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China’s test-oriented education fails in US

The recent cancelation of Chinese students’ test results by US authorities shows that Chinese test-oriented education system is not succeeding in the United States.

On September 19, Upper Level Secondary School Admission Test (SSAT) results of 357 students, mostly from Beijing and Shanghai, were canceled by the SSAT Board because it thought “there was reasonable basis to question the validity of the test scores” according to an article published by

The cancelation of the test results reflects a huge difference between Chinese and American education system, according to comments published in Chinese media.

Training students in test-taking skills and predicting test questions is a common practice in China and the fundamental reason for this is the test-oriented education system, which has distorted the education eco-system, said.

“While we are shocked by the failure of this common practice with regard to the US, we should take more time to think about which education system matches the meaning and justice of a test, and which one is more helpful in cultivating a healthy education and cultural system,” it said.

“In Western countries, the credibility in academic field is highly regarded. Western countries’ way of ensuring the credibility of academic system is worthy for China to learn from, which will help familiarize the Chinese students with the rules of foreign schools as soon as possible,” Chen Zhiwen, the chief editor of said.

Another reason why many overseas universities are questioning Chinese students’ scores is that many students who receive high scores in the exam end up performing poorly in class, Cao Wen, a professor of Beijing Foreign Studies University, said. “The reason is that the documents of many students were ‘decorated’ by the education agencies, and also with the help of cram schools they attend.”

The evaluation function of the tests in overseas universities is much more important than the selection function, according to Xiong Bingqi, vice president of, and the test result is just one of the evaluation items instead of the only one. What really matters is whether a student’s score matches his or her actual ability.

“The cancelation of Chinese students’ test scores this time is also a warning for the Chinese test system. Test question prediction is rooted in the tradition of evaluating students only through the test score in China. Such kind of test is only a tool of selection, but lacks an effective evaluation function and correct education value,” Xiong remarked.

It is not the first time that the test results of Chinese students who take foreign language exams are canceled. The IELTS exam results of nearly 100 Chinese students were previously canceled in July and September for “unspecified reasons”, according to an article released by on September 30.

(This article is translated and edited by Charmian.)

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