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Vietnamese mathematicians oppose multiple-choice questions for exam

The Vietnam Mathematics Institute and experts disagree on the application of the multiple-choice mode for math exams, saying that it will harm education.

A letter to Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam from Prof Phung Ho Hai, Director of the Vietnam Mathematics Institute, has caught public attention.



Prof Phung Ho Hai

Hai has asked to reconsider the application of the multiple-choice mode for math exams. The proposal was made after Duong Minh Anh, a National Assembly Deputy, pointed out problems of the multiple-choice exam.

According to the director of the Vietnam Mathematics Institute, multiple-choice questions on the national high school exam is ‘extremely wrong and harmful to Vietnam’s education’.

The Ministry of Education and Training (MOET), when deciding to apply the multiple-choice model, explained that the model would help prevent students from cribbing.

The Vietnam Mathematics Institute and experts disagree on the application of the multiple-choice mode for math exams, saying that it will harm education.

Hai pointed out that that this will encourage students to copy from each other, not prevent exam cheating.

“The exam fraud at the national high school finals in Ha Giang can prove this. I can say for sure that Ha Giang is not the only province where exam cheating occurs,” Hai said.

The mathematician went on to say that the exam scandals once again show that if Vietnam applies foreign sourced exam models in the country, this will lead to failure.

Many good models, which work well in foreign countries, turn out to be unreasonable in Vietnam. In the education sector, Vietnam fails with the model of enrolling students directly to universities without having to attend exams, and with the high school final exam model.

A university lecturer in Hanoi also said he doesn’t think it will work well in Vietnam, where the learning conditions are different from foreign countries.

“Multiple-choice exams will encourage students to copy from each other,” he said. Students will not have to spend time to solve math questions, and will only need to write the answers on exam papers.

“In many cases, students choose right answers not because they can actually solve the problems, but they have just accidentally chosen the right answer,” he explained.

Nguyen Le Ninh, a Member of Science, Technology, Environment Advisory Council, belonging to the Vietnam Fatherland Front Committee, said the multiple-choice exam mode will not truly assess the abilities of students.

“Multiple-choice exams should not be the model to be applied to all subjects,” he said, adding that for subjects such as math and physics, essay-based or oral exams will be more suitable.

Hai believes that it is necessary to organize seminars to learn from the experience and propose measures for the coming years. 

Mai Lan

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