certifies the candidate is fit to take the examination and that if the candidate or his/her representative can submit the application to the HKEAA Southorn Centre office (Address: 12/F, Southorn Centre, 130 Hennessy Road, Wan Chai, Hong Kong) together with the letter of authorisation and other necessary documents at least one working day before the examination, the candidate concerned may apply to take the examination in the hospital.

    For seriously ill candidates, the HKEAA may consider giving an assessed mark on the part of the subject the candidate was absent from, based on the remaining parts/paper(s) that were sat in the same year (only applicable where a candidate was able to sit at least one written paper for the subject concerned), or giving an assessed subject result (given only to school candidates whose applications are supported by their principals). Candidates concerned should make sure that a telephone call is made to the HKEAA before the examination takes place. They should immediately consult a registered medical practitioner and be able to produce the original copy of the medical certificates stating clearly the illness and how long they are unfit to sit an examination. They should submit a written request within 21 calendar days from the date of the examination to ‘The Secretary General’ of the HKEAA (a letter from the school principal supporting the request is required for school candidates). All applications should be accompanied by supporting evidence such as the original copy of the medical certificates.

    For details, please refer to the 'Handbook for Candidates'.



  3. Am I allowed to bring electronic devices to the examination centre?

    Before the start of an examination, make sure that articles such as notes, books and all kinds of electronic devices (including tablets, mobile phones, multimedia players, electronic dictionaries, databank watches, smart watches or other wearable technologies with communication or data storage functions) are taken out from your pockets/your body or removed from your desk/the drawer of your desk. If these articles are found on your desk or in the drawer of your desk, in your pockets or on your body during an examination, you may be disqualified from the whole examination. In case of doubt, the Centre Supervisor or invigilators may collect the device from you for further inspection after the examination. You will be asked to complete and sign on a report form for follow up by the HKEAA.



  4. Am I allowed to bring a mobile phone to the examination centre? Will the Centre Supervisor collect my mobile phone before the examination?

    Centre Supervisors will not collect candidates’ mobile phones before the examination. However, you are strongly advised not to bring your mobile phone to the examination centre. If you have a mobile phone with you, it must be turned off (including the alarm function) and put under your chair in a position clearly visible to the invigilators. You are also advised to take out the battery (if possible) from your mobile phone before the start of the examination to ensure that no sound will be emitted because of the alarm function. If the alarm of your mobile phone/article that can emit sound rings during the examination, you will be subject to a mark penalty or subject downgrading.

    If your mobile phone or the alarm rings during an examination, the invigilation staff will ask you to show the mobile phone call/SMS/instant message log etc. and note down the relevant information for further investigation by the HKEAA. If you refuse to cooperate, the invigilation staff will record this in the report to the HKEAA.



  5. Am I allowed to use a calculator during the examination?

    Electronic calculators, including programmable calculators, may be used in any examination sessions (other than Chinese Language, English Language subjects) provided that the calculators are battery-powered, silent in operation, with no print-out or graphic/word-display facilities and do not use dot-matrix technology in the main display.

    The calculators must have been pad-printed with the ‘H.K.E.A.A. APPROVED’ or ‘H.K.E.A. APPROVED’ label. If the label on your calculator has faded with time, have it pad-printed again before the examination. Candidates bringing a calculator without the required label to the examination will risk a mark penalty.

    For the list of permitted calculators, please refer to the 'Handbook for Candidates'.



  6. Where will the pad-printing service for calculators be arranged by the HKEAA?

    The HKEAA has already authorised manufacturers of calculators to pad-print ‘H.K.E.A.A. APPROVED’ or ‘H.K.E.A APPROVED’ labels on the permitted calculators in advance. Candidates can purchase calculators with pad-printed labels in the market.

    If the label has faded with time, candidates may bring their calculators, together with their admission form, to the HKEAA Southorn Centre office (Address: 12/F, Southorn Centre, 130 Hennessy Road, Wan Chai, Hong Kong) for free pad-printing service in March 2020 according to the dates specified in the ‘Handbook for Candidates’. School candidates may apply for the pad-printing services via their school. Check out more details in the 'Handbook for Candidates'.



