The number of students who scored straight As in the national examination for university admission dropped by around 40 per cent while the number of students who received zeros in English composition jumped by around 10 per cent, according to the results released yesterday.
Out of more than 140,000 students who had taken the 2014 General Scholastic Ability Test (GSAT), 182 took the top combined score of 75 points for the five subjects in the exam, a drop from last year's 295.
The GSAT employs a complex marking system to come up with its final grades. The tests are marked initially by the hundred-mark system, with 100 marks being the top score. To avoid the hundred-mark system distorting the difference of students' ability - such as when a person scoring 84 points would end up in a less desired school than one scoring 85 - the GSAT further weights the initial results into 15 grades. The exact minimal mark need to score the full 15 grade points in a given subject is different year from year based on the results and the total number of exam-takers. Generally the top achievers would have at least scored around 88 in the hundred-mark system in order to get all 15 points.
Meanwhile, 13,493 students got the lowest zero grading point, which is also zero in the hundred-mark system, for their English composition exam, up by 1,242 compared to the previous year.
The lower results do not necessarily mean a drop in student standards, however. Some teachers had suggested that the GSAT English test in 2014 was the hardest in five years. In the composition test, students were asked to select one of two fictional books ("Everyone Is Beautiful: Respect Others & Yourself," and "Leadership Is a Choice: Conquer Your Fears & You Can Be a Leader Too") as make-believe summer reading material and explain their choices.