Senior high school and the Basic Competency Test
Senior high school education prepares 15 to 18 year olds for the Joint University Entrance Exam (JUEE). Children are also encouraged to participate in a wide range of extra-curricular activities; doing so will help them with university admission. Students are also required to do a military education class where they learn about national defence, military drills, civil defence and basic firearms training.
Entrance to senior high schools has traditionally been based on a child’s scores in the Basic Competency Test (BCT), which is taken at the end of junior high school. The score achieved determines which senior high school a child is eligible to attend. Separate exams are taken by children wishing to attend a vocational school. There is currently a move to change the entrance procedure to a more varied approach, including recommendations from teachers and a child’s performance throughout junior high school. At the moment the examination remains very important, with many children attending special cramming classes to improve their chances. Many schools offer extra, examination-oriented classes at times outside the standard school day and in the school holidays.
The BCT covers five subjects: Chinese, English, social science, mathematics and natural science. The examination includes a series of multiple-choice questions and each student is awarded an overall mark out of 300.