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Marking & Grading
The results of candidates in individual subjects were recorded in six grades (A to F). Achievements below grade F were designated as “unclassified” and were not reported on the certificate.

The same marking scheme and grading standard were used for the question papers of the English and Chinese versions for subjects offering bilingual versions. The language used by the candidate in the examination was not printed on the certificate.

Large-entry subjects
The grading of large-entry subjects was based on the performance of a control group of schools. The control group comprised schools with satisfactory performance and relatively stable examination results over the past few years. It represented about one third of the participating schools. The main assumption of the control-group approach was that the performance of the control-group schools, taken as a whole, was stable between years and was able to provide a reasonable norm for setting grading policies. This methodology had the merit of enabling the HKEAA to maintain between-year standards even if the difficulty of examination papers varied between years; or there was a change in the examination syllabus.

Grading policies based on control-group percentages were set annually for grades A, C and E for each subject. Based on the policy and the mark distribution of the control group, the minimum mark for grades A, C and E were determined. The minimum marks for the other grades were worked out based on a statistical algorithm.

The cutting scores, once determined, were applicable to the whole candidature regardless of the district where the candidates took the examination, the schools they came from, or whether they were private candidates.

HKALE language subjects were graded by the Chief Examiners. The grading was based largely on candidates’ performance in the examination and other relevant statistics.

Small-entry subjects
For the small-entry subjects, the grading was mainly based on Chief Examiners’ recommendations.
Vetting of standards
To safeguard the grading standards of HKALE, Cambridge Assessment was invited to vet the grading standards of different HKALE subjects every year.