Coronavirus: cancellation and postponement of overseas exams may disrupt HK students’ plans to study abroad

10-Feb-2020 Intellasia | South China Morning Post | 6:02 AM Print This Post

The study abroad plans of hundreds of students could be in limbo as at least four major overseas exams conducted in Hong Kong have been cancelled or postponed amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Exams affected include two international English proficiency tests IELTS and TOEFL, both essential requirements for local students to apply for studying at overseas universities. Most of the tests have been suspended for the first two weeks of February.

The ACT admissions test for US universities, originally scheduled on February 7 and 8, and the SSAT test on February 8 for applying to US boarding schools and high schools have also been cancelled.

ACT said examinees who were registered for February would be rescheduled to the next test in early April at no extra cost.

Henry Wong Yuk-chun, general manager at The Edge Learning Centre, which prepares students for university admissions in the US, said although most top ranking universities in the US had an application deadline by December last year, some kept their applications open till May.

He said students who had not yet taken the ACT test or those who wanted to retake the test for better results could find it difficult to submit their applications on time.

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“The students usually take two to three months to prepare for the test. So, their preparation plans will definitely be disrupted if the test schedule is delayed,” he said.

But Nicole So, education consultant at Litz USA Students Service, said most local students usually took the SAT or ACT exams about one year before applying to US universities.

“Students who are affected by the postponement are more likely to apply to universities in the next year,” she said.

Jacqueline Deley, public affairs officer at the US Consulate general in Hong Kong, hoped the postponement of DSE exams would not affect admissions decisions in most cases at US universities, but advised students to contact the universities directly to confirm that.

The Education Bureau announced on Thursday that the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education exams could be postponed for up to a month amid the outbreak, while the results might also be delayed by at least a week beyond the original date of July 8.

The speaking portion of the English language DSE exams could also be axed, with a decision to be finalised by the bureau in late February.

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Angus Tang Chi-wing, director of HKIES Overseas Education Centre which focuses on applications to universities in Britain, said a delay in the DSE results by a few weeks would “not have a large impact” on students’ plans as the deadline for submitting results to UK universities were in August.

But he added that the cancellation of the oral portion of the DSE English exams might create problems for some as a few universities accepted the results as a proof of English language proficiency.

The Hong Kong Examinations and Assessment Authority said it had been closely monitoring the situation and would work closely with the bureau and the Department of Health to decide whether more overseas exams needed to be rescheduled or cancelled.

Meanwhile, competitions involving live performances of the 72nd Hong Kong Schools Music Festival, set to take place between February 24 and March 25, have also been cancelled. The organiser said the refunding arrangements for the entry fee would be announced in March.

The UK-based ABRSM’s music theory exam, scheduled for February 8 in Hong Kong, has also been cancelled.

Separately, classes in Hong Kong’s schools have been suspended until at least March 2. Secretary for Education Kevin Yeung Yun-hung said on Friday the Education Bureau would consider whether about 25,000 cross-border pupils from the mainland studying at local primary and secondary schools could stay at home and attend classes online when schools resume, to avoid facing quarantine for two weeks if they returned to Hong Kong.


Category: Hong Kong

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