Mathematics Exam Now Required for Graduating High School
Students who started upper secondary school this year will be required to take the state mathematics exam at the end of the 12th grade, emphasizing the increased priority the subject is now being given by the Ministry of Education.
A new national curriculum that took effect this year also categorizes mathematics as a standalone branch of study, separating it from subjects like physics, chemistry, geography and biology, which are now categorized as natural sciences.
Of the three state exams that 12th-graders must take to graduate, students had been able to choose the subjects of two or more, while only the Estonian language and literature exam was universally required. Mathematics now becomes the second required exam.
Students who have chosen study programs with an extended math element will now have to complete fourteen courses during their three years of high school, while those with a reduced math element will have eight. Both types of study will require the mathematics exam. By comparison, Estonian language and history each require six courses under the new curicculum, wrote Postimees.
The architect of the new mathematics curriculum was University of Tartu Educational Studies Department lecturer Sirje Pihlap. She said that the mandatory exam idea came from the Ministry of Education and that math teachers were mostly opposed to the idea.
“I believe the ministry enforced a symbolic meaning with the mandatory exam, signaling [mathematics'] importance over other subjects,” said Pihlap.