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The Competitive Nature of Hong Kong International Schools

If you ask most expat parents living in Hong Kong about school admissions, you are likely to hear descriptions like 'extremely competitive', 'stressful' or 'a lot of pressure.' The reason schooling in Hong Kong has gained a reputation for being so tough is due to the call for international curricula and the high demand placed on the private education sector.

Hong Kong is a thriving international city with a booming expatriate community. There is a higher demand for international schools than can currently be catered for which means a secure admission is a highly prized asset.


Parents and students who have their sights set on an international school, have a long road ahead of them. Age dependent, most of the admission processes for these schools will include an entrance exam that assesses the child’s Maths and English proficiency.

For younger students like kindergarteners, an assessment interview will be conducted to measure the child’s aptitude and abilities. It is advisable that parents get an early start on the admission process because many of the top-performing schools will already have waiting lists for particular age groups.

The pressure to secure a position in a top international school starts as early as kindergarten. This is because it provides the student with a necessary head start that will serve them well throughout their educational career. Gaining admission to an elite kindergarten means a higher chance of admission to a good primary school and then to a good secondary school. Prestigious foundational education all but guarantees admission to an exclusive top tier university.

Apart from the educational trajectory that a top performing international school can offer, many parents find it easier to relate to curricula and staffing that reflect their heritage.

Having a curriculum and a broad staffing representation that is largely influenced by the family’s origin country is often preferable to parents. It helps them to bridge the gap of living in a multicultural society, while also instilling a sense of pride and cultural integrity within the child.

As rewarding as a ticket to one of these schools is for the students, it can be just as pleasing for the parents. Most of the international schools have a supportive parent community that is made up of both expatriates and native Hong Kong parents. This community of like-minded individuals can be highly advantageous when it comes to supporting their child as well as socially beneficial for everyone involved.