Beijing education authorities started soliciting public opinion on Monday over a college entrance examination reform scheme that would downplay the role of English proficiency.
Starting in 2016, points for the English portion of the exam would be reduced from 150 to 100, while the entrance exam's total score would remain at 750, according to the Beijing Education Examinations Authority.
English exams will be offered twice a year, and examinees can take exams multiple times and choose their best score for inclusion in the total score.
Meanwhile, the points for the Chinese subject exam will increase from 150 to 180, and points for either social sciences or natural sciences will rise from 300 to 320.
Education authorities will aim to test students' practical English abilities more effectively, according to the scheme.
In addition, the total English score for the senior high school entrance examination will be reduced from 120 to 100, with 50 points devoted to listening comprehension. The change will also go into effect in 2016.
In the near future, primary school students will not begin learning English before the third grade, according to sources with the Beijing Municipal Commission of Education.
Currently, Beijing students start English the first day they enter primary school.
English has long been the "passport" to success at various levels of examinations, such as the post-graduate entrance exam and public service exam, as well as "the magic key" to a good job, a job promotion, or better pay.