Taiwan Advanced Subjects Test kicks off with a smile

Thousands of Taiwan high school graduates will take the Advanced Subject Test from July 3 to 5

CP20200703TSAI01 | The cat of President Tsai is pictured on a testing ID for today's Advanced Subjects Test. (Courtesy of President Tsai Ing-wen/LINE)

TAIPEI (The China Post) — “Good morning! Today is the first day of the Advance Subject Test (AST, 指考). Good luck, test takers!” President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) posted to Facebook on Friday, along with a picture of a test ID of her cat Tsai A-Cai.

From July 3 to 5, the College Entrance Examination Center (CEEC, 大學入學考試中心) will be providing Taiwanese high school graduates with the Advanced Subject Test.

The test, like the General Scholastic Ability Test (GSAT, 會考), is an alternative for students who are not satisfied by their GSAT score and strive to do better. Overall, 43,753 high school seniors take the AST, which is about half of the number of seniors this year.

Apart from using the score from the AST or GSAT, colleges also accept the Star Plan (繁星計畫) and, recently, the Special Application (特殊選才). In the Star Plan, top-grades students from each high school receive the privilege to be considered by colleges without the AST or GSAT score.

Whereas in the Special Application, students with exceptional resumes are reviewed by colleges, with lesser regards to their grades.

Taiwan is aiming to transform its application system so that talented students who dedicate their time to a cause other than studying the general curriculum will have the opportunity to attend top-tier universities.

The system is still far from perfect, but the local education system is making progress.