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Selectividad: The changes to high school exams in Spain

The Local Spain
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Selectividad: The changes to high school exams in Spain
Spain's new university entrance exams. Photo: Bertrand GUAY / AFP

Back in March 2023, the Spanish government announced that it would create a series of new university entrance exams known as EBAU or Selectividad. Here's what we know so far about when they'll come into force and what will change.

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In March, the Ministry of Education carried out a series of pilot tests across the country to ascertain how effective the new exams for high school students would be. 

It was expected that they would come into force for the 2024 school year, but recently the Ministry of Education and Vocational Training announced that the the reform of university entrance tests will be postponed. 

The changes to the EBAU are expected to come into force in 2025. This postponement is due to the legal reports requested by the Ministry of Education, headed up by Pilar Alegría.

"This decision is due to the fact that the approval would exceed the powers of an acting government, generating confrontation with the autonomous regions,” the Ministry of Education said in a statement.

“This delay will also reduce the amount of uncertainty for teachers, students, and families”, it added.  

READ ALSO: How Spain is changing its ESO secondary education system

How will the new exams be different? 

Some of the changes planned in the new exams are more time to take them and modifications of the review rules.

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More time for exams

With the new university entrance tests, students will have more time to take each exam. Until now they had 90 minutes, however, with the new ones, an extra 15 minutes will be added, taking it to a total of 105 minutes. 

A choice between history and philosophy

When the new changes come into force, students will be able to choose between an exam on the history of Spain or the history of philosophy, giving them a greater choice on what they may want to study in the future. 

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The exercises will be more comprehensive

The exam questions will also be more comprehensive and students will have to think more critically. There will be fewer questions where they’ll simply have to memorise an answer and write it down word-for-word. For this reason, there will be fewer multiple-choice or fill-in-the-gap questions too. 

Exam reviews may be requested

Another of the changes proposed in the new draft is that students will have the right to a third revision of the exams if they do not agree with the first two corrections. If the student disagrees with the grade obtained for an exercise, up until now they could only request a second review.

The changes to the Spanish secondary school education system began in September 2022, when the government announced several changes such as encouraging critical thinking and reasoning over learning by rote, which has been popular in Spain in the past.  

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