Students prepare for exams amid COVID-19 pandemic

June 07, 2021 - 08:00

As the fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic hit the country ahead of many important exams, changes to the format of the tests have been made to ensure the safety of students. 

Minh Phương and Đăng Nguyễn

HÀ NỘI & HCM CITY – As the fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic hit the country ahead of many important exams, changes to the format of the tests have been made to ensure the safety of students. 

In Hà Nôi, more than 90,000 students will take the 10th-grade entrance exam this week. 

The Hà Nội People’s Committee approved postponing the test by two days and to reduce the length of the exams by 15 to 30 minutes depending on the subject. The announcement was made 10 days before the test.

According to the department, the move aims to ensure the safety of students and the changes are based on the COVID-19 situation in Hà Nội.

Nguyễn Thu Hương, a maths teacher of Nguyễn Trường Tộ secondary school, told Việt Nam News that the changes are necessary to guarantee the quality of the test and safety for students and teachers.

“With my subject, the testing time is reduced from 120 to 90 minutes. But it doesn’t affect students much,” Hương said.

“Ninety minutes is enough for students to do and also check their work. So reducing testing time in this situation is proper.”

But for students who will take the exam this Saturday, worries are inevitable.

Nguyễn Minh Ngọc, a student from Lê Quý Đôn secondary school, said: “My classmates and I are all worried about the test.

“The pandemic situation happened so fast that we suddenly had to change to learning online right after the holiday. Even though we have learned online a few times before, it is more challenging for us at this time as we have many trial tests especially in literature.”

“However I think the change is needed, and I will try my best to get a good result,” Ngọc added.

There is also a plan for students who catch the virus or are classified F1 or F2 contacts. Those who catch the virus and those who are F1 will be directly admitted to the public school that they have applied to.

F2 students will be graded based on their previous results to apply for their selected school.

This plan is aiming to ensure equality for students.

Chử Xuân Dũng, deputy head of Hà Nội People’s Committee, said: “The direct recruitment of F1 students will not be counted in each school’s recruitment quota.”

In HCM City, the Department of Education and Training was allowed to postpone the grade 10 entrance examination until further notice.

Teachers and students have to switch to learning online before the exam due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Photo courtesy of Nguyễn Hoàng Yến

The department made the proposal at an emergency meeting on May 30 amid the rapid spread of the disease.

The exam was originally scheduled to take place on June 2 and 3. The HCM City Department of Education and Training had told all officials, teachers, employees and students to make pre-exam daily health declarations.

“The exam couldn’t go as planned due to health safety considerations. When it takes place will depend on the pandemic situation”, Lê Hồng Sơn, director of the municipal Department of Education and Training, said at the meeting.

As many as 2,500 officials, teachers and employees had been tested for COVID-19 before June 2.

According to the municipal Department of Education and Training, more than 83,300 students had registered for the exam.

Nguyễn Xuân Đắc, the principal of Nguyễn Gia Thiều secondary school, said postponing the exam was the right decision.

“Since the beginning of the school year, the school has prepared many plans to be ready to cope with difficult situations caused by the pandemic,” Đắc said

“Online teaching may not convey knowledge like traditional classes, but the teachers try their best to ensure students can understand the basic knowledge and skills of each lesson.”

Since early May, schools up to the high school level in HCM city and other localities have switched to distance learning to protect students, teachers, and school staff from the virus.

Many schools across the city rushed to finish their final exams before May 9, about two weeks earlier than planned, following a direction from the municipal Department of Education and Training.

Vũ Thị Thanh Tâm, an English teacher of Nguyễn Gia Thiều Secondary School, said the final month of the school year is important for students and teachers to review knowledge for the high school entrance exam. 

“During this time, teachers need to prepare lesson plans and review knowledge for students. After three waves of the pandemic, students and teachers are familiar with online learning software,” she said.

“Personally, I have learned from the previous school year so this school year I have prepared sample test questions for students, let students do many exercises and online tests, and encouraged and advised them to maintain a serious study attitude,” she added. 

Mỹ Phương, 15, a student in grade nine said online learning does not affect the quality of exam preparation.

“At first, I was not familiar with the online learning method, but now I am used to it and ready for the upcoming exam,” Phương said.

The city People’s Committee instructed agencies and schools to comply with the Ministry of Education and Training’s COVID-19 protocols while organising the national high school graduation examinations and entrance tests for sixth and 10th grades.

Hand sanitisers and masks should be available at examination venues, as well as devices and personnel to check the body temperature of candidates every day, while venues should be disinfected one day before the examinations start and after they end.

University entrance exam

For 12th graders, the upcoming university exam has yet to be postponed. The exam is expected to take place on July 7 and 8.

Nguyễn Quỳnh Nhi, a 12th-grade student at Việt Đức high school, said: “Because of the pandemic, I have to practise and revise on Zoom or livestream.

“The amount of knowledge that we have to prepare for the test is huge, plus we have to study on the computer all day. So sometimes I get headaches and learning online at home means I cannot concentrate on learning.”

Sharing the same concern, Vương Trung Nam, a student from Tạ Quang Bửu high school, said revising online is tough.

Nam said: “It is difficult for us to absorb knowledge and discuss with our teachers. It mentally affects us because, with the preparation like this, we are not too confident when taking the test so it might affect us when doing it.”

Teachers said at this moment the knowledge is not too important because they have prepared for the test since the beginning of the school year. The most important thing is raising students' confidence and skills.

Nguyễn Hoàng Yến, an English lecturer, said: “Learning online right before the test makes students feel a little bit anxious.

“So we always find ways to raise their learning motivation, not put too much pressure on them.”

“The format of the test doesn’t change much compared to past years. We follow the test format providing by the Department of Education and Training so students can be familiar with the test when they take the exam,” Yến added.

A safe exam is what everyone wants, including anxious students.

Khánh Vi from Kim Liên high school said: “We hope we will do the test at our best. And I hope that there will be no change until the day the test is taken.” VNS