Thai education authorities refuse to budge as students bow under burden of exams


Students have been pleading with the authorities to reschedule the state university entrance exams as they have been overburdened with homework and online classes due to the Covid-19 outbreak.

The Thai University Central Admission System (TCAS), however, has refused to budge, saying students should be prepared because the date was announced seven months ago. It also advised students to focus more on books and less on protests.

Meanwhile, hashtags like #dek64กำลังถูทิ้ง (2021StudentsToBeLeftBehind) are going viral on social media.

Athapol Anunthavorasakul, a lecturer at Chulalongkorn University’s Education Faculty, agreed with the students, saying they are already too busy with their school-leaving examinations to prepare for entrance exams.

Thai students getting ready to enter university have the following exams to sit over this month and next:

March 15-19: Final school exams on eight basic subjects, plus any additional subjects the student may have taken.

March 20-23: General Aptitude Test (GAT) along with exams on Thai and English as well as a Professional and Academic Aptitude Test (PAT) for admission, in addition to two or three additional tests based on the faculty of choice.

March 27-29: Ordinary National Educational Test (O-Net) on five subjects. Scores on these subjects will influence university admission.

April 3-4: National board exams in at least four or five general subjects. Scores in these subjects are combined with GAT/PAT scores for university admission.

April 10: Additional exams for students applying to the medical or health sciences faculties.

Students applying directly to private universities will be tested between April 6-10.

Generally, school-leaving exams run from mid-February to April. However, due to the outbreak, many schools have delayed the tests to curb infections.

With the date for university entrance exams remaining unchanged, students will be under tremendous pressure, the lecturer said.

He added that getting students to take 25 to 35 exams in less than a month was far too much, especially for students who are already burdened with tonnes of homework due to online classes.

“Adults should listen to their voices which have been rising over the last few months,” he said.

The lecturer also voiced concern about a new wave of infections as 200,000 to 400,000 students have to travel between provinces to sit for exams.

The Education Ministry resolved last year to change the TCAS entrance examination system in 2022 and reduce the number of tests. Under the new system, universities will be told to establish new criteria for admission.