Why the Chilean school admission exam system is a frigging joke

Recently I posted about the Chilean school admission exams.

I’ll be honest, in my opinion the system here sucks. For the most part, it puts unnecessary pressure on parents and children. For many institutions it’s little more than the abuse of an archaic system; it’s taking advantage of desperate parents for financial gain.

Steve Jobs’ job application form was littered with mistakes and he was one of one of the top tech visionaries of all time. But I bet he’d have failed a Chilean school entrance exam.

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I understand that schools need to be aware of where a child stands in terms of their level of maturity, they need to know if the child has any special needs in order to accommodate them properly and they also need to check their level of English and Spanish comprehension. It’s essential for parents to understand the school’s ideology to ensure that it will fit with their system of values.

But charging excessive fees, demanding that both parents take time off work for multiple rounds of interviews is too much, in my opinion.

Points based exams recognize conformity to a system. It rewards thinking inside the box. This is exactly the mentality we, as parents, want to avoid.

If you’ve read The Little Prince you’ll remember the part he draws a squiggle which he claims is an elephant. Like Steve Jobs, the Little Prince would no doubt fail his admission exam. But if we were his parents we’d be overjoyed with his sense of creativity (the squiggle was an elephant inside a snake…)


I showed my masterpiece to the grown-ups and asked them if my drawing frightened them. They answered: “Why should anyone be frightened by a hat?” My drawing did not represent a hat. It was supposed to be a boa constrictor digesting an elephant.


As expat parents we figured that if we didn’t find the right school for our child, we’d move. Simple as. For other parents without this luxury of mobility it’s a whole lot more stressful. It’s horrible to see parents putting pressure on their kids.

As a mum, I appreciate I’m biased. In my view my kids are the most awesome creatures in the universe. But surely even a third party can see that rejecting my four year old for a school is a little silly.

While we were delighted that our child was accepted to our top choices of school, I thought to share the results from one exam which my son ‘failed’. I won’t publish the name of the supposedly international school in question, but wanted to post the results here in case other parents have received similar feedback.

Fine motor skills 4/4

General motor skills 2/3

Spoken language 2.5/8

Language comprehension 4/8

Mathematical skills 3.5/4.5

Emotional maturity 8.5/10

Now the hilarious thing is that the above was sent from an ‘international’ school. Despite clarifying that my child had only been in Chile a few months and his native tongue was English, it seems the exam wasn’t in English. Or rather they claim it was, but I’d give a million bucks to anyone who could decipher the teacher’s accent.

‘Mummy, she didn’t speak like you’, said my kid to me on the way home, ‘she spoke… wrong’. 

Check my kids’ results and you’ll see that he didn’t have a frigging clue what the teacher was talking about.

I wondered whether to point this out to the school, but I figured it would look like a desperate effort from a desperate mum. And besides, we didn’t feel that this school was a good fit for our child anyway.

But I wanted to share this with you parents so you don’t take any ‘rejection’ personally either.

Maybe your child was having a rough day. Maybe they didn’t sleep well. Or more likely, maybe the exam sucked in the first place and you should ignore that place altogether.

Don’t take it personally fellow mums. One day when your child is running the next Apple Macintosh you’ll be grateful they ‘failed’.



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