Standardized Tests Around The World
Many of us are currently swamped with SAT drills and practice tests, but have you ever wondered what life would be like if you were born in a different part of the world? Would you feel more or less pressure, feel more or less prepared?
A student’s future in South Korea is basically entirely determined by an 8 hour long exam called the Suneung, which tests students on subjects such as mathematics, history, Korean, English, and an additional foreign language. The Suneung is the college entrance exam in South Korea, much like the SAT - except even more important. Students certainly work very hard to do well on this exam, but some have argued that practicing for a standardized test does not prepare students for future careers in their adult life.
Students in the UK go through several rounds of standardized testing before entering university. When children are around 10-11 years old, they take tests which are, coincidentally, also called SATs. But this is only the beginning. When students are 15-16, they take GCSEs, which mark the end of mandatory education in the UK. Students take GCSEs for each subject they take, which include mathematics, science, and English, as well as chosen subjects such as art and humanities. The students must have a grade above C on at least 5 GCSEs before moving on to the next step of education, sixth form and A-levels. A-levels are the grades that give entrance into university, and therefore are arguably the most important standardized tests British students will take. They are based around specific subjects of the students choosing, and are therefore much more in depth as these subjects will likely be what the student pursues in their future career.
China’s “big bad” exam is called the Gaokao, or the NCEE, and is nine hours long - but unlike South Korea, the Gaokao is held over several days. In many regions of China, students must choose a “liberal arts” or “natural sciences” concentration, which they are tested on along with Chinese language, mathematics, and foreign language sections.