HKDSE - Strategies of JUPAS selection and prioritization
The selection and prioritization of JUPAS programmes are to be submitted in 3 stages. The applicants need to compare their estimated HKDSE results in different stages with the admission scores of the programmes in the past years, so as to estimate the opportunity of receiving an offer of each programme. And then reference to the competition ratios and other information of the programmes in order to determine the most appropriate prioritization for receiving the most favourite offers. The 3 stages include:
Personal interest as the first priority
Personal interest is the most critical consideration when selecting the programmes in all stages. You would feel tough and difficult to get good results if you have forced yourself to study a subject that you are not interested. It would be even wrose if you have engaged in a career that you are not interested. You would feel frustrated and hence affecting your career development. If the admission scores of your favourite programmes are too high for you, you should choose the programmes of the similar areas with lower admission scores. Once you have engaged in your favourite career, you would feel easy in the way of your career path. The institute and programme from which you graduated are not important when you are working in society. Interpersonal skills, working attitude, etc. are the most critical elements in development of your career.
Notice the minimum requirements
Meeting the minimum requirements of the programmes is the first criterion of receiving offers. The general minimum requirement of the bachelor degree programmes is 3322+2 or 3322+33, and 22+222 for sub-degree programmes. However, some particular programmes may have minimum requirements that are higher than the general ones in the following ways:
- Higher requirements for the particular HKDSE subjects. For example, the minimum requirement for Global Business Studies of CUHK in 2018 is 4533+33, i.e. higher requirements for all the 4 core subjects. If one of the subjects has been below the requirement, the applicants would lose the chance even though they have got outstanding results in other subjects.
- Specified elective subjects. For example, the Quantitative Finance of HKU in 2018 defines M1/M2 as the specified elective subject in the minimum requirement. If the applicants do not take this subject, they should not choose this programme.
- Requirement in number of elective subjects. Some particular programmes require the applicants to take at least 1 or 2 elective subjects. If the applicants only entered 5 subjects (4 core subjects plus 1 elective subject), they should not choose the programmes requiring 2 elective subjects.
Analysis of the admission scores of past years
The institutions announce the admission scores every year, usually in the form of median and lower quartile. And some institutions disclose only the average values. Comparing your estimated HKDSE results with the admission scores,
- above the median: the chance of receiving an offer is higher. This is not a guarantee of an offer. Other factors must be considered.
- above the lower quartile or average: the chance of receiving an offer is moderate.
- below the lower quartile or average: the chance of receiving an offer is lower.
Scoring scheme and preferred subjects
Every programme uses different ways to calculate the admission scores. Some of the programmes may specify the subjects that must be used to do the calculation. Some subjects have heavier weightings or specified preferred subjects. All there would affect the chance of receiving offers. Some of the programmes specially handle the extended parts of Mathematics (M1/M2). Although officially M1/M2 is an optional part of Mathematics in the core subjects, some of the programmes consider M1/M2 as an independent elective subject to calculate the admission scores.
The principles of selecting subjects for score calculation can be categorized as:
- 4C + 2X or 4C + 1X — the 4 core subjects (Chinese, English, compulsory part of Mathematics and Liberal Studies) must be used to calculate the admission score, in addition to 1 or 2 elective subjects. Some of the programmes may specify the elective subjects.
- Best 5 or Best 6 — use 5 or 6 subjects of the best results to do the calculation. That means that the 4 core subjects may not be necessary to be included in all. Some of the programmes may specify the subjects that must be included. The specified subjects may come from the core subjects or the elective subjects. Although some of the core subjects may not be necessary to be included, the applicants still need to fulfil the minimum requirements in those subjects for chance of offers.
- CE + 3X — Chinese and English must be included in score calculation, and also any other 3 subjects of the best results. The 3 subjects may come from the core or elective subjects. The principle is usually applied to sub-degree programmes.
Subjects with heavier weightings
Some specified subjects are given heavier weightings for some JUPAS programmes. This does not mean that the applicants taking the specified subjects will have advantages. It is because all the applicants taking the same subjects will equally get higher scores. Unless the applicants have confidence in getting outstanding results in the specified subjects, e.g. above median, they can expect higher chance of receiving offers. On the contrary, if the applicants have had no confidence in getting outstanding results or even have not taken the subjects, the chance would be lower.
Some programmes may specify some subjects as preferred. The preferred subjects may be at the same time specified elective subjects or given heavier weightings. Even though the preferred subjects have no heavier weightings, outstanding results in those subjects will lead to higher chance of receiving offers.
