Frequently Asked Questions

The HKDSE qualification has gained wide recognition among various end-users, including the HKSAR Government, which is the biggest employer in Hong Kong, local tertiary institutions, as well as overseas authorities and governments. Students can apply programmes of overseas universities or institutions directly by using their HKDSE Examination results.

Around 300 tertiary institutions worldwide have listed their admission requirements for students with HKDSE qualification on the website of the Hong Kong Examination and Assessments Authority (HKEAA). For more details, please refer to relevant information posted on the website of the HKEAA.

If students would like to study in the Mainland, they can join the “Scheme for Admission of Hong Kong Students to Mainland Higher Education Institutions”. The admission scheme is executed based on the strength of students’ HKDSE Examination results.

If students would like to study in Taiwan, they can apply for “joint application"with HKDSE Examination results.

1.1 Applied Learning (ApL) Course

All along, student admission in tertiary institutions has followed the principle of institutional autonomy. For further studies in undergraduate programmes, the tertiary institutions value the learning experiences that students acquire in ApL. ApL subjects are recognised as elective subjects, or considered for award of extra bonus or additional information, varying by individual institutions, faculties or programmes. For details, please refer to the relevant websites of individual institutions or the Education Bureau (EDB) website.

Students with Level 2 or above in five HKDSE subjects (including Chinese Language1 and English Language) are eligible to apply for admission to Associate Degree or Higher Diploma programmes. In general, each student is allowed to use up to a maximum of two ApL subjects2 in the application. For details, please refer to the relevant websites of individual institutions or the EDB website .

Note1: For non-Chinese speaking students, institutions will continue to accept alternative Chinese Language qualifications for students who have met the specified conditions: “(a) students who have learned Chinese Language for less than six years while receiving primary and secondary education; (b) students who have learned Chinese Language for six years or more in schools, but have been taught an adapted and simpler Chinese Language curriculum not normally applicable to the majority of students in our local schools,”. Applied Learning Chinese (for non-Chinese speaking students)(ApL(C)) should, in general, be accepted as an alternative Chinese Language qualification, among other accepted alternative Chinese Language qualifications.

Note2: The two ApL subjects do not include ApL(C) as this subject is introduced to provide an additional channel exclusively for non-Chinese speaking students to obtain an alternative Chinese language qualification. Effective from the 2018 HKDSE Examination, the reporting of students’ performance of ApL subjects is refined to “Attained”, “Attained with Distinction (I)” and “Attained with Distinction (II)”. Performance of “Attained with Distinction (I)” is comparable to Level 3 while “Attained with Distinction (II)” is comparable to Level 4 or above of Category A subjects of the HKDSE Examination.

If students successfully complete the ApL course and achieve the result of “Attained” or “Attained with Distinction”, they can be exempted from taking up to two elective subjects related to the study category when studying the DAE programme. On a case-by-case basis, institutions will examine in details the ApL courses and relevant elective courses of DAE programme, and determine the number of exemption or the exemption based on the relevancy of the course content.

For details, please refer to the relevant website of DAE or the EDB website.

ApL(C) provides non-Chinese speaking students (NCS) students with an additional channel to obtain an alternative Chinese Language qualification. For the purpose of admission to post-secondary education programmes, ApL(C) is in general accepted as an alternative Chinese Language qualification, but it is not considered an elective subject. Currently, University Grants Committee-funded universities and most post-secondary institutions accept ApL(C) as an alternative qualification in Chinese Language for the admission of NCS students with “Attained” as the minimum grade required.

For employment, the Civil Service Bureau (CSB) accepts “Attained” and “Attained with Distinction” in ApL(C) as meeting the Chinese language proficiency requirements of relevant civil service ranks. For details, please refer to the relevant website of CSB or the EDB website.

