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In the last article, we have looked at the four domains that will be assessed in Paper 4 and explored the Do’s and Don’ts in the Group Discussion task. After the Group Discussion, the examiner will ask each candidate a follow-up question based on the discussion task. Each candidate will have 1 minute to answer the question.

In Part B Individual Response, candidates may be required to:

  • make suggestions
  • make and justify a choice
  • decide on and explain a course of action
  • argue for or against a position

Tips for success:

  • Listen to the question carefully.
  • If you have difficulty in understanding/ answering the question, you may:
    1. ask the examiner to repeat the question (“I’m sorry. Could you repeat the question, please?”)
    2. ask to be given another question (“I’m afraid I don’t really know how to respond to this question. Could you ask me another question, please?”)

But remember, this is included in the one-minute response time so try not to do so unless you think it is necessary.

  • Start your response with a nice and clear opening.
  • Avoid starting with formulaic (公式化的) expressions like “Thank you for your question” ✘ / “This is a good question” ✘/ “Today, I am going to talk about…” ✘
  • Give comprehensive (詳盡的) responses:
  •     Step 1. state your opinion    Step 2. give reasons to explain why you hold such an opinion    Step 3. expand on (進一步說明) your answers by:               – elaborating it with interesting examples
                   – relating to your personal experience (個人經驗)
  • To end: just say “Thank you” instead of “This is the end of my presentation” ✘

Possible opening phrases for different question types:

Common Question TypePast Paper QuestionPossible Opening Phrases
To make suggestions“What space-saving tips would you give to a person moving to a flat in Hong Kong?””If you were in charge of a kindergarten class, where would you take the children for the day?””If you had the power to make a new rule in your school, what would it be?””What can the Government do to encourage more people to cycle in Hong Kong?”“If I were to…I would…”“To…, I recommend that…”“My suggestion would be to…”“I suggest (verb+ -ing)…”“I would suggest (verb+ -ing)…”Examples:If I were asked to give space-saving tips to a person who’s moving to a flat in Hong Kong, my first suggestion would be…”To encourage more people to cycle in Hong Kong, I recommend that the government take three actions. The first one is…”
To make and justify a choice“Would you prefer a job working alone or working as a team?””Do you prefer indoor camps or outdoor camps?””Which do you spend more time on: your studies or extra-curricular activities?””Would you prefer a school tour that was educational or entertaining?”“If I had to choose between (sth.) and (sth.), I would go for…”“Between the two options/choices given, I believe that (sth.) is better.”“I would definitely prefer (sth.)
to/over (sth.).”
Examples:I would definitely prefer an educational school tour to an entertaining one. My first reason is that…”If I had to choose between working alone and working as a team, I would go for a job that allows me to work alone/as a team…”
To make and justify a choice“Should Form Six students be banned from extra-curricular activities?””Should celebrities be given stricter penalties if they break the law?””Should chewing gum be banned in schools?”“Personally speaking, I believe that…My first reason is that…Another reason is that…”“If you ask me whether….I would definitely say…”“It is obvious/clear that…should/shoud not be…”Examples:Personally speaking, I believe that Form Six students should/should not be banned from extra-curricula activities. The first reason is that…”If you ask me whether celebrities should be given stricter penalties for breaking the law, I would definitely say yes/no.”

Final recommendation:

  1. Make full use of the one minute given.
  2. Maintain appropriate eye contact with the examiner.
  3. Try not to repeat what you have already said in the discussion.
  4. There are no right or wrong answers but candidates who give an irrelevant (不相關的) response would not be awarded a high mark in domain 4 (Ideas & Organisation).

Source: HKDSE English Language Paper 4 Marker’s Comments (2015-2018), HKEAA