Launching the capability evaluation model in postgraduate entrance examination at the UEB

Innovating the entrance examinations by personal capability evaluation is a major policy of VNU to strengthen input quality, matching international trends in tertiary education. Approved by the Steering Committee, the UEB Testing Council has launched the model of performance evaluation in postgraduate entrance examination 2011. The pilot action has received initial positive feedback.

The prominence of the new test form
Assessing studying performance and comprehensive knowledge is a very popular test form at all universities around the world. Originated from the idea that university graduate learners need to have more creative reasoning rather than specific knowledge blocks in their minds, the new test form focuses on assessment of students’ thinking capabilities. Thanks to standardization in this direction in all procedures (making test questions, grading…), contestants no longer need to learn by heart like they did before, avoiding copying in exams so that results will better reflect learners’ capabilities. According to Dr. Nguyen Ngoc Thanh, Vice Rector of VNU-UEB: “the biggest difference between traditional exams and the capability-oriented assessment test is that the former was to check knowledge while the tests that UEB has given to contestants in the recent exam round was to assess studying capabilities, logical thinking, reasoning abilities, analytical capabilities and comprehensive knowledge of contestants. That is why the test is comprised of two parts: multiple choice questions (mathematics and linguistics) and composition (analysis of a given topic and reasoning ability)”.
Test form improvement is not only in the preparation of test questions but also in the organizations. Exams can be organized at different places, by various intakes, for many people at the same time. Test results are basis for selection considerations. This test form is supposed to help select qualified people, avoid cheatings and minimize expenditure and time and socio-economic pressure for both organizers and contestants”, says Dr. Nguyen Ngoc Thanh.
Feedback from contestants
This trial exam is for voluntary contestants, results will not be counted officially. However, there have been over 70% of contestants enrolling. All contestants are excited and in favor of this new test form.
Commenting on the new test form, contestant Tran Thi Thanh Xuan, lecturer at the Food Technology College says: “I am excited at doing the test. The test questions are bound to assess logical reasoning and consolidation skills of contestants. This is newer and more interesting form than traditional ones”.
Sharing the same opinion, with the hope of having one more master degree of economics, contestant Ngo Thanh Minh, learner of IT master program, VNU University of Technology and Engineering remarks: “this test can surely assess general reasoning ability of contestants. The multiple choice test of social understanding is adequate for many people, not too inclined towards knowledge learnt by heart but requires thinking”.
When comparing the capability-based exams with knowledge-based ones, contestant Pham Thi Ly says: “In my opinion, this exam form generates more excitement in contestants, arouses thinking without having to learn by heart. I think it should replace the traditional way”.
When being asked about meanings of capability-based test form, contestant Dang Thi Thu Huong, who is working for an Indian representative office emphasizes: “This new test form should be applied broadly, because it helps assess analytical and reasoning ability which is very important for learners in master education”.
In favour of the capability-based test form, contestant Tran Van Van, People’s Committee official of Kinh Mon district, Hai Duong province shares: “this kind of test is easier to do and to prepare for those who have working experience, synthetic skills. It has certain advantages for learners to prepare. It is even easier for those who want to upgrade their level or who are competent. With this kind of test, contestants will be unable to use their paper-based materials”.
Working at Hanoi Socio-economic development research institute, contestant Nguyen Thi Van Huong expressed: “we go to work now, it would be a burden if we have to learn by heart the knowledge in textbooks for each exam. In fact, that knowledge is being used in our daily work. This test form will facilitate us to use consolidated knowledge we have”.
Commenting on features of the test questions, contestant Do Thi Hai Yen, official of Mechanics Research Institute says: “Questions are not too difficult and can facilitate classification of contestants. This test form helps learners to remember longer, while the traditional one only works at the time of testing, learners will forget after the test”.
Supervisors of Education and Training Ministry and representatives of steering committee of VNU for master entrance exam works with master entrance exam council of VNU-UEB.
Trial worked out
As a senior manager experienced in higher education entrance examination, Prof.Dr.Sc. Vu Minh Giang, VNU Vice president said: “VNU has recognized shortcomings of the knowledge-testing exam form for long. Knowledge is important, but what is more important to higher education learners is thinking capability, ability to grab and utilize knowledge. This is more apparent in the booming era of information, when searching tools are too handy. Making human brains into stores of information, it will always be limited, waste and obsolete. Hence, what is necessary in higher education is analytical, thinking skills and abilities to acquire and process information. Not only university entrance exams, they apply this kind of capability assessment in almost all areas for long time around the world. Assessment of capability will minimize shortcomings of knowledge-testing methods and serve better for education objectives and requirements of entrance quality enhancement”.
Remarking on results of piloting tests, Prof. Dr.Sc. Vu Minh Giang emphasized: “This pilot test is one step in processing to the scheme of renovating entrance exam methodology at VNU. Results of this trial will strengthen scientific foundation for the scheme. I am glad that many contestants were voluntary to take trial exam. They were all quite excitedly in favor of the new exam form. Although we will need to wait grades from teachers, the trial was quite successful. Comparison of these results with the old ones will surely provide good conclusions to the scheme”.
Prof. Vu Minh Giang also added that: “learning experience from this trial, in the second intake of master degree entrance exam of 2011, VNU-UEB will have piloting exams of fundamental subjects in the capability assessment way”.


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