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Services to Special Needs Candidates

Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education Examination (HKDSE)

Applications for special examination arrangements are considered by the Committee on Special Needs Candidates (the Committee) and the Task Group on Special Examination Arrangements for Candidates with Specific Learning Disabilities (SLD) (the Task Group) in accordance with the guidelines laid down by the Public Examinations Board.


The HKEAA accepts applications for special examination arrangements (SEAs) from candidates with special needs in September two years before the examination year via their schools (i.e. in September of the S5 school year). Candidates are strongly advised to submit the applications in S5 but those whose conditions of disabilities are unstable may submit applications in September of the S6 school year via their schools. Private candidates should submit applications during the application period in the year preceding the examination.

Applications submitted after the application deadline will normally NOT be accepted. Please refer to the Application Guide for details.

2020 HKDSE Category C Subjects:

The Application Guide for SEAs (applicable to 2020 and 2021 HKDSE Category A Subjects) will be released in late August 2019.

Other Information

  • Information Leaflets
  • 2019 HKDSE Handbook for Candidates (for Category A and Category B Subjects only)
  • Powerpoint Presentations

    Seminars on Applications for SEAs in the 2018/19 school year

    Updates on Services for SEN in Mainstream Education’ in November 2018 (organised by the Department of Rehabilitation Sciences, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University and the Hong Kong Occupational Therapy Association)

    Mainland China-Hong Kong-Macao Forum on Integrated Education for the Visually Impaired’ in October 2018 (organised by the Hong Kong Blind Union and the Chinese University of Hong Kong)

    Sharing session on the Learning and Assessment Support for Secondary Students with Dyslexia in May 2018 (organised by the Education Bureau)

    Seminar on Special Arrangements for Students with AD/HD in Public Examinations and Territory-wide System Assessment (TSA) in May 2018 (organised by the Hong Kong Association For AD/HD)

  • Video

    Video on 2019 HKDSE Procedures in SEN Centres (For Centre Supervisors and invigilators) (Chinese version only)

  • School-based Assessment (SBA)

    Regarding the special arrangements for students with special educational needs in conducting SBA, please visit the SBA section of the HKEAA website.

  • Research Studies
    1. Speech-to-text software (a built-in function in MacBook Air)

      A working group under the Task Group was established to study the feasibility and appropriateness of allowing SLD candidates to use speech-to-text software and / or amanuenses in public examinations. Through the speech-to-text software, an SLD candidate with severe difficulties in writing can answer test / examination questions orally instead of writing down the answers.

      A pilot study on the feasibility and appropriateness of using speech-to-text software in the public examinations was conducted from September 2014 to March 2015. 74 students from 17 selected schools participated in the study. The recommendations of the working group were endorsed by the Task Group on SEAs for Candidates with SLD and the Committee on Special Needs Candidates and approved by the Public Examinations Board for implementation in the HKDSE.

      Starting from the 2017 HKDSE, SLD candidates who have severe difficulties in  writing and fulfilled the prescribed eligibility criteria may apply for using speech-to-text software for answering questions in the Liberal Studies examination.


    2. Study on the provision of processed sound tracks at slower pace in listening components for hearing impaired candidates

      A study on the appropriateness and feasibility of providing processed sound tracks at slower pace for hearing impaired (HI) candidates was conducted from September 2015 to April 2016. 24 HI and 57 control students from 21 secondary schools were invited to attend the relevant listening tests. Results showed that the control group benefited from slower pace in both Chinese Language and English Language listening tests. However, the HI group performed poorly at slower pace than normal pace in the Chinese Language listening tests, and they did not show a significant performance gain at slower pace over the control group in the English Language listening tests. In view of the outcome of the study, the Committee decided that the provision of processed sound tracks at slower pace for HI candidates would not be pursued further.

      Starting from the 2016 HKDSE, HI candidates can be provided with prolonged and/or additional pauses in the Chinese Language and English Language listening components.

    3. Speed test

      Currently, candidates with physical disabilities who request extra time allowance (ETA) are required to take a speed test. Based on the speed test results, recommendations given by the doctor / specialist and school practice, the HKEAA will decide whether ETA is warranted, and if so, the amount of ETA to be given. The design of the speed test has been reviewed and enhanced in 2015.
  • Demo files for the Use of a Screen Reader
  • Electronic Answer Sheet Template for the Use of Speech-to-text Software
  • General Arrangements for Listening Components of Language Subjects at Special Centres
  • Samples of cartoons or complicated pictures with plain text labels / descriptions


    (1) The plain text labels / descriptions only describe the layout of the cartoons or complicated pictures in the text format without giving any interpretation or revealing the underlying meaning of these cartoons or pictures, which would otherwise compromise the assessment objectives of the subjects concerned. 

    (2) Starting from the 2016 HKDSE, candidates with ASD may apply for the provision of plain text labels / descriptions to questions that involve high-level comprehension / interpretation of cartoons or complicated pictures (normally in Liberal Studies, Chinese History and History). 

    (3) The provision of plain text labels / descriptions to questions that involve high level comprehension / interpretation of cartoons or complicated pictures is based on professional judgment with reference to the assessment objectives of the subjects concerned. In order to preserve the secrecy of question papers, in the event that the plain text labels / descriptions are given to the question(s), the candidates concerned will be given a set of special question paper (normally single-sided black and white) in addition to the normal question paper before the start of the examination session. 

  • Samples of special answer sheets
  • Samples of special question papers
  • Question paper in overlay pdf format (only applicable to question-and-answer book)

    How to type/draw on PDF files

    Chi version Eng version
    Sample 1
    Sample 2
  • 2019 HKDSE - Guidelines for Using Ancillary Aids/Equipment (for Centre Supervisors (CS)/invigilators’ use only)

    If a candidate is allowed to use ancillary aids/equipment in the examination, the CS should study the relevant guideline(s) below prior to the examination:

              • Examination Procedures for the 2019 HKDSE Liberal Studies Examination (including the Provision of Speech-to-text Software)

                Liberal Studies

              • AEL support project of Hong Kong Blind Union

                The HKEAA adopts an accessibility design for its public website. However, due to the nature of some of the contents, a number of files are presented in image format, including samples of candidates' performance in the HKDSE. If candidates have difficulty in reading the images, they may contact the Hong Kong Blind Union for support.

                                • Enquiries

                                  Tel. No.: (852)3628 8917




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