HKDSE - Category B: Applied Learning Subjects

Applied learning (or ApL) subjects in HKDSE emphasise candidates’ knowledge, understanding and skills related to the particular industries. The subjects are provided by more than 10 course providers that are approved by the Education Bureau. Each course lasts for 2 years.

ApL subjects have no public exam. The results of the candidates are continuously assessed by the course providers during the period of study. Some of the ApL courses may not be held every year. Some new courses are introduced from time to time while some old courses are closed. Some courses are registered in the Qualifications Register. Candidates completed the courses in 2017 or later will obtain a Qualifications Framework Level 3 certificate.

The results for Category B subjects have 3 possibilities. Their orders from high to low are: "Attained with distinction", "Attained" and "Unattained". The unattained results are not reported on the certificate. Effective from 2018 HKDSE, "Attained with distinction" will be refined into "Attained with distinction (I)" and "Attained with distinction (II)", excluding "Applied Learning Chinese (for non-Chinese speaking students)".

The results of Category B subjects can be compared with Category A subjects as listed below:

Category B: Applied Learning SubjectsCategory A: Senior secondary subjects
DSE exam in 2017 or beforeDSE exam in 2018 or later
Attained with distinction (II)4
Attained with distinctionAttained with distinction (I)3
AttainedAttained2

All ApL subjects are elective and open to school candidates only. Students interested must apply for enrolment through their respective schools. The courses are conducted in two modes that are selected by the schools: 1. conducted at the venues of course providers, usually on Saturdays; 2. conducted in students’ own schools with timetable arranged by the course providers and schools. In special circumstances, private candidates are allowed to enter for Category B subjects with written application, approval from the HKEAA and the support of course providers.


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Area of studiesCategory B: Applied Learning SubjectsExam yearsQFCourse provider
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