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GAT,PAT and central admission - fairest way into university?

GAT,PAT and central admission - fairest way into university?

Assoc Prof Dr Mondhon

As chair of the universityadmission panel for Year 2009, Assoc Prof Dr Mondhon Sanguansermsri talks to Chularat Saengpassa about why

many institutes will want to recruit new students directly and why he advocates the central admission system.

What is the most frequently asked question you have faced lately?

Many universities ask why the central admission system will require General Aptitude Test (GAT) and Professional Aptitude Test (PAT) scores. They also wonder if the weight of PAT scores can increase to about 30 per cent in the admission criteria.

When we've told these institutes that we are going to keep the PAT weight at 10 per cent, they have decided to recruit all their new students directly.

Actually, all universities should be fair to all applicants. They must keep in mind that not all schools have highlyqualified teachers for subjects like French.

We should think about students from rural provinces. We should give them a fair opportunity to compete with urban students for seats at prestigious institutes.

Many science faculties have lately complained about a drop in science scores among their students too. Citing this, they say they are going to hold entrance exams themselves.

But I want these faculties to understand that highly capable science students are now having many interesting alternatives to choose from. They can get scholarships to further their education overseas and may not be interested in enrolling at science faculties.

The problem does not stem from the central admission system alone.


Do you think the newstyle central university admission system, launched three years ago, is a failure?

 No. The system we launched in 2006 was designed to give equal opportunity to all children when it comes to higher education. We want children from rural provinces to have more opportunities. These children don't have access to leading tutorial schools in Bangkok. But they too should be able to continue their education.

That's why the accumulative grade point average has finally accounted for 20 per cent in the admission criteria. However, universities want to get the top of the cream only.


Anyway, we are now aware that children have still sought tutorial classes in their preparations for the Ordinary National Educational Test (Onet) and Advanced National Educational Test (Anet), the main criteria attached to the admission system launched in 2006.

In a bid to solve this problem, we have introduced the GAT and PAT.


Can we get back to the oldstyle entrance exam?

No. I would like to call on all university lecturers to take a look at curriculum used by the Office of Basic Education Commission now so that they know what students have learnt at their schools. These students learn basic science in their classroom. They don't study intensive physics, chemistry, and biology the way students did a decade ago. Onet and Anet by National Institute of Educational Testing Service (NIETS) have reflected this. It explains why there's no specialised exam to test students' knowledge of physics, chemistry and biology separately.


What's the launch of GAT and PAT for?

They are a modified version of Anet, which is more academically intensive. I believe the GAT and PAT will respond more to the universities' needs. A very good thing about GAT and PAT is that each will be held three times a year. Students can sit the tests and use the best scores to apply to the universities of their choice.

This is better than the oldstyle entrance exam, which forced all students to take a onceinalifetime exam. That's too stressful.

I hope universities will use GAT and PAT as criteria in their direct admission system. The universities should care about students from cashstrapped families. These students can't afford to pay a test fee at every institute where they would love to try their luck.

With GAT and PAT, students will need to sit just three tests. For example, a student who wishes to further their education at a science faculty will only need to sit PAT1, PAT2 and GAT1.


How will GAT and PAT win the trust of universities? Currently, many institutes have planned to recruit all new students by direct admission.

 I do my best in a bid to persuade all universities to recognise GAT and PAT scores. Also, I ask all universities to have sympathy for children. If every institute recruited students directly without recognising GAT and PAT, children will have to sit so many exams. Many will also have to take a lot of tutorial courses designed for each institute.

Isn't the direct admission good because it will encourage children to focus their attention on institutes they are really interested in?

It's good as long as each institute will recognise scores from central exams like GAT or PAT. I would like to call on universities to check the results of GAT and PAT before rejecting them outright.

Universities should give an opportunity to NIETS, which has the duty to produce acceptable standardised tests.


Should the direct and quotabased system be scrapped?

I must admit that some universities in provincial areas have provided quotas for children in their region. Their intention is to help local children, who have a poor chance competing with privileged children in Bangkok. So, I think the quotabased system should stay.

I think we shouldn't scrap the directadmission system either. I just hope that universities will give more seats to the central admission system. And in their direct admission system, it should use GAT and PAT as criteria.

Recruiting smart students only is not a perfect answer to the country's education system.

Please give a central admission system where rural children and urban children can compete fairly.

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