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What’s behind the zero mark in exam papers?

It’s normal to see exam papers with below average (5/10) scores but abnormal to see so many bad marks, analysts say.


On June 18, the Khanh Hoa provincial publicized the exam results of the entrance exam to high schools in the province. In math, 47.6 percent of exam papers got above 5. The figures were 33.6 percent for literature and 25.9 percent for English. As many as 668 exam papers were given zero.




Nguyen Van Hieu, deputy director of the HCMC Education and Training Department, at a conference reviewing the high school entrance exam, reported that 49.62 percent of exam papers got below 5, of which 126 papers got zero.

Hieu said if students receive zero mark, this means that they don’t have even basic knowledge.

The headmaster of a high school in district 3, HCMC, commented that the results of the exam show a truth that students are not as good as thought. Vietnamese parents think their children are excellent, but the exam scores show the opposite.

The real abilities of students can be most exactly reflected in exams, because students at exams cannot rely on support from anyone to solve their questions. Meanwhile, the learningachievements recorded by schools are sometimes ‘virtual’ because the GPA of students, for some reasons, are ‘fabricated’ by teachers.

The real abilities of students can be most exactly reflected in exams, because students at exams cannot rely on support from anyone to solve their questions.

That is why HCMC, in order to select best students for state-owned high schools, resumed the entrance exam mechanism in recent years. Previously, students were selected based on students’ learning records at secondary schools. However, experts pointed out that the records are unreliable.

The decision was released after high schools discovered that many students with excellent learning results for secondary education had very bad results at high school. Some of the students were found not having basic knowledge students needed to have when finishing secondary school.

Nguyen Van Ngai, former deputy director of the HCMC Education and Training Department, admitted the stress and pressure of the high school entrance exam. However, he said this remains the best solution to select the best students at this moment. It will be unfair to select students just based on the learning records at secondary school, while real excellent students may be missed.

A high school teacher in Hanoi commented that the high number of excellent students and the high number of exam papers with below average marks show problems in the teaching method and investments in education.

Regarding the teaching of English, Dang Thanh Huan from Nguyen Du High School in district 10, HCMC, said many schools in HCMC have equipped themselves with modern teaching aids, but the facilities are just for show and are not practical.

Thanh Mai 


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