TAIPEI, Taiwan - The national General Scholastic Ability Test, the pivotal two-day exam determining students' university admissions, commenced yesterday, first challenging students on the subjects of Mandarin, mathematics and social studies. English and science are set to be the subjects today.
According to students and faculties alike, the test for Mandarin this year differed drastically from the years before. Faculties said that there's an absence of more traditional questions, which required students to spend time memorizing, as they have been replaced with more evaluative questions that implore students to incorporate practical applications with their Mandarin studies, the Central News Agency reported.
Certain teachers, such as Mandarin instructor Lin Li-Yun of the Affiliated Senior High School of National Taiwan Normal University, claimed that the lack of formulated questioning focusing on 30 selected traditional reading materials could prove exhausting to teaching and learning.
Banqiao High School teacher Guan Ting-sen advised students to realise that the new configuration of Mandarin testing requires consistent investment in extracurricular reading. This year's Scholastic Test questions are an excellent example of the need for students to approach classic literature by enriching knowledge of works outside the core curriculum, because the work of a contemporary author, Nobel Laureate Gao Xingjian, is included along with the work of classic author Tsao Pi, said Guan.
Reportedly, social science, history and geography tests for social studies had also been altered to be more interactive for students.
History questions also replaced traditional memorization questions with those that require more evaluation and critical thinking.
Social studies reportedly incorporated current issues such as the Ebola virus, while geography tests have included other issues such as climate change and the effects of nuclear energy to encourage students to read outside of their studies and to pay more attention to current issues.
While mathematics also included questions phrased using modern lingo and trends, local teachers claimed that the large amount of calculations demanded from students would prove extremely challenging.