The Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority (HKEAA) announced on Friday that it is scrapping the DSE English oral exam scheduled for March this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic situation.
It's the third year in a row that the exam has been cancelled, with more than 46,000 students affected this time.
The authority said it will also postpone practical tests for music and physical education to late May or early June.
Professor Ricardo Mak, HKEAA's director of public examinations, said cancelling the English oral exam was a difficult decision to make, but students can still demonstrate their aptitude via the school-based assessment (SBA).
“SBA already covered the English speaking ability of the candidates. They still have the opportunity to demonstrate their English speaking skills. And to avoid the risk of infection, we made the reluctant decision to cancel the English speaking examination this year,” he said.
Mak said the assessment weightings for three components of the English subject – reading, writing, listening and integrated skills – will be increased accordingly, while that of the school-based assessment will remain unchanged.
Professor Wei Xiang-dong, the authority's secretary general, said while the HKEAA does not want to postpone this year’s DSE exams, it's hard to predict what the pandemic situation will be like.
He said the authority will make announcements as soon as possible if there are any further changes, adding that experts will decide under what circumstances the exams would have to be pushed back.
“We hope the exams can be held on time. But we need to work out some possible alternative arrangements with schools. So even if something happens, we do have a plan,” Wei said.
The HKEAA added that it will put in place stringent infection control measures at examination centres, including maintaining wide enough distances between candidates and requiring students to fill in health declaration forms.