The Vietnamese domestic test for English proficiency is not welcome at home | Rare Techy


With many international English proficiency tests postponed in November, students, especially those in their final year of high school, need results to fast-track their university applications. Major universities such as Vietnam National University HCMC and its member colleges were considering adopting VSTEP, the Vietnamese domestic version of the English Proficiency Test, to admit students.

VSTEP is an English test with four parts: listening, speaking, reading and writing. It aims to assess students’ English level according to the Vietnamese Scale of Language Proficiency published by the Ministry of Education and Science in 2015. The exam was designed by Vietnam National Member University of Languages ​​and International Studies (ULIS). University, Hanoi.

According to Professor Ha Le Kim An, Vice Dean of ULIS, VSTEP is the first systematic test of English proficiency in Vietnam, and 25 universities across the country are authorized to administer and certify the test.

“The structure of VSTEP is no different from international proficiency tests such as IELTS or TOEFL. Therefore, Vietnamese universities can definitely use VSTEP as a tool to fast-track students with language skills for admission,” An said.

VSTEP’s exam fee ranges from VND1.5 to 1.8 million ($60.85 to $73), much lower than IELTS (VND4.6 million).

In 2022, ULIS began admission of students with VSTEP English results, with 21 students admitted to study English language and English education majors.

Outside of ULIS, however, VSTEP is almost non-existent.

According to a survey conducted by VnExpress, ULIS was the only one of 51 universities in Hanoi to accept VSTEP certificates for admission in the 2022 academic year. For graduation requirements, only 28 Hanoi universities accept VSTEP.

Bui Hong Thang, head of the academic training department at HCMC University of Technology, said the school is aiming for international standards, so it encourages students to take international exams and certificates, and then find opportunities abroad.

His colleague at the Banking Academy, Dr. Tran Man Ha said.

A representative of a VSTEP test center observes that most students and families know IELTS and TOEFL well enough that they do not consider the option of other tests.

Phung Man Hui, a grade-12 student at a high school for gifted students in Hanoi, started preparing for the IELTS and SAT at the beginning of grade 11, two years before entering university. He got an 8.0 IELTS score and a 1530 SAT score, which could get him into many top domestic universities while also giving him the opportunity to study abroad.

“I don’t know about VSTEP,” Hugh said. “Also, I want to study abroad, so international tests like IELTS will serve me better.”

Bui Thanh Trung, a student from a rural area in northern Ha Nam province, also chose to study IELTS because of its widespread popularity. “It will help me apply for university exchange programs and many scholarships,” Truong said.

Also, VSTEP test results do not expire compared to the two-year validity of IELTS or TOEFL. This keeps international tests more updated and accurate, according to test-takers.

International Proficiency Tests also help with job applications. “People with IELTS results will find it easier to apply for jobs because of the popularity of the test. Many corporates are not aware of VSTEP,” said a test-preparation expert.

However, nine members of Vietnam National University HCMC have announced plans to include VSTEP in their admissions and education in the near future.

“VSTEP provides more options for students from affluent backgrounds who have no intention of going abroad in the future,” said Pham Tan Ha, vice dean of the University of Social Sciences and Humanities at HCMC.

VSTEP is by no means an easy test if the quality of test examiners and test administration is safe. Also, the universal standard of examination should be improved.

In order for VSTEP to be more widely accepted and used, Kim An suggested that the Ministry of Education could use this test to eliminate English tests in national high school graduation exams. Vietnam should also introduce the test internationally so that institutions in other countries can recognize its validity as an alternative to IELTS or TOEFL, An said.


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