According to statistics from the Ministry of Education and Training, the number of candidates for today and tomorrow has decreased 4.12 percent compared with last year, down to 872,044 candidates from more than 900,000.
Initial figures show that the number of candidates sitting for exams for technology universities amounted to 70 percent of those who had applied. This was slightly higher than in previous years.
And the rate for those who turned up for exams for provincial universities was higher at 80 percent.
However, the big surprise was that the attendance rate for those arriving for tests at universities covering foreign trade, economics and banking-finance fell to a low 50 percent of those who applied. This is seen by some as a reflection on Vietnam's economy.
In the capital city, HCM City, Hai Phong, Da Nang, Vinh, Can Tho and Thai Nguyen, crowds of students were a common scene as parents busily took them to more than 1,000 exam venues.
Many parents took their children to their destinations early because of the threat of rain and flash flooding in places like HCM City.
Meanwhile in Hanoi, home to many universities and colleges, there were no traffic jams on the first day of the exam. However, police were mobilised to direct traffic on major routes leading to test venues, including Cau Giay, Kim Ma, Giang Vo, Nguyen Trai and Nguyen Luong Bang streets.
Voluntary students in green shirts were seen at bus stations and street corners to help direct students.
Food stalls opened earlier than usual to serve the crowds. By 6am, most candidates had arrived at more than 1,000 exam venues.
During the exams, the education ministry will send inspection teams to venues without notice in a new crackdown on cheating.
Candidates for the two exam periods this week and next week will total 1.4 million.