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5 Study Tips for the HKDSE Liberal Studies Exam


If you’re looking for tips to help you ace the Liberal Studies exam, you’ve come to the right place. The HKDSE Liberal Studies paper has a reputation for being the most challenging exams secondary school students have to face. According to a guide published by education authorities in 2007, Liberal Studies aims at "broadening students’ knowledge base and enhancing their social awareness through the study of a wide range of issues."

How is the Liberal Studies Exam Scored?

There are 2 papers in the HKDSE Liberal Studies exam.

Paper 1 is comprised of data-based questions. It is a 2-hour exam with a weight of 50% for the total mark.

Paper 2 is made up of extended questions and students will sit for 1 hour 15 mins. Paper 2 holds a weight of 30% for the total mark. The remaining 20% of the total mark is derived from a school Based Assessment.

It’s understandable that students may feel trepidation as the exam date looms closer but preparation is 90% of the battle won and we have some great tips to help you prepare for the challenge. These tips come from the experienced tutor Liu Tin-yan of King’s Glory Education derived from an interview she did with YP.

1. Zero in on your Themes

The HKDSE Liberal Studies curriculum has six main themes. These themes range from local issues to globalism to the environment. Focusing more intently on the most common ones, is a good rule of thumb.

Liu’s offers some crucial advice. "Out of the six modules, three are more likely to emerge than others year after year. If you are short of time, focus on Modern China, Hong Kong Today, and Globalisation thoroughly as these topics appear in the paper again and again. Some students are not comfortable with topics like Modern China and Globalisation, because they think the topics are too complex and too big. But I think a good attitude to have is to study them thoroughly even if you think they’re too difficult."

This doesn’t mean students need not study the remaining three subjects. It simply means they should devote more attention and study these three more in-depth. The markers want to see that students are able to go in-depth on more than just one topic.

Liu suggests that students should "read extensively on current affairs and controversial issues related to the city, such as social and housing problems, social mobility, and quality of life."


2. Pace Yourself