Surprising stats: mainland SAT takers have jumped 100x in seven years, while takers of China’s national college entrance exam are down by 11%. Source: China Daily
An enlightening article in the China Daily this morning indicates that increasing numbers of Chinese high schoolers are opting out of China’s standard college entrance examination in favor of taking the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT), the exam used by most American colleges as a determinant for admission.
Students and parents alike appear to prefer their chances with universities in the United States, where there are more opportunities to study in "name-brand" universities than in China, where competition is intense and the quality level (and associated perceptions) drop off heavily after the top 10 or 20 schools.
And unlike China’s college entrance system where there are minimum scores required not just for entrance to the school but for individual departments as well, US colleges tend to allow more freedom of choice in majors, expanding the opportunities for students to study what they want, not merely what they can test into.
Some other surprising stats from the article:
— 41% of 3,000 mainland parents surveyed last year by international education company EF plan to send their kids abroad right after high school;
— The number of mainland undergraduates in American universities has more than doubled in the past 2 years;
— In addition to a proliferation of private training centers, an increasing number of public high schools in China are adding SAT training to the curriculum;
— The fact that the SAT test is not offered in the mainland has ushered in a mini SAT test tourism boom for travel agents.
With mainland students’ well-honed study skills, an educational system long fixated on "teaching to the test", and an ever-growing class of wealthy families that can afford the cost of overseas study ( "More than 1 million yuan is the basic," according to a quote in the China Daily article), look for this trend to increase in the future.
Look for this trend to also increase the pace of educational reform in the mainland as officials begin to see more and more of the privileged class heading overseas at earlier and earlier ages.