China is introducing a college entrance examination next year that will make student enrolments more flexible and beef up middle-school teaching quality.
The new "three-plus" system is aimed at helping colleges select students for different specialisms by enabling them to set their own exams and allowing students to choose more of the exams they sit.
Students will sit examinations in three subjects: Chinese, mathematics and English, plus at least one other subject related to their chosen college course.
The extra subject for students majoring in arts and literature for example could be chosen from politics, history and geography. For students specialising in science it could be selected from chemistry, physics and biology.
Zhou Yuanqing, education vice-minister, said the system will be tested in several regions next year and gradually introduced into all provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities, All this year's 1.08 million college entrance candidates will come under the existing exam system. Thus those aiming for degrees in the arts and literature must take exams in Chinese, mathematics, English, history and politics, while students aiming for science degrees must take exams in Chinese, English, mathematics, physics and chemistry.
Under the current system students failing these exams will not be offered university places.
But the "three-plus" system will give students the opportunity to sit further specialist college-devised exams or exams just in their chosen subjects.