State exams to change


PHOTO: Kristjan Teedema / Postimees

Starting this spring, state examinations will be different. Instead of the current version – one compulsory mother tongue (Estonian or Russian) exam plus 12 elective exams – only three mandatory exams remain: mother tongue (Estonian or Russian), mathematics and one foreign language. For two years already, instead of the former lengthy essay, mother tongue exams have included a shorter essay and a part revealing functional reading ability. In mathematics, changes come the next year, with options offered as a simple and a more complex version.

Regarding foreign languages, German, Russian and French will, from now on, be tested as internationally recognised language level exams, as agreed by Ministry of Education and Research with Russia, France and Germany. As pointed out by Foundation Innove analysts, in charge of state exams, for the first time ever this year saw Russian exams passing the German ones by number of examinees. True, with both the numbers are small, falling between 160 and 180.

The English language exam will continue to be organised by Estonia itself; even so, it will be prepared on the basis of internationally recognised principles.

This will also herald changes to the top lists, for years compiled my media outlets according to state exam results. Also, the new rules mean that all exams will have been passed by all gymnasium graduates; and that the average results will no longer be at the mercy of excellent or poor results of lone students passing rare exams.