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47,000 students score zero on university entrance exam

Overall scores for Turkey's university entrance exam were up this year, but the number of students who turned in blank answer sheets nearly doubled over last year

The results of the Student Selection Examination (ÖSS) were announced on Thursday by head of the Student Selection and Placement Center (OSYM) Professor Ünal Yarımağan at the Higher Education Board's (YÖK) headquarters.

A problematic logic question in the social sciences section of the test was canceled, Yarımağan said, so only 239 of the 240 questions were considered in score assessments. Yarımağan said the overall success rate was higher in comparison to previous years, stating: "To a certain extent, our making the questions a little bit easier played a role in this.

However, the main reason was that the candidates were better prepared this year.”

Approximately 1.6 million students took the test. A total of 1,615,360 papers were considered valid for evaluation, with 47,000 scoring zeroes on the test, compared to 25,000 last year. A majority of those who scored no points gave up on the test at the beginning or half-way through.

Twenty-seven students shared the highest score on the test. Professor Yarımağan announced the names of the top performers and showed headshots of some of the best-achievers on a video projector.

Yücel Nalbantoğlu from İstanbul’s Robert College and Ceren Durmaz from İzmir’s Ödemiş Uçaçelik Anatolian High School got the top scores in the quantitative section. These two candidates missed only one of the 180 questions in this section.

Fatih Karataş from Bursa’s Nilüfer High School came in first place in the combined scores category. These were the most successful performers, Yarımağan said.

Serhat Varolgüneş, another top performer on the test, is one of the first test-takers from the Southeast to obtain one of the highest scores in the country. Varolgüneş, from Diyarbakır’s private Middle East High School, said he was proud to be among the highest scorers from his region. “I thought I would make it to the top 100, but it is great to be one of the first-placers,” he said, speaking to journalists in his hometown.

Varolgüneş wants to major in electronic engineering. Yücel Nalbantoğlu and Ceren Durmaz, who scored 300 in the numerical type two, were followed by Zeynep Gökçe Yıldız from the Çanakkale Science High School with 299.709 points.

Hayrullah Mert Şahinkoç, a graduate of the İzmir Science High School, was the top performer in the quantitative, verbal and combined categories. His father, Emin Şahinkoç, said Mert was on holiday in Amsterdam with his mother. “I couldn’t reach them on the mobile so I haven’t yet told him that he is the top rung. However, this was no coincidence. It was something we expected,” he said.

Zero-scorers result of injustices in system

Education professionals’ unions Türk Eğitim-Sen and Eğitim-Sen on Monday released statements blaming the failure of 47,000 students who scored zero on the university exam on the “inequalities in the education system.”

Türk Eğitim-Sen’s Secretary-General İsmail Koncuk and Eğitim Sen Chairman Alaaddin Dinçer released written statements expressing their views of the ÖSS.

Koncuk in his statement highlighted the number of those who scored zero. “This result is an indicator of the impasse our educational system is locked in, and it cannot be blamed solely on the student. At this point, those who scored zero on the exam are not the students, but the educational system, which is managed incorrectly and indecently.”

Koncuk said the education system was not equipped well enough to prepare students for university and expressed his opinion that testing students only with examinations was an outdated way of thinking. Highlighting that forming a system that would save students from rote memorization and is compatible with information technologies and competitive internationally, he said the ÖSS did not do anything other than cause students to “pile up” in front of the gates of universities.

Koncuk demanded that all obstacles that prevented graduates of vocational schools from being employed be removed. He also criticized the government for “not having taken the smallest step” to correct this problem.

He expressed support for recent promises from political parties that the ÖSS would be abolished, but he said ending inequality in education opportunities was a priority. He also accused the current system of turning private classes where children are tutored in preparation for the exam into profit machines for their managers.

“The university admission system has to be rebuilt from scratch. Otherwise the ÖSS will continue to be a hump on the back of the students and parents,” he said.

In a separate statement, Dinçer said only 12 percent of the more than 1.5 million candidates would be placed in universities. Stating that the exam produced more failure than success, he said this was a result of leaving the right to education to the remorseless competition conditions of the market. “For some, the ÖSS this year, like last year, was finished for some even before it was started,” he said.

He said abolishing the ÖSS would be possibly only by introducing a brand new system.

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