How Brazil's Unified University Entrance Exam (ENEM) Impacts Media Literacy Education

Danilo Venticinque, Andrew Whitworth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article discusses the outcomes of research into the media literacy aspects of ENEM (Exame Nacional do Ensino Médio), Brazil's unified university entrance exam, which contains a significant number of exam questions based on excerpts from newspaper articles, online news and other media sources. Through content analysis, these questions are classified according to the platform (digital or print) and source (traditional media, niche media and government agencies). The results show a strong prevalence of traditional media, either in print or digital platforms, and a tendency to present the government in a positive light, avoiding issues such as the series of protests that took place in Brazil in 2013 and 2014, as well as the impeachment of the president in 2016. The content analysis is followed by the qualitative study of eleven interviews with high school teachers who prepare students for the exam. Their answers suggest that the exam has a profound influence on their teaching and the media consumption habits of students. Teachers also mention regional bias in the exam and a lack of questions that encourage critical thinking. The conclusion is that though the ENEM exam does engage Brazilian high school students with media content, it addresses media literacy at only a functional level, and centralises authority over the interpretation of this content, rather than encouraging students to develop their own authoritative interpretations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)95-112
Number of pages18
JournalThe Journal of Media Literacy Education
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • ENEM
  • Brazil
  • media literacy


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