1.2 Alternative Qualifications in Chinese Language for Non-Chinese speaking (NCS) Students

Starting from 2017 Joint University Programmes Admissions System (JUPAS) cycle, the HKDSE Examination Category B: Applied Learning Chinese (for non-Chinese speaking students)(ApL(C)) results are also accepted for the purpose of meeting the general entrance requirements in respect of Chinese Language of the 9 JUPAS participating-institutions and the SSSDP institutions as ACL, in addition to those under the General Certificate of Education (GCE), General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) and International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) Examinations. For details, please refer to relevant information posted on the website of EDB.

For information on the ACL accepted, the minimum grade required, and any specific requirements of individual programmes of the individual institution, please refer to relevant information posted on the website of JUPAS office.

Apart from the above conditions, institutions can exempt the general Chinese Language requirement in admission after considering the application case by case (as stated in Q.2 of Section 1.1), or relax the general requirement on Chinese Language based on the outstanding performance of individual student in other subjects.

Students studying non-local programmes can apply for admission to the UGC-funded institutions directly through non-JUPAS channel with non-HKDSE Examination results.

Under the policy of promoting biliterate and trilingual proficiency in students, the EDB is of the opinion that all students are entitled to study Chinese. Schools should provide all students with opportunities to learn Chinese.

For NCS students, the EDB encourages them to sit for the HKDSE Chinese Language examination. For NCS students having fulfilled the specified conditions (as stated in Q.2 of Section 1.1), they may choose to enroll for ApL(C), or to sit for relevant examinations such as IGCSE or GCSE administered by the HKEAA to obtain alternative qualifications in Chinese.

The GCSE (Chinese) Examination is offered to school candidates only. Students should submit their entry forms through schools which have registered as GCSE (Chinese) sub-centres. Further information on the Examination is available on the website of the HKEAA.

For NCS students having fulfilled the specified conditions (as stated in Q.2 of Section 1.1), they must sit for the GCSE (Chinese) Examination one year in advance of the year for their JUPAS application to meet the submission due date of alternative Chinese qualifications and relevant information, if they would like to obtain alternative Chinese qualification under the JUPAS application.

The institutions may consider the application case by case and handle the Chinese Language requirement flexibly for NCS students. For details, please refer to the websites of individual institutions.

1.3 Other Language Subjects

Students may choose to study “Other Languages” subjects (French, German, Hindi, Japanese, Spanish and Urdu)(HKDSE Category C subjects) as elective subjects. “Other Languages” subjects adopt the syllabus under AS level examination of Cambridge Assessment International Education (Cambridge International), and students can study through their schools and sit for this examination administered by the HKEAA. Students’ results in “Other Languages” subjects will be reported on the certificate of HKDSE. In selecting students for university admission, all eight UGC-funded universities recognise “Other Languages” subjects as unspecified elective subjects/bonus point calculation. For more details, please refer to the websites of individual institutions.

From the 2025 HKDSE onwards, Cambridge International AS level question papers will no longer be used for the above Category C subjects. Instead, HKDSE candidates will be required to take stipulated official language examinations. The results of candidates will be included in the HKDSE Category C results when they can meet the stipulated proficiency level. The existing subjects of French, German, Japanese and Spanish will be retained with the addition of Korean under the new arrangements.

For details, please refer to the respective website of the HKEAA .

1.4 Student Learning Profile (SLP) and Other Learning Experiences (OLE)

When selecting candidates, universities and post-secondary institutions would take account of a broader range of information of student achievements in different aspects, which could demonstrate that they possess the required competencies and personal qualities and therefore would benefit most from the post-secondary education. In view of this, SLP would provide good reference to institutions.

Institutions would accept SLP as a reference document which provides supplementary information on students’ whole-person development. Students could make reference to their own SLPs when completing the forms and submit their summarised information to JUPAS online application system. Meanwhile, students can either submit their full SLPs to JUPAS online application system and Electronic Advance Application System for Post-secondary Programmes (E-APP), or to bring their learning portfolios when attending interviews of institutions.

OLE is not a subject but one of the three essential components of the Senior Secondary curriculum which occupies 10 to 15% of the total lesson time. They are essential to facilitate students’ balanced and all-round development.