The joint institutions may invite the applicants to interviews or tests if necessary. The interviews are mainly arranged in the period from the first round updating to release of HKDSE results. The interviews for some programmes may be before the first round updating or after release of HKDSE results. Better performance in the interviews will of course lead to higher scores and hence higher chance of receiving offers. However, if the applicants add the programme when updating after the interviews have been missed, they will lose the scores of the interview part and hence lower chance of receiving offers. The institutions will usually invite the applicants to interviews if they put the programmes in Band A. The applicants would loss the opportunities of interviews and hence lower scores if they have put the programmes in the Bands other than Band A.
Most of the offers came from Band A in the past years, therefore, it is important to consider the competition ratios of Band A, i.e. the number of applicants in Band A divided by the number of offers from Band A. This is equivalent to the number of applicants competing for one place. Don’t mistakenly think that choosing a programme of lower competition ratio would increase the successful rate. It is because for some of the programmes, low competition ratios are due the extremely high admission scores so that there are less number of applications. On the other hand, it is necessary to evaluate the reference values of the competition ratios in the past years. For example, if the number of places of a programme has been significantly changed, the reference values of the past competition ratios are lower.
During the first round of updating, the applicants do not know the actual competition ratio of each programme for the current year. Until deadline of the first round updating, the institutions and mass media will announce the number of applicants of each programme. These figure will be useful for calculating the actual competitive ratios that can be use as references during the second round of updating. However, there are still some variations because the applicants are impossible to know the actual number of applicants after the second round of updating.
Strategies of programme prioritization
It is important to make sure that the maximum 20 programme choices are of the areas of the greatest interest or close to your own interest. Then prioritize the choices appropriately in the Bands. Bands A and B, i.e. the first 6 choices, must be prioritized carefully. The choices in Bands C to E are used as buffer in which different kinds of programmes should be included, such as degree programmes provided by the new and long-established universities, sub-degree programmes and also the SSSDP programmes. They are beneficial for manoeuvring the programme choices after release of HKDSE results.
Because most of the offers were given to the programme choices in Band A in the past years, the 3 choices in Band A are the most critical. If interviews are required for the chosen programmes, they should be put in Band A before the first round updating in order to flight for the opportunities of interviews. In case the performance of the interviews are not satisfactory, the programmes choices may be moved away from Band A in the next round of updating. The following prioritization of the first 3 choices is recommended:
- A1 (aggressive) — the most favourite programme. Just try even if the chance of receiving offer is fair (e.g. score below the lower quartile) or high competition ratio* (e.g. 10 or more).
- A2 (moderate) — the most or quite favourite programme and higher chance of receiving offer (e.g. score above lower quartile with low competition ratio*, or score above median with high competition ratio*).
- A3 (conservative) — the most or quite favourite programme and the highest chance of receiving offer (e.g. score above median, large number of places, lower competition ratio*).
Although the offers from Band B programmes is much less than that from Band A, there are still a significant portion. Note that some of the programmes have never given offers from Band B or below. Such programmes should not be put in Band B. Instead, choose the programmes that gave offers from the Band B choices in the past one to two years and also with lower Band A competition ratios (e.g. below 12). Prioritization of Band B choices is similar to Band A. The following is a suggestion:
- B4 — quite favourite programme with higher chance of receiving offer (e.g. score above lower quartile).
- B5 — quite favourite programme with higher chance of receiving offer (e.g. score close to median).
- B6 — quite favourite programme with the highest chance of receiving offer (e.g. score above median). The portion of offers from Band B was high in the recent years (e.g. 10% or above).
Bands C to E
There may be two purposes for putting the programmes in Band C to E, totally 14 choices.
- Choose the programmes that gave large amount of offers from Bands C to E, e.g. over 10%, in order to gain offers of those programmes. However, such kind of programmes is rare and may not be your favourite programmes.
- Use Bands C to E as a buffer for keeping the "back-up" programmes. In case the HKDSE results are below your expectation, you may move those back-up programmes to Band A or B during your time slot of updating after release of HKDSE results. This avoids the limitation in number of new programmes added to the choice list during the time-slot of updating. Those "back-up" programmes should be of the highest chance of receiving offers, expected scores above median or even upper quartile, with large number of places and lower competition ratios, and having opportunities of interviews after release of HKDSE results.
Strategies for updating
There are 2 rounds of updating for JUPAS programme choices:
If the applicants are waiting for the results of Rechecking and Remarking (RR) from the HKEAA, they should assume that there will be no upgrade after RR and consider the update using the current HKDSE results, because the RR results will be announced after the Main Round offer results. If the results have been upgraded after RR, the applicants will have one more extra round of updating. Then the applicants may re-consider the programmes using their new HKDSE results.