More than 100,000 Cambodian high school students began taking final exams on Monday that could determine their future.
At the end of the first day of administering the tests, Cambodian Education Minister Hang Choun Naron told reporters that there were 117,061 applicants registered this year, up from 103,112 last year, although that about 1,700 students were absent.
The number of examination centers has also increased, from 150 in 2014 to 196 in 2018, he said.
This is the fifth year of the exam after the complete overhaul of the high school exit exams under the leadership of Choun Naron, who was appointed reformist Minister of Education after the 2013 national elections.
Previously, the exam was rife with cheating, as supervisors often looked away or accepted bribes to allow students to use crib sheets. From 2014, however, security has been stepped up to ensure that only serious students can pass.
That year, about 70 percent of high school students failed the test. But last year, around two-thirds of students managed to pass, as high school students apparently got used to taking the tests without cheating.
In interviews with VOA Khmer on Monday, two candidates expressed optimism after completing the morning exam session.
Meas Chanthan, a student at Russian Keo High School, said she could answer the test questions, but the atmosphere in the exam room was tense.
“The guards watched us all the time. They came and went. I couldn’t even move.
Reaksmey Darath, also from Russian Keo High School, said she feels confident.
“When I walked in, I didn’t feel like praying because like I told you, I could answer questions. I can say that is what I have already learned.
The two-day exam will conclude on Tuesday evening and the results will be released in September.