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English scores low at university entrance exams

Released at: 09:12, 29/07/2016

English scores low at university entrance exams

Photo: Apollo Vietnam

Average mark just 3.22 out of 10 at this year's national exams.

by Tuyet Minh

Ninety per cent of students sitting this year’s national university entrance exams scored 5 out of 10 or less in English when combined with their score in high school graduation exams, according to the Ministry of Education and Training.

The average mark was 3.22. Only 10 per cent scored more than 5 and just 0.28 per cent 9 or higher.

English is a compulsory subject in the national university entrance exams, Deputy Minister of Education and Training Bui Van Ga explained, and many students from ethnic minorities lack the conditions to properly study English at high school, resulting in the low scores.

Many students seeking to study English at university received good marks, he said.

Many sitting the test left the essay section blank and many others received no mark for their efforts at the essay. The structure of the English test was the same as last year, with listening, speaking, reading and writing elements.

Mr. Ga said that many students apparently prioritized the multiple-choice section of the test, as scores were higher on average.

Dr. Do Tuan Minh, Dean of the University of Languages and International Studies, said that this is the second year in which the university entrance exam and the high school graduation exam have been combined. The structure of the English test this year was the same as last year’s, so the poor marks can’t be put down to unfamiliarity with the structure.

Compared with the previous structure, in the last two years the part of the test on word stress and identifying missing words in a sentence was more prominent. Reading skills were also given more focus, with two tests in comprehension compared to one previously.

On the theory side, Dr. Minh believes the changes provide a more comprehensive evaluation of all skills. Nonetheless, he pointed out that the teaching of English in high schools has apparently not kept up with changes in the English test. This may be why scores in the English test were so low.

Few students finished the English test in the allotted 90 minutes, he said.

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