The quantitative test a must for Policy Analysis applicants


Fulbright School of Public Policy and Management (FSPPM)’s Master in Public Policy (MPP) program is the first and the only full-time program in Vietnam that offers a distinctive American-standard approach to learning.Students of the MPP program can choose between two concentrations: Policy Analysis and Leadership and Management.

Policy Analysis applicants are required to complete the application form, take the entrance exam and conduct personal interviews. Leadership & Management applicants only need to complete the application form and the personal interviews. Applicants for either concentration must satisfy English proficiency requirements.

After passing the online application round, Policy Analysis applicants take a multiple choice “Quantitative Test” that replicates the GRE, a common standardized test for graduate education in U.S.

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According to Assoc. Prof. Pham Duy Nghia, FSPPM Director, the focus of the test is not to measure the breadth of knowledge of prospective applicants. The knowledge required is at the level of secondary education. Those who correctly answer 50 percent of the test questions are then shortlisted for the personal interviews – the final round of the application process for the MPP program.

“MPP students, particularly in Policy Analysis concentration, are expected to master quantitative skills to quantify effects of different policies. As a result, learners should secure a basic understanding of quantitative skills in order to catch up with others in quantitative courses. Indeed, many MPP students perform outstandingly despite not graduating from math majors. Fulbright courses are designed to let students work on their critical and analytical skills, rather than focusing solely on math-intensive sections,”he explained.

Nguyen Thi Thien Trang, a student of MPP21 class’ Policy Analysis concentration, said the quantitative test is challenging not because of its difficulty level but because of the pressure caused by the high number of questions and short time constraints. With only 60 minutes and a multitude of questions, this race against time requires test takers to be quick thinkers.

MPP students said the questions are quite simple for anyone to answer if they can take their time. But with on average one minute per question, the test examines students thinking capabilities, reasoning abilities and performance under pressure.

Most of the students who took the test view it positively as they consider it a worthwhile experience. For those with solid STEM foundations, it is not too challenging. However, it requires quick, decisive and flexible thinking.

Tran Quang, a student of MMP21 class’ Policy Analysis concentration, said the quantitative test was the reason he chose to apply to FSPPM.

“This test is appealing to me more than those that require me to write several pages, like the philosophy test. It tests candidates’ thinking capacities in fields that are quite familiar for someone graduating from math major like me. It can be hard to get high scores for this test given the time pressure, but it is quite possible to get 50 percent of the right answers,” he said.

Before every new school year, FSPPM publishes specific instructions for the quantitative test. Sample tests are publicized for applicants to practice. It is highly recommended that applicants read the sample questions carefully so that they will be well-prepared when entering the exam room.

Most applicants also invest a lot of time to research the quantitative and reasoning tests based on the GRE, as good preparation helps secure better scores.

The result of the quantitative test does not only serve as a requirement for the next interview round but also as a criterion to select Policy Analysis students. A student is chosen based on four criteria: the quantitative test, a personal essay, the proceedings of the personal interview and their potential to contribute to society.

Applicants for both Policy Analysis and Leadership & Managements concentrations are also required to take an English proficiency test if they cannot produce English language certifications granted by verified English training organizations. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, FSPPM organized a joint English test for both concentrations this year.

English proficiency is compulsory for MPP applicants because during their time at FSPPM, MPP students will work with original and modified documents mostly written in English. Moreover, a number of visiting professors from other countries frequently join to lecture for the MPP program, a unique chance for our students to discuss, question, and share ideas.

Xuan Linh

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