What is the Gaokao in China?

CategoriesStudent in China

Each year, China college entrance examination takes place in June based on the best gre prep book, leaving the country engulfed with pressure among the students preparing for the test. The famously known Gaokao gets taken by Chinese scholars who are in their final year of high school. It is the only criterion for admission to Chinese universities.

What Gaokao Entails

Despite it varying in different provinces, the exam comprises of mathematics, Chinese literature, and a foreign language. If scholars choose to specialize in liberal arts in high school, they will be required to undertake tests related to politics, history, and geography.  If they specialize in science, they will take chemistry, biology, and physics tests.

Before or after doing the test, the students usually fill in a form that lists universities they desire to join. Depending on the college, each institution has a minimum intake score, which differs per province. If pupils meet that score, they can get admission. If not, they won’t qualify for that particular college. Thus, they wait to see if they are eligible for another nominated university.

A scholar can fail to meet the requirements of any college. It can be quite frustrating as there have been reported cases of suicide in the past.  The good thing is that Gaokao has no age restriction. Thus, the pupils can redo the university entrance exam preparation to retake the test. An example of such a scenario is the famous grandfather who repeated the exam 14 times. Another example is the 49-year-old man from Sichuan, who took the test 20 times to join his dream university.

How Students and Parents Cope with the University Entrance Exam Preparation

Of course, with such an exam, hard work isn’t the only thing that’s required but also a lot of dedication and mental strength. The last year of high school involves intense preparations whereby scholars do practice tests daily and thorough revisions. Maotanchang High School became known as a cram school after a viral drill-like schedule got revealed to the public. In 2012, the test also underwent scrutiny after images went viral of scholars employing intravenous injections during studying.

Parents are also not left behind during the preparation period of Gaokao. Some resign from their jobs to attend to their kids. Full-time Gaokao caregivers are hired to assist the children. Other parents go to the extent of burning incense and praying to Buddha to grant their kids high scores.

During the Exam

When the actual day for the examination reaches, all necessary measures are taken by the authorities to ensure the students do the test with minimal interference. For instance, the metro stations give the test takers priority. Police and volunteers get deployed to assist in providing directions. In 2014, more than 1,700 curb drivers in Beijing offered free rides to exam-takers. Even though the test has faced criticism because of encouraging a culture of cramming, it still hasn’t lost grip, especially in rural areas. Students from remote regions use the Gaokao as a ticket to the cities and a better future. However, according to the Global Times, the number is reducing slightly due to population reduction. Besides, more alternatives for higher education are accessible to Chinese scholars compared to the past.

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