Under-examination of the notion of competition between schools has created a considerable asymmetry between the reality and the literature of schooling. Therefore, this study investigates the validity of school competition and verifies the propositions regarding the effects of school marketing practices in literature, particularly DSS and aided schools in Hong Kong. It tests the relationships between student intake and school academic performance and school marketing practices. It also compares the pattern of the relationships between the Direct Subsidy Scheme (DSS) and aided secondary schools. Secondary data from 441 secondary schools were retrieved from a popular secondary school admission magazine in Hong Kong and from the schools’ websites. Hierarchical regression analysis revealed that the school’s academic performance was positively related to discretionary student intake. In addition, marketing school academic performance, but not marketing school features, was positively related to student intake. Lastly, it was found that marketing school academic performance intensified the relationship between the school’s academic performance and student intake in aided schools but not in DSS schools. The results were interpreted as demonstrating that school competition in Hong Kong is a battle of lifting academic performance. Copyright © 2019 Emerald Group Publishing Limited.