Hong Kong has been regarded as one of the strong examination-driven systems worldwide. Under the current education system, local secondary school students have to sit for the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education Examination (HKDSE) at the end of Grade 12. Although the continuing assessment reform since 2000 tried to reduce the number of high-stakes examinations for secondary school students (from two to one at the end of the six-year secondary education), it remained a high-stakes public examination because the examination results usually have a significant influence on learners’ future pathways, including further education and employment. In respect of the COVID-19 pandemic since 2020, many international public examinations have been tried to be called off, but the Hong Kong government did persist in moving ahead with HKDSE. This aroused criticisms about whether the government has taken students’ well-being as a top priority because the annual survey on DSE students’ stress recorded the highest levels in 2020, 2021 and 2022. In this paper, the positioning and myth of HKDSE and its tie to Confucian philosophy will be examined. Students’ well-being is also discussed regarding rescheduling the examination and the impacts on the mental health of all DSE students, notwithstanding the challenges that can bring to any successful outcomes. It is hoped to urge mental health education and promotion could be carried out systematically to improve its effectiveness. Copyright © 2022 The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG.