Formerly known as the Scholastic Aptitude Test, the SAT is a standardized test given since 1926 to prospective college entrants. Its score is typically a factor in determining if a candidate is accepted by a college for study.
"Including content from America's founding documents in a revised U.S. college entry exam has drawn attention in China, with worries the materials may impose the American values system on students," New China News Agency, the country's official news channel, said this week.
The SAT will be revised, beginning in 2016, to include questions about the U.S. Constitution, the Declaration of Independence and other early documents, whose underlying philosophies run counter to those of the Chinese Communist Party.
The news agency cited a comment in a Hong Kong newspaper, speculating the new SAT focus on freedom, as expressed in the founding documents, could "change the mindset and world view of an entire generation of Chinese youth. If the new SAT succeeds, it will be the first time America is able to systematically shape the views, beliefs and ideologies of hundreds of thousands of Chinese students every year, not through a popular television show or a politician's speaking tour, but through what the Chinese care about most -- exams."
The comment has provoked Chinese scholars to question the indoctrination of students in Communist ideology, a focus of the party. Chinese students learn Communist "thoughts and morals" as early as the first grade, and a grounding in Marxist and Maoist thought is essential to anyone intending to attend a Chinese university.
"I don't think they have grounds to question what's in the SAT before they cancel all the 'political classes' in Chinese schools," said Renmin University political science professor Zhang Ming in Beijing.