The process of historical investigation

Chapter 5 Assessment

5.5 Public Assessment

To what extent …?

Table 5.1 Question words

Tests and examinations should not be used simply for ranking student performance. They can be used for formative purposes as well. Teachers should enable students to review their test/examination performance, identify areas for possible improvement, and work out ways to enhance their knowledge and skills.

There are two illustrative examples in senior secondary History that the principle of inclusiveness has been addressed. Firstly, the written examination will follow the current HKCEE/HKALE practice of setting questions of increasing difficulty in the data-based question section, so that students of different calibres can be accommodated; secondly, the Elective Part aims to accommodate students’ personal needs, interests and ability levels by allowing them to work on mini-research studies of their own choice.

(d) Standards-referencing

The reporting system is “standards-referenced”, i.e. student performance is matched against standards, which indicate what students have to know and be able to do to merit a certain level of performance.

(e) Informativeness

The HKDSE qualification and the associated assessment and examinations system provide useful information to all parties. Firstly, it provides feedback to students on their performance and to teachers and schools on the quality of the teaching provided. Secondly, it communicates to parents, tertiary institutions, employers and the public at large what students know and are able to do, in terms of how their performance matches the standards. Thirdly, it facilitates selection decisions that are fair and defensible.

5.5.2 Assessment design

The table below shows the assessment design of the subject for the 2014 to 2016 HKDSE Examinations. The assessment design is subject to continual refinement in the light of feedback from live examinations. Full details are provided in the Regulations and Assessment Frameworks for the year of the examination and other supplementary documents, which are

available on the HKEAA website


Component Description Weightin g

Duratio n



Paper 1

Paper 1 will consist of data-based questions, which will fall within the Compulsory Part.

All questions will have to be answered.

Various types of historical sources will be used, which may include extracts from written sources, statistics, and visual materials such as maps, cartoons and photographs.

50% hours

Paper 2

Paper 2 will consist of seven essay-type questions, of which candidates may attempt any TWO. The questions will fall within the Compulsory Part.



School-based Assessment (SBA)

A two-task course assignment related to the candidates’ selected electives. The weightings of the tasks are as follows:

Study outline 7%

Study report 13%

Schools should use standardised School Candidates’ SBA Marksheets provided by the HKEAA to submit their students’ SBA scores.


* Theme A (3)(ii) and Theme B (4)(iii)b will only be examined in Paper 2.

Table 5.2 Components of the public assessment for History

5.5.3 Public examinations

The public examinations for senior secondary History will be aligned with the “thematic approach” and “enquiry learning approach” - the pedagogies adopted for teaching and learning this subject. The assessment of historical concepts and knowledge will be carried out via structured tasks within an enquiry framework, which demands understanding and evaluation of selected sources, and extended analytical responses.

Assessment items will assess students’ performance in a broad range of skills and abilities.

Given History’s assessment objectives set out above, the most ideal question types are data-based questions and essay-type questions, as they can test a wide range of abilities such as understanding major historical events, analysing historical data and presenting systematic

arguments. Data-based questions test students’ ability to interpret historical data, while essay-type questions target students’ ability to present logical and coherent arguments.

Schools may refer to the sample and live examination papers regarding the format of the examination and the standards at which the questions are pitched.

5.5.4 School-based Assessment (SBA)

In the context of public assessment, SBA refers to assessments administered in schools and marked by the students’ own teachers. The primary rationale for SBA in senior secondary History is to enhance the validity of the overall assessment and extend it to include the assessment of students’ ability to conduct historical enquiries and to communicate their research findings to others effectively.

There are, however, some additional reasons for SBA in History. For example, it reduces dependence on the results of public examinations, which may not always provide the most reliable indication of the actual abilities of candidates. Assessments based on student performance over an extended period of time and developed by those who know the students best – their subject teachers – provides a more reliable assessment of each student.

Another reason for including SBA is to promote a positive “backwash effect” on students, teachers and school staff. Within History, SBA can serve to motivate students by requiring them to engage in meaningful activities; and for teachers, it can reinforce curriculum aims and good teaching practice, and provide structure and significance to an activity they are in any case involved in on a daily basis, namely assessing their own students.

The SBA component will be a two-task assignment (see below) in the form of a mini-research study related to candidates’ selected elective. Each of the three electives will focus on a specific approach to the study of history (see Chapter 2, section 2.2.2 for details).

While the Compulsory Part aims at equipping students with basic historical knowledge and skills, the Elective Part provides flexibility and encourages them to focus on an aspect of 20th century history relevant to their needs, interests and ability levels. Students are to complete their mini-research studies in a step-by-step manner: designing a topic, collecting relevant data, analysing them, drawing conclusions, and presenting their findings in study reports.

These studies not only reinforce students’ ability to interpret and organise historical sources (skills that can be tested by prevailing examination methods) but also stimulate their interest in historical enquiry, as well as their imagination and empathetic thinking – aspects that cannot be assessed in written examinations.

The two tasks are as follows:

In document History Curriculum and Assessment Guide (Secondary 4 - 6) (Page 58-62)