    • If a calculator is suspected to have been modified, will the invigilator take away the calculator for inspection? Will this affect the candidate concerned to continue the examination?

      If an invigilator suspects that a calculator has been modified, he/she may collect the calculator from the candidate after the examination and submit it to the HKEAA for inspection. The HKEAA will return the calculator to the candidate the soonest in order not to affect his/her use in other subjects.



    • Am I allowed to use multimedia players, Bluetooth/Wi-Fi devices, mobile phones, earphones with built-in radio in the Listening components?

      Candidates may use listening devices equipped with an FM radio. Except for these, other electronic devices (including but not limited to multimedia players, Bluetooth/Wi-Fi devices, mobile phones, earphones with built-in radio etc.) are not allowed.



    • If I find that the radio which I brought to the examination centre is not working properly, what should I do?

      You should report this to the Centre Supervisor immediately and request to take the listening component in the Special Room.



    • If there are construction works near the examination centre or other factors affecting the listening components, what should I do?

      Every year, the HKEAA informs government departments, public utilities, construction companies, secondary and primary schools near the examination centres the examination timetables and the examination accommodations, and requests them to minimise noise nuisances during the examinations.

      Candidates who feel that their performance is affected by noise or other irregularities should seek assistance from the Centre Supervisor or invigilators at the time the undesirable conditions arise or request to go to the Special Room in a listening component. However, candidates should not expect complete silence in the examination centre as they will not be completely shielded from normal background noise (e.g. from outside vehicles, normal school activities, school bells, etc.) during an examination.

      Complaints about the examination centre environment (e.g. insufficient lighting, loud noise disturbance etc.) and reception in the listening component must be made with the Centre Supervisor/invigilator at the examination centre. Candidates should provide specific information about the undesirable condition(s) encountered (e.g. time and duration of the noise/disturbance) before they leave the examination centre. Subsequent complaints of performance being affected by undesirable centre conditions or reception problem after the examination will NOT be entertained.



    • Will there be any mark penalty if I go to the Special Room during a listening component?

      Mark penalty will not be imposed on candidates who take the listening component in the Special Room due to reception problem or radio/earphones not working.

      However, a mark penalty will be imposed on candidates who take the test in the Special Room because they:

      - do not bring a radio;

      - do not bring earphones or batteries;

      - arrive 30 minutes or more after the reporting time;

      - bring an oversized radio or an electronic device other than a radio;

      - use their own radio in the Special Room.

      You can find more details in the 'Handbook for Candidates'.



    • Why are candidates not allowed to use their own radio in the Special Room?

      The Special Room is a room equipped with an ordinary radio. Latecomers or candidates who bring along a defective radio will be sent to the Special Room. To minimise disturbance to other candidates, the HKEAA has banned the use of own radio in the Special Room. A mark penalty will be imposed on candidates who breach this regulation.



    • Will the Infra-red Transmission System be installed in all listening centres? How does the HKEAA allocate candidates to centres with the Infra-red Transmission System?

      The HKEAA uses the Infra-red Transmission System in centres with poor radio signal reception so that these centres can be used for the conduct of the listening components. As the installation of the Infra-red Transmission System is not technically feasible in all venues, it will only be used in areas with shortage of suitable listening centres.

      Candidates are randomly allocated to examination centres with reference to their area choice.



    • If I am allocated to a listening centre using an Infra-red Transmission System, do I need to bring a radio or earphones to the centre?

      Candidates allocated to a listening centre using an Infra-red Transmission System do not need to bring a radio. However, candidates MUST bring their own earphones with two insulating rings on the plug for plugging into the receivers (diameter of plug: 3.5 mm) provided by the HKEAA.

      You can find more details in the 'Handbook for Candidates'.



    • Will I receive a mark penalty if I used a ball pen to answer questions which are required to be answered in HB pencil?

      Candidates are advised to use an HB pencil for questions which are expected to have more amendments on the answers during the examination. Candidates will not receive a mark penalty for answering such questions using a ball pen. However, the answers should be written clearly; otherwise the markers will not be able to mark the answers. Unless special instructions have been stated on specific examination questions or multiple choice questions, candidates are advised to use a blue or black ball pen in writing their answers. With the inclusion of all Category A subjects to Onscreen Marking, candidates are advised to have clear handwriting for markers to have a clear scanned image for marking.



    • I forgot to affix my barcode label(s) in an examination session. How will my scripts be handled?

      After the ‘Stop working’ announcement, you will NOT be permitted to stick barcode labels on your answer scripts/supplementary answer sheets/graph papers/MC answer sheets. If you have not stuck the barcode labels on the designated spaces on the cover and/or inner pages of your scripts as instructed, you will risk a mark penalty and the possibility of your answers NOT be marked. During script collection, to facilitate the scanning process, you will be allowed to stick a barcode label on the cover of your answer scripts/MC answer sheets under the supervision of the invigilator. You have to sign a report form before leaving the examination room for follow up by the HKEAA.



    • If a candidate takes photographs of the barcode label(s) or takes away the barcode label(s) from an examination centre or even uploads the photographs onto the Internet, what kind of penalty will the candidate receive?

      At the end of the examination, invigilators will collect the barcode label sheets separately. Candidates are not permitted to take photographs of any barcode labels or remove any remaining barcode labels from the examination centre; otherwise, they will receive a mark penalty. Candidates who display their barcode labels electronically or publicly will receive a subject downgrading.



    • How can I report to the HKEAA if I forgot to write question numbers on my answer books/supplementary answer sheets in an examination? Or if I wrote a wrong question number? What should I do if I found anything deviated from the normal examination procedures during an examination session?

      Remember to fill in the correct question number box on each page of the answer book/supplementary answer sheet on which you have written your answers. If you fill in the wrong question number or do not fill in any question number, you will run the risk of your answers NOT being marked. Candidates will NOT be allowed to fill in the question number box after the ‘Stop working’ announcement.

      Candidates who report to the HKEAA after the examination about not following the instruction of writing the correct question numbers/marking the correct question number boxes will NOT be followed up individually. The scripts of all candidates will be handled according to the stipulated procedures.



    • How are candidate’s complaints handled?
      • All complaints are dealt with by a Standing Committee of the HKEAA which is chaired by the Director – Public Examinations and comprising staff who are experienced in examination procedures and operations. (Note: Members of the Committee must not be personally involved in the cases under complaint.)

      • All letters/reports from schools, candidates and examination centres on examination irregularities, such as candidates’ complaints, disobeying instructions, falling ill during an examination or noise disturbance, are dealt with by the Standing Committee.

      • The Standing Committee meets on a regular basis during the examination period and investigates cases with substantiated evidence. Depending on the nature and circumstances of individual cases, the Committee will also contact the Centre Supervisors, invigilators, Oral Examiners, Waiting Room Supervisors and/or other candidates present in the same centre (as appropriate) in the process of investigation. The Committee may also check the video recordings of the examination, review the candidates’ scripts and perform statistical analyses in relation to the cases as appropriate.

      • Where there is strong evidence that a candidate’s performance on an examination is significantly affected by incidents, for example, loud noise, poor lighting or other environmental conditions, inappropriate conduct by centre staff, or sudden illness or injury which could not be resolved on the spot after reporting the case to invigilators, slight upward mark adjustments may be applied.

      • Where a candidate’s performance in a speaking examination is adversely affected by procedural, technical or human errors, or when the unsatisfactory quality of the recording makes it impossible to remark the candidate’s performance, the candidate concerned may be offered an option to re-sit the speaking examination at a re-scheduled time in order to provide a replacement mark since mark adjustment is not applicable to speaking examinations.

      • For straightforward cases, the Committee will take action in accordance with the guidelines laid down by the Public Examinations Board (PEB) and inform candidates concerned of the outcome before the release of examination results. Candidates who do not agree with the Committee’s conclusion on their cases should provide new/additional evidence and write to the HKEAA within 5 calendar days upon the issue of the notification. The Committee will reconsider the cases based on the new/additional evidence provided, as appropriate, and make recommendations on these cases to the PEB for consideration/decision.

      • For more complicated cases involving imposition of sanctions or special consideration, the Committee will compile reports with recommendations for consideration by the PEB. The PEB will examine the reports carefully and make a decision on the cases. The decision of the PEB will be conveyed to the candidates concerned on the date of release of examination results.








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