At the Hanoi University of Science and Technology testing centre, candidate Nguyen Tuan Dat, of Hanoi's Hai Ba Trung High School, said, "I'm still a little bit nervous even though I already know about all the exam procedures."
The Ministry of Education and Training organised a rollout of the exam over four days, from July 1 to 4, and instituted a massive change for the first time. This year, students will take only one national exam instead of separate high school graduation and university entrance exams.
Exam results will be a consideration in both high school graduation and university admissions.
Students will be tested in four subjects, three of which are compulsory subjects of mathematics, literature and a foreign language. The fourth is an optional subject- students can choose from physics, chemistry, biology, history and geography.
The students are allowed to take extra tests in other subjects for better chances of getting admission to the university or college of their choice.
Students have three hours to write well-composed answers in the mathematics, literature, history and geography tests. There will be 90-minute multiple-choice tests for physics, chemistry, biology and foreign languages.
Preparation in localities
The education ministry's inspection teams visited localities in the countryside to check preparations. The reports were positive, saying localities carefully prepared for the exam.
Inspectors said they actively arranged accommodation and means of transport as well as created favourable conditions for a smooth exam experience.
A huge force of university volunteers, estimated over 60,000, were present at testing centres, bus stations and in surrounding streets to help candidates get to their exam centres.
Ho Xuan Luong, of Ha Nam Province, brought his daughter to the Hanoi University of Culture's testing centre for the exam. He said that he worried he would not know how to find the school, but university volunteers took him and his daughter to the school for free.
In HCM City, Nguyen Duc Thuan, head of a university volunteer team at Le Hong Phong High School's testing centre, said that the team had reserved 50 rooms at cheap prices near the testing centre for candidates.
Quach Dat Hai, director of HCM City's Student Assistance Centre, said that the centre arranged 10,000 rooms, 60,000 meals, 2,000 noodle packages and 200,000 city maps to give to candidates for free.
In Ha Giang Province, ethnic-minority candidates testing at Tan Trao University's centre each received financial support of VND1.1 million (US$50) for meals, accommodation and travel.
In Gia Lai Province, traffic police are present to ensure smooth traffic flows during the exam period.
Provincial authorities ordered owners of hostels, hotels, room rentals, restaurants and food courts to refrain from increasing prices during the exam.
Colonel Phan Thanh Tam, head of the Pleiku City's Police, said that 300 police would be on duty day and night until the exam ended to ensure security.
The latest update from the National Centre for Hydro-Meteorological Forecasting warned that candidates in northern and central regions could suffer from extreme hot weather during the four days.
The highest temperatures forecast are 40 degrees Celsius at 1-3pm in Hanoi, and 39 degrees Celsius in Danang.
The weather is expected to be more pleasant in central highlands and southern regions. The highest temperatures forecast is 33 in central highlands and 35 down south.
In HCM City, the daily temperature will likely range from 30 to 35 degrees Celsius with showers at night.