Student Selection and Placement System
Student Selection and Placement System (Turkish: Öğrenci Seçme ve Yerleştirme Sistemi, ÖSYS) or Higher Education Examination-Undergraduate Placement Examination (Turkish: Yükseköğretime Geçis Sınavı-Lisans Yerleştirme Sınavı, YGS-LYS), [formerly Student Selection Examination, (Turkish: Öğrenci Seçme Sınavı, ÖSS)], is a standardized test for the admission to higher education in Turkey administered by ÖSYM. Within the Turkish education system, the only way to enter a university is through this exam. 1,692,000 high school graduates took the exam in 2011. It is a multiple choice exam (5 options).
ÖSS was first applied in the late 1960s. Before then each university selected their students via their own criteria. However, with the increasing number of youth and the overloaded applications, the universities gathered and founded "Yüksekögretim Kurulu", the Higher Education Council, and a subdivision named ÖSYM, "Student Selection and Placement Center", which began to operate the central ÖSS, Student Selection Examination.
ÖSS and ÖYS between 1980-1999
In 1980 the number of the exams were increased to two, namely the ÖSS and ÖYS. If a student did not achieve the specified grade in ÖSS, he or she did not have the right to enter ÖYS, and thus, lost his or her chance to be accepted to a university. ÖSS consisted of questions about the ninth grade curriculum, and ÖYS was a test on the tenth and eleventh grade curriculum. ÖSS eliminated the students on the basis of the grade they had received in the exam, and ÖYS placed the students to the universities they wanted. This system continued until 1999 when ÖYS was dropped and the system reverted to the single ÖSS exam, with the same format and same questions.
ÖSS between 1999-2005
The ÖSS exam was a 180 minute exam with 180 questions testing students' analytical thinking and problem-solving abilities, as well as knowledge of the high school curriculum. Each student was expected to answer the entirety of questions, which spanned the following subject areas: mathematics, geometry, physics, chemistry, biology, Turkish language, history, geography and philosophy.
A foreign language exam, the YDS, was conducted a week after the ÖSS. It was composed of foreign language questions in English, French, and German. As in ÖSS, each student solved the questions of the foreign language department they had chosen at high school.
The maximum score that a student could attain on the ÖSS was 380,300 being the student's achievement on the test score, and 80 being a student's high school score based on their GPA, graduation rank, and school's past success on the ÖSS exam.
If a student selected a university department related to their studies at high school (namely applied sciences, social sciences, or foreign languages), their score was multiplied by 0.8. If a student preferred to study at a different department from their high school concentration, their score was multiplied by 0.3.
ÖSS between 2006-2009
Students who took ÖSS in 2006 saw some major changes. The exam now lasted 195 minutes, and had two parts: ÖSS 1 and ÖSS 2. ÖSS 1 has 120 questions on the ninth and tenth grade curriculum. There are 30 Turkish, 30 Math 1, 30 Science 1, 30 Social Sciences 1 questions. Each student has to answer every question regardless of his/her department.
ÖSS 2 is composed of 120 questions out of which students have to answer 60. Students at the social sciences department have to answer the social sciences-2 and literature-social test questions. Students at the applied sciences departments have to answer the applied sciences-2 and mathematics-2 questions. The students at the foreign languages departments have to answer the whole ÖSS 1 and foreign language questions; which are tested separately in another exam named YDS-foreign language exam. The Turkish-Math students must answer the literature-social and mathematics-2 questions.
Beginning in 2010, the exam is now similar to the ÖSS-ÖYS system in terms of topics. Students take the Transition to Higher Education Examination (YGS) in April. Those who pass the YGS are then entitled to take the Undergraduate Placement Examination (LYS), the second-round exam in the new system taking place in June. Students who only take the YGS, in which students have to answer 160 questions (Turkish language (40), maths (40), philosophy (8), geography (12), history (15), religion culture and morality knowledge (5), biology (13), physics (14) and chemistry (13)) in 160 minutes, are able to apply for associate degree programs. There are five LYS sessions whereas the previous university entrance system, the ÖSS, was held once in a year throughout the country.
Results are announced in July and students have to make their university preferences by the first week of August. They are placed in courses according to their scores and this is announced at the end of August.
Criticism of ÖSYS
"Life = 180 minutes?" is a slogan used by TED (Turkish Education Association) in 2005 in order to criticize the ÖSS system for attempting to encompass all the work of a student throughout his or her 12 years of academic life in a 3 hour multiple choice exam. This is arguably unfair; however, the president of the ÖSYM exam board states that "ÖSS is the only available university entrance system until the number of people who apply to universities is lowered."
The most significant reason why ÖSS is being conducted instead of personal interviews is the fact that the total capacity of universities is 450.000 while the number of candidates wanting to study at a college is 1.6 million and is increasing every year.
For a student, the education they receive at school is seen as not enough to succeed in ÖSS. Therefore there is a huge sector in Turkey of private evening and weekend cram schools ("dershane") all around the country. These institutions prepare students solely for exams, including university entrance. All "dershane"s compete with each other in order to create the "champion", the one to score the highest mark in Turkey. The dersane sector is bolstered every year by huge media interest as the results of the exam are disclosed and the students who rank in the top few appear on TV and in the newspapers. In 2011 ÖSYM is taking steps to limit this interest by charging newspapers 150,000 TL (75,000 USD) for the past exam questions, while forbidding television channels other than the state-owned TRT from broadcasting the questions.
Many parents and students (and even the Turkish Minister of Education) oppose this system, but it seems that there will be no changes made until there is a decrease in the number of students applying to the exam, which seems very improbable for the future.
- Milliyet Gazetesi, March 24th 2011
- Milliyet gazestesi, March 24th 2011