Sitting exams becomes pet subject for China students

Sitting exams becomes pet subject for China students

Students from the Chinese mainland are known for their rich experience in sitting exams, and Zhao, 17, is no exception.

But what sets this student at the High School Attached to Capital Normal University in Beijing apart from millions of his peers is that he is a veteran of a United States exam, the Scholastic Assessment Test.

Zhao, who only gave his surname, is busy preparing to sit the test - a standardized US college admissions exam - for the fourth time, in December.

Like many Chinese students, he plans to take the SAT a number of times with the expectation of achieving higher scores.

He said he drew up a clear three-year study plan to apply for US universities as early as his first year at high school. "I hope I can study at a prestigious US university, such as the University of Georgia."

Zhao is among a large number of Chinese students who are aiming to study overseas. Passing the SAT is the first step.

The exam, held six times a year outside the US - in January, May, June, October, November and December - is not offered on the mainland and students often travel to Hong Kong or Singapore to take it.

Most of the top US universities require a candidate's SAT score, but there is no limit on the number of times the exam can be taken.

Educators and analysts say the enthusiasm to take the SAT stems mainly from increasing competition among Chinese applicants in recent years, but they fear such students will develop a lack of creativity.

For instance, critical reading in the SAT, which focuses more on independent thinking, puts Chinese students at an obvious disadvantage, said Mu Yanwen, academic director of DK International Education, an overseas study agency in Beijing.

He cites statistics from his research team showing that Chinese students scored 160 points fewer than US students in the reading section. The survey was conducted among more than 5,000 respondents between 2011 and 2013.

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