The Government has no plan to include OLE as one of the entry requirements for civil service appointment purpose. Nevertheless, government bureaux or departments may take SLP into account in assessing the suitability of the candidate for the job.

Similarly, we encourage employers to consider the information in SLP for a more holistic understanding of a candidate's strengths and abilities.

1.5 Non-local Qualifications

Recognition of non-local qualifications is essentially user-defined. Generally speaking, it is up to individual employers, professional bodies or education institutions to decide as to whether a particular qualification obtained by an applicant should be regarded as having met the applicable requirements for filling a job position, membership registration or enrolling in a study programme. As regards education qualifications awarded by granting bodies outside Hong Kong, the assessment of the Hong Kong Council for Accreditation of Academic and Vocational Qualifications (HKCAAVQ) can be sought, and such assessments will often be taken into account by the relevant employer/ body/ institution. Not withstanding, final decisions as to whether or not to accept particular qualifications for employment, registration and study purposes still rest with the employer/ body/ institution. For details, please refer to the website of HKCAAVQ.

For civil service appointments, qualification requirements for civil service posts are normally set with reference to qualifications obtainable under the local education system or from local institutions. Candidates holding non-local qualifications may also apply for government posts. The government will arrange qualifications assessment for these candidates according to the established procedures. Candidates will be considered for appointment if their qualifications are assessed as comparable in standard to the entry qualification requirements of the posts being applied for and that they can also fulfill the other requirements of the posts, such as those on language proficiency and work experience. For details, please refer to the website of Civil Service Bureau (CSB) .

Persons wishing to join the education profession should possess the required academic and/or professional qualifications. For more information, please visit the EDB website.

For persons holding non-local qualifications, they should approach the HKCAAVQ for assessment of their qualifications. They may submit the diplomas/ certificates, transcripts showing details of the courses taken, together with the fees required, to the HKCAAVQ for assessment. Information on assessment application is available from the HKCAAVQ website.

2.1 Admission Requirements of Local Universities and Post-secondary Institutions

Students attaining Level 3 for Chinese Language and English Language, Level 2 for Mathematics and Liberal Studies* in the HKDSE Examination (“3322”)**are eligible to be considered for admission to the 4-year undergraduate programmes of local publicly-funded and self-financing tertiary institutions. Individual institutions /faculties /programmes will determine the attainment level required for one or two elective subjects (usually at Level 2/3) and other admission requirements.

For the latest admission requirements, please refer to respective websites of the institutions.

* Citizenship and Social Development in lieu of Liberal Studies has been implemented at Secondary 4 since September 2021. The reporting grade of CS in the public examination is “Attained” or “Unattained”.

** From the admission of the 2024/25 intake, the GER of four core subjects for HKDSE candidates will be revised from “3322” to “332A”, i.e. “332” and “Attained”.

The GER are just minimum requirements that a student has to fulfill before they could be considered for admission. In consideration of the specific nature and needs of the programmes, individual institutions/ programmes may set specified elective subject requirements or give different weighting to different elective subjects in the actual selection process. For details, please visit the websites of respective institutions.

The current mechanism allows institutions to exercise flexibility on individual cases in student admission. The institutions might admit students with excellent performance in other aspects or academic aspect (e.g. arts or sports) even though these students might fail to fulfill the minimum admission requirements. For details, please visit the websites of respective institutions.

Regarding Mathematics in the “3322” requirement, only the compulsory part is required. Individual institutions may recognise the extended part in Mathematics (Module 1/ Module 2) as unspecified/ extra elective subjects for meeting the general entrance requirements. For more details, please refer to the websites of individual institutions.

Acquiring broader mathematical literacy is an essential component for students to prepare their further studies and/ or work. It is desirable for students to learn Mathematics at the senior secondary level for their preparation for future development. Mathematics is therefore a core subject.

