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Fewer Chinese take US grad-school test at home

By Zhao Xinying (China Daily) Updated: 2014-11-21 07:37

The number of students who took the US Graduate Record Examination in China in the 2013-14 academic year was 7 percent less than it was in the previous year, a new report has revealed.

The GRE is taken by those wishing to study for master's or doctoral degrees at graduate schools in the United States.

Education experts say the main reason for the decline is that more Chinese students are choosing to study at the undergraduate level in the US. In many cases they then take the test there, rather than returning home to take it.

Between July 2013 and June 2014, 44,100 students took the GRE in China, compared with 47,373 in 2012-13, according to the report by Educational Testing Service, the US organization that administers the exam.

Despite the decrease, ETS said the Chinese mainland remains one of the three countries with the highest number of test candidates. The other two are the US, with 336,367, and India, with, 42,098. The number taking the test in India grew by nearly 60 percent in 2013-14.

Fewer Chinese take US grad-school test at home

ETS said the testing volume fluctuates from country to country in line with the level of interest in graduate and business schools, economic performance and general mobility shifts.

Wang Jing, director of the US department at Chivast Education International, an overseas study consultancy in Beijing, said: "Some people may believe the drop in the number taking the GRE reflects a growing unwillingness among Chinese students to pursue postgraduate studies in the US.

"But the truth is, more Chinese students are opting to study in the US at the high school or undergraduate levels. They enter graduate schools directly after taking the GRE there, rather than taking the test back in China.

"I believe the number of Chinese students taking the GRE has not in fact declined."

He said this view is supported by the 2014 Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange.

The report, released annually in the US by the Institute of International Education, said 274,439 students from China were studying in the US in 2013-14, 16.5 percent up from the previous year.

It said while a narrow majority, 42.1 percent, studied at the graduate level, the US continued to experience an upsurge in the number of Chinese undergraduate students, who accounted for 40.3 percent of the total. The figures for the previous academic year were 43.9 percent graduates and 39.8 percent undergraduates.

Wang added: "We can see that the enthusiasm for studying in the US is not slacking off."

Zhang Weiyong, director of the US division of Golden Orient, an overseas study consultancy in Beijing, agreed that the increasing number of Chinese students going to the US earlier is the main factor behind the fall in the number taking the test back home.

However, he believes the wide range of choices available to those wishing to study abroad has also contributed to the decline.

"Apart from traditional options such as Hong Kong, Singapore, the United Kingdom and Australia, a number of emerging destinations in south, north and east European countries are becoming increasingly popular," he said.

zhaoxinying@chinadaily.com.cn

(China Daily 11/21/2014 page5)

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