At fifty, dentist takes a shot at national examination

By Phan Anh   June 25, 2018 | 06:33 pm PT
At fifty, dentist takes a shot at national examination
Nguyen Thi Thanh Van, 50, participates in Vietnam's national high school graduation exams in the central province of Nghe An. Photo by VnExpress
Van has a vocational diploma in medicine, but is not giving up on her college dream.

At 50, Nguyen Thi Thanh Van has done well for herself. The dentist, based in the central province of Nghe An, has settled her children well, too.

Her eldest son is lecturer in a university in Hanoi about to complete his PhD thesis.

The younger one is a research fellow in the UK.

But Van, set to retire in five years, wants to go back in time.

The vocational diploma holder in medicine wants to write her high school exams and go to college.

Van is one of the hundreds of thousands of students nationwide who are sitting for their high school graduation exams.

“When I was young, some circumstances prevented me from going to college,” Van said.

It has not been easy.

In order to get into Vinh Medical University, her school of choice, she had to study Math, Chemistry and Biology as part of the required Natural Sciences module.

“The curricula are so different compared to back in the days".

“The exams have also switched from their written forms to multiple-choice questions. In the beginning, I couldn’t really get used to it,” Van told the Tuoi Tre newsaper.

Given her job, Van has had no choice but to study at night.

She’s asked her children to buy her textbooks and additional study materials.

“I would be retiring in 5 years. I still want to take a shot though.”

Van isn’t the only “old” person participating in this year’s exams.

In Ho Chi Minh City, a 53-year-old nurse with similar aspirations is sitting for her exams.

Vietnam’s national exam requires candidates to undertake mandatory exams in Math and Literature, and make a choice between Natural Sciences, which involve Physics, Chemistry and Biology, and Social Sciences, which are History, Geography and Ethics.

Before 2015, the students had to take a six-subject exam for graduation, and around a month later, an SAT-like placement exam for college.

However, these back-to-back exams were criticized for being costly exercises that exerted too much pressure on the students and their parents. From 2015, the education ministry has combined the two exams into one national high school graduation exam.

This year’s national exam will end on Wednesday.

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