Students may only take the compulsory part in Mathematics, which builds on the basic education for all students. For those students who would like to learn more about Mathematics and study engineering, business, science, etc. in institutions, they could take either one of the extended modules in Mathematics - Module 1 (Calculus and Statistics) or Module 2 (Algebra and Calculus).

Attaining the specified levels of the 4 core subjects and 1 elective subject as the general admission requirements applies to some institutions and does not guarantee admission to a particular institution or programme. To provide students with a broad and balanced senior secondary education, it is recommended that they should take 4 core subjects and 2 or 3 electives*.

During the actual selection process of the programmes, the number of electives and their results will be considered to be bonus points, additional information, etc. For details, please refer to the websites of individual institutions.

* From the admission of the 2024/25 intake, the GER of eight UGC-funded universities for 4 HKDSE core subjects will be revised as “332A”, and 2 elective subjects in Level 2 / Level 3. For details, please visit the websites of respective institutions.

In addition to the general entrance requirements of individual UGC-funded institutions, institutions may set specific faculty/ programme requirements for the two modules of the Extended Part. For details, students might refer to the websites of individual institutions or EDB “Entrance Requirements of University Grants Committee-funded Universities on Mathematics"

2.2 Other Study Pathways

Under the existing academic structure, our students, as always, can choose among multiple pathways available other than Degree programmes. They may apply for sub-degree programmes (including Associate Degree (AD) and Higher Diploma (HD) programmes), the Diploma of Applied Education (DAE) Programme or Vocational and Professional Education and Training (VPET) Programmes, according to their interests, needs and abilities, and the admission requirements of the programmes. They may also participate in the Youth Employment and Training Programme (YETP) or study in the Mainland/overseas. For the latest information on multiple pathways, please refer to “Designated Webpage for Secondary 6 Students".

The Diploma of Applied Education (DAE) Programme* provides an alternative pathway for secondary 6 school leavers as well as adult learners aged 21 or above to obtain a formal qualification for the purposes of employment and further study. For students who have successfully completed the DAE Programme, the qualification thus obtained is deemed comparable to the attainment of Level 2 standard in five subjects including Chinese Language and English Language in the HKDSE Examination. For students who have also successfully completed the Maths Plus complementary course, the qualification acquired under the programme is comparable to the attainment of Level 2 standard in five subjects including Chinese Language, English Language and Mathematics in the HKDSE Examination. For latest information of DAE Programme, please refer to the relevant website.

* Successful completion of the DAE programme means attaining an overall pass and achieving 80% attendance or above for each of the eight courses and completing over 10 hours of Life-wide Learning activities. Successful completion of a course means attaining an overall pass and achieving 80% attendance or above for that subject.

The minimum entrance requirement to sub-degree programmes (including AD and HD programmes) is Level 2 obtained in five subjects (including Chinese Language and English Language) in the HKDSE Examination (may include at most two Applied Learning subjects).

For details, please refer to the “Common Descriptors for Associate Degree and Higher Diploma Programmes”.

The Vocational Training Council (VTC) will continue to provide alternative educational pathways for early school leavers from Secondary 3 to Secondary 6 of mainstream education, providing them various programmmes, including Diploma of Vocational Education, Diploma of Vocational Baccalaureate, Certificate Programmes and Apprenticeship Training, and to prepare them for further studies or employment. For details, please refer to the websites of the institutions or the website of Apprenticeship Scheme.

The Hong Kong Institute of Construction, the Clothing Industry Training Authority and the Employees Retraining Council also offer various diploma/ certificate programmes for students to enroll based on their own interests. For details, please refer to respective websites of these organisations.

In addition, the Labour Department launched YETP and Youth Employment Start (YES) respectively to provide more information on employment and training to students who have left the schools. For details, please refer to the respective websites.

The government has announced that results in the HKDSE Examination are accepted for civil service appointment purposes with effect from 20 July 2012. Details are available at the website of the CSB.

For the arrangement of accepting results in the HKDSE Examination as equivalent to the results in the Common Recruitment Examination, please refer to CSB website.

