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US exam publisher tests Chinese market

By  Wang Zhuoqiong  (China Daily)

10:43, December 17, 2012

A teacher answers questions from students preparing to take the SAT, the US college entrance exam, in Hong Kong.[Pu Feng / for China Daily]

High school graduate Liu Mengze from Jiangsu province went to Hong Kong twice this year - not for leisure but to sit the college admission exams for the United States.

Because there are no test sites on the mainland for such exams, an increasing number of test takers are traveling to Hong Kong, creating booming opportunities for publishers, training agencies and even tourism.

For mainland students, a ticket to undergraduate schools at colleges and universities in the US means expenses of nearly 50,000 yuan ($8,000) on training, 60,000 yuan on applications and 3,000 yuan for each trip to take an exam in Hong Kong.

Many have to take at least two tests to get a better score. If enrolled, it is another 1 million yuan for tuition on average.

"My mom and dad have saved the money for me since I was little," said Liu. "They want me to receive the best education."

As more Chinese parents with higher incomes are willing to pay for their children's college education, the lucrative Chinese market has attracted many international test providers, two well-known examples being the US-oriented TOEFL and UK-designed IELTS.

Years after the SAT, a standardized test for college admissions in the US, was introduced and dominated the college admission exam market in China, another major US test organization, ACT Inc, announced its plans to grab a piece of the pie.

On Friday, ACT joined hands with Chinese company ATA, a domestic test and education service provider, to "address key education and workforce development needs" in China.

Under the framework, ATA will assist ACT to provide tests for international students on the mainland and students for the Global Assessment Certificate Program, a university preparation program for students who do not have English as their first language.

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