Foreign language state exam cancellation may jeopardize studying abroad

Exams. Source: Siim Lõvi/ERR

Students interested in going abroad to study are facing a difficult situation due to foreign language state exams being canceled. Minister of Education and Research Mailis Reps (Center) has claimed that European universities are taking obstacles that have cropped up as a result of the pandemic into account, however according to 12th graders at Tallinn Secondary School of Science, British universities are nonetheless requiring three state exams.

Hanna Kristina Käerdi is interested in majoring in biomedicine and has applied to King's College London. Carmen Meinson wants to study programming at University College London. Over the weekend, the two high school seniors wrote a concerned letter to the minister of education, as Estonia's decision to administer state exams only in mathematics and the Estonian language this school year has cast doubt on their plans to study in the U.K., as the latter requires three state exam results from students, reported ETV news broadcast "Aktuaalne kaamera."

The minister of education has said that European universities have promised to take into account that this year is an exceptional one due to the novel coronavirus.

"We have asked university, British university entrance or admissions committees, and we have been told precisely that they want three state exam results," Käerdi said.

"Number one — they want three exams," Meinson said. "Number two — I likely won't achieve the [necessary] average without English. I know there are quite a lot of high school seniors in my class who are in a similar situation — where English is the one thing with which they hoped to boost their average [score]."

Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, high school seniors had to pass three required state exams in order to graduate high school: in the Estonian language, math, and a foreign language. Foreign language exams have now been replaced with international language exams, which are to be administered June 12-22.

"We are enabling the opportunity to take an international exam, i.e. the Cambridge exam, which by Estonian law is equivalent to a state exam," Reps confirmed.

Both Käerdi and Meinson have already completed this exam, but correspondence with the universities has revealed that they are still expected to take three state exams.

"We would need a separate document converting the points from this international exam to their Estonian state exam result equivalent, because only they are acceptable," Käerdi explained.

"If a separate legal document from the Ministry of Education about this is needed, then I suppose we'll try to draw it up in such a way that it satisfies our young seniors," Reps said.

While state foreign language exams test at the B2 (vantage or upper intermediate) level, both high school seniors have already passed the international language exam at the C1 (effective operational proficiency or advanced) level.


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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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