The HKEAA has drawn up a set of level descriptors, with samples of student performance, to describe the performance standards of students. A set of generic descriptors of each level has also been published to enhance understanding of the public about the standards of the HKDSE. For details, please refer to the HKEAA website.

Before deciding whether to repeat S6, students should consider:

  • the reasons for the unsatisfactory results;
  • the confidence of making improvement in the new attempt;
  • the advice and suggestions of teachers and family; and
  • whether there are other study pathways.

The arrangements on School-based Assessment (SBA) for repeaters are as follows:

School repeaters have to be re-assessed in S6 and meet the SBA requirements of the respective subjects entered. If the schools do not offer the elective subject(s) that the candidates wish to re-take in the examination, the candidates may apply for exemption from the SBA for the particular subject(s). For details, please visit the website of the HKEAA.

Private candidates are not required to complete the SBA component of the subjects entered (except Visual Arts) and only the public examination results would be counted as final subject performance. For Visual Arts in which the SBA component carries a weighting of 50%, candidates will be required to submit a portfolio in lieu of the SBA.

Applicants with JUPAS applications in the previous cycle(s) can apply via JUPAS again in the current cycle on the basis of their past and/or current HKDSE Examination results, provided that they are NOT enrolled in full-time bachelor's degree programmes offered under JUPAS at the time they submit their JUPAS applications.

Repeating S6 is definitely not the only option. Student can consider applying for sub‐degree programmes or other pathways, including DAE, VPET, YETP of the Labour Department or employment. For details, please visit “Information on HKDSE Exam Results Release 2023” of “Designated Webpage for Secondary 6 Students".

The 9 JUPAS participating-institutions and the SSSDP institutions may consider the HKDSE Examination results obtained by the applicants in different sittings when assessing their eligibility for admission. Some institutions' programmes may impose penalties on applicants with HKDSE Examination results obtained in more than one sitting. In this regard, applicants should read the general entrance requirements and individual programme requirements and the websites of the respective institutions for further information .

The existing system has already flexibly considered and catered for the needs of students with SEN. There is a mechanism in JUPAS in which institutions can provide assistance and advice for students with SEN. The mechanism does not set a lower admission requirement and only aim at giving appropriate considerations on applicants’ special needs. For details, please refer to the JUPAS website.

The pathways for students with SEN taking the general curriculum are similar to those of otherseniorsecondary students. If they pursue further studies in local institutions, the institutions will provide them with support such as specific equipment to facilitate their learning, assigning counsellors/tutors to assist them, and prioritise their hostel applications.

They may also consider other pathways such as local sub-degree programmes, DAE, VPET, overseas study or employment.

To increase the opportunity of students with SEN to receive tertiary education upon the completion of senior secondary education, the Centre for Special Educational Needs and Inclusive Education of Education University of Hong Kong (EdUHK) established Jockey Club Youth Academy for Special Education Needs to provide these students experience for continuous learning and campus life. Details can be found at the website of EdUHK .

For existing support services of students transferred from secondary education to tertiary education, please refer to the relevant information of EDB websites, including “Integrated Education and Special Education Information Online" or "Contact Details of Local Post-secondary Institutions / related Organisations for Transfer of SEN Information of Secondary School Leavers and Support Services Available in those Institutions / Organisations” or Education Bureau Circular No. 4/2022 “Transfer of Information of Students with Special Educational Needs".

Under the existing academic structure, schools will make related arrangements when students approach the age of school leaving. Schools will apply vocational training or rehabilitation and support services, such as the skill centres under VTC, the sheltered workshop and the integrated vocational training centres under the Social Welfare Department. Students with mild or moderate Intellectual Disabilities may pursue full-time training, such as the courses provided by the Shine Skills Centre under VTC and the integrated vocational training centres organised by non-governmental organisations. For students with disabilities, who are not able to enter into the job market, can receive appropriate vocational training in the sheltered workshops to develop their social and economic potential to the fullest extent.