English graduation exam no longer compulsory for Vietnamese high schoolers

By Duong Tam   November 29, 2023 | 03:11 pm PT
English graduation exam no longer compulsory for Vietnamese high schoolers
Two students after a test during the high-school graduation exam in HCMC, June 2023. Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Tran
Math and literature will be the only two mandatory subjects for Vietnam’s high school graduation exam in 2025, meaning English will not be compulsory, the education ministry announced Wednesday.

Students will get to take exams on two more subjects of their choice from foreign languages, history, physics, chemistry, biology, geography, economy and law, computing, and technology.

They will take literature tests in essay form and others in multiple choice form, as in recent years.

The national exam, which is usually held in late June, currently includes six subjects: math, literature, a foreign language (which is usually English), and either a combination of three natural science subjects or a combination of three social science subjects.

The Ministry of Education and Training said it came up with the new option after collecting opinions from teachers and education officials on three examination plans.

Plan 1 would include the compulsory subjects of math and literature, while another two subjects could be chosen by students from among the following options: foreign language, history, physics, chemistry, biology, geography, law and economics, computing and technology.

Plan 2 would have math, literature and foreign language as its mandatory subjects, allowing students to choose two more subjects from the above list.

Plan 3 would make math, literature, foreign language and history all compulsory, while two more subjects would be up to students.

The ministry surveyed nearly 130,700 teachers and education officials across the country, and nearly 74% chose Plan 2.

In a later survey about all three plans that included 18,000 teachers and education officials in Ho Chi Minh City, Long An, Tay Ninh, Lang Son and Bac Giang Provinces, 60% chose Plan 1.

The ministry said it wanted to reduce pressure on students and costs on families as the new plans could mean one fewer exam session that needs to be prepared for. As the graduation exam is only held at certain schools in large cities, students in rural areas often must rent rooms to take the exam.

Letting students choose two subjects for themselves will help them focus on their strengths and interests, according to the ministry.

Vietnam’s national high school graduation exam used to comprise four subjects from 1976-1980 period, with math and literature the two compulsory subjects and the optional could be selected in pairs, either physics-chemistry, chemistry-biology, history-geography, or history-foreign language.

The annual high school graduation exam is the largest in Vietnam and is considered the most important. Its results will decide if a student can get into their desired university.

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