Victors of Taiwan's Exam System, But Losers in Life: Lee Lu-feng

Victors of Taiwan's Exam System, But Losers in Life: Lee Lu-feng
示意圖 Photo Credit: chia ying Yang @ Flickr CC BY 2.0

What you need to know

Taiwan’s flawed exam system has plagued students for the past 50 years, creating adept test-takers who are afraid of taking risks.

A Taiwanese academic blames Taiwan's longstanding exam system for many of the failures in his life and the lives of many people in the country.

Lee Lu-feng (李律鋒), a postdoctoral researcher in journalism at National Chengchi University (NCCU) in Taipei, says that a “vile” part of the college entrance exam was the "point penalty system" that was dropped in 2011.

In an op-ed in The News Lens (The News Lens International's sister publication), Lee wrote that under the system, if a student answered a question incorrectly, not only was one point deducted for that question, but the total score would also be deducted an additional one or two points. It was designed to deter students, who did not know the answers, from guessing.

The 38-year-old says the system has had an impact on those who studied hard. Students would rather leave questions unanswered if they were not completely sure of the answer because the risk of making an error was too high. This taught students, faced with uncertainty, to not take chances and to avoid accountability.

Lee believes the impact of the system can be seen in the Taiwanese government today. Officials often respond to questions with elusive answers such as, "we will talk about it later" or "we need further discussions." They see leaving an issue "pending" as the safest choice.

Lee says that Taiwanese students still spend most of their time in high school struggling with multiple-choice questions. He does not see the point of being able to solve this type of question. He argues that focusing too much on recalling exact facts and figures has left him unequipped with skills required in the workplace today.

He says the exam system has plagued Taiwanese students for the past 50 years, creating many adept test-takers who are afraid of taking risks. They are the survivors and victors of the exam system, but losers in life, Lee says.

First Editor: Olivia Yang
Second Editor: Edward White


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