Education officials on Wednesday said 2021 high-school exams will be delayed yet again following a request from the prime minister, who said students needed more time to prepare.

Twelfth-grade students returned to the classroom in September after 18 months of online learning. Schools were closed in March 2020 due to the pandemic.

Final exams were first planned for late October, but officials pushed the date to early December to allow students more time to study. Officials now say testing will happen in Dec 27.

“MoEYS made a good decision,” said Eng Sokheng, a geography teacher at Beltei International School. “Students and teachers both need time to get ready. At my school, teachers just finished a preparation course for the upcoming exams.”

The delay came as a relief to some students, a headache for others.

Phirum Sonita, a senior at Beltei International School, welcomed the announcement. Her school year finished in July, and even as a strong student, she worried she wasn’t ready for exam day.

“I’m very happy after hearing that news,” she said. “I have more time to study.”

Remote learning had been hard for many students. Unstable internet connections and remote classrooms made even easy lessons difficult. For students still trying to catch up, the extra time could mean the difference between good grades and bad.

“If the exam was held in December, it was going to be hard for me,” said Soe Davy, a 12th-grader at Chea Sim Chamroeun Roth high school. “I’m still not clear on some lessons.”

For those headed overseas to university, however, the delay presented big challenges.

“I’m planning to study abroad after high school,” said Chou Sarvy, another student at Beltei International School. “But MoEYS delayed the exam date again, and the university in China will start in January or February next year.”

Updated Saturday, Nov 6: MoEYS announced the next testing date as Dec 27. The story has been updated.

Correction: The story originally said schools were closed in February 2020. They were closed in March 2020.