A high quality timetable in a school can reduce grievances of the teaching force and enhance teaching quality. This survey aims to understand the scope of the timetabling exercise and the profile of the timetabling process in Hong Kong secondary schools, and to investigate existing problems encountered. The ultimate goal is to have a complete picture of the timetabling exercise so as to provide a basis for suggesting solutions which will improve this exercise. We sent out questionnaires to 480 secondary schools in Hong Kong; 173 schools responded. The result indicates that timetabling in a typical secondary school involves the allocation of an average of 53 teachers to teach subjects of 29 classes in 48 blocked time slots and 38 constrained locations under several constraints. Nearly 80% of the secondary schools used computers to assist the scheduling task. About one-third of the schools used timetabling software to generate their timetables. However, it was found that the use of automated timetabling systems could only complete some 67% of the available slots. The remaining part involves more constraints, and hence timetablers spend much effort in filling the last slots. 40% of users were frustrated by the changing constraints of the timetabling task. The survey results indicated that further research on the automation of the timetabling task is urgently needed. Copyright © 1997 Elsevier.