An Overview of Secondary Education in Hong Kong

An Overview of Secondary Education in Hong Kong


In recent times, secondary education in Hong Kong has undergone a change. The New Senior Secondary (NSS) Education structure in Hong Kong along with Hong Kong’s Diploma of Secondary Education (HKDSE) was first issued in 2012. The Hong Kong education system was highly influenced by the British model. The NSS structure shortens the secondary education by a year. It makes the secondary education complete within 6 years instead of seven years and was introduced to an inaugural class of secondary 4 level students in September 2009. The new system comprise of six years of primary schooling, three years of junior secondary and three years of upper secondary (6+3+3).

The NSS is now more in line with the China, Australia and United States education system. Under this new education system, students have only one public examination- the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education at the end of the secondary 6 level. This is required to apply for University higher studies. There is no further examination required to pursue upper secondary education. Additionally, the academic structure of the bachelor degree is also changed during the beginning of 2012/13 academic year. The duration of bachelor degree education is changed from a three years program to a four years program.

The new Hong Kong Secondary curriculum

The modified secondary curriculum was introduced at the secondary 4 level in the year 2009. The students take one set of examination at the end of their upper secondary year during the secondary 6 level after completing six years of junior and senior secondary education. There is no need to take the Hong Kong Certificate of Education Examination (HKCEE) at the end of the secondary 5 level anymore. This was done to encourage students complete their secondary program and make more time to enrich their learning experience by studying non-academic courses.

The new HKDSE core curriculum consists of four primary subjects including Chinese, English, and Mathematics and Liberal studies. Students also need to take up four elective courses from a total of 20 different subjects along with Other Learning Experiences (OLE) and Applied learning (ApL). These courses are broad and diversified and can cater for different interests, needs and abilities of students. The Hong Kong Examination and Assessment Authority (HKEAA) announced the compulsion of students to take maximum of eight subjects (4 core subjects + 4 elective subjects) in the HKDSE examination.

Under the NSS academic structure, students can also take other languages including French, Japanese, Germany, Hindi, Urdu or Spanish as elective subjects to sit for International examinations. These examinations are jointly administered by the Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority (HKEAA) and other oversees examination bodies. The grades obtained by students in International examinations are indicated in the HKDSE certificates.

The HKDSE adopted standard-referenced reporting (SRR) for reporting student performance. There are five levels (1-5) with 5 representing the highest and best performance. Each level will depict the performance of each student at a given level. The standards of each performance level in SRR are determined by a team of experts. The HKEAA inform teachers, students and the parents regarding the levels of performance for all the subjects by utilizing different channels such as seminars, school curricular or through the HKEAA website.

School Based Assessment (SBA)

SBA is carried out by schools with students being assessed by their subject teachers. Each school students have to complete SBA of all subjects and the marks obtained will be reflected in the HKDSE examinations. The HKEAA established mechanisms and procedures to ensure SBA can be conducted in an independent and unbiased manner to make students’ ability and performance reflected correctly.

SBA is designed in a manner to make students complete most of their tasks under the teacher’s supervision. HKEAA also draw up exemplars, guidelines and criteria to ensure consistency among teachers when it comes to marking. They organize SBA training courses to improve teachers understanding of SBA. For subjects with a large number of students, HKEAA adjust the SBA mark by means of statistical fairness to reduce assessment discrepancies among schools. And for subjects with fewer students and subjects, SBA marks are adjusted through means of non-statistical methods.

Medium of teaching:

Schools have the option to adopt Chinese language for teaching non-language subjects at the junior secondary level. They also have the option to conduct classroom activities and research in English. One can find more English language schools at the senior secondary level.


Learnpick is an online marketplace for all kinds of tutoring and learning services. We provide a platform to help learners find home tutors, online tutors, expert trainers,tutorial centers, training institutes and online tutoring schools. Learners can also find local classes, workshops, online courses and tutorials on a huge variety of topics.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *