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Take a closer look at Gaokao

Popularity 1Viewed 556 times 2018-7-5 20:39 |System category:News

Recently, the results the college admission test, Gaokao, of China has released, and the western medias have left quite a few comments on this annual test. The economist remarks that the test is “notoriously tough” and requires “undistracted preparation.” The Newyoker is surprised at the scene where parents streaming into the vermillion gates of the temples, burning incense and praying for good scores. Why is Gaokao so that difficult and important? Aren’t Sat and CIE challenging as well?

 

When you ask Chinese people why they place so much pressure on a single test, the answer is likely to be “fairness.” “Test is the only way to keep it fair,” said a person whose children is taking Gaokao next year, “Otherwise, all of the good schools would be filled entirely by people with connections.” That makes a good point. Before 1978, China was experiencing cultural revolution in which there was not any exam and college students were selected by the officials of the government, so one could not get to college unless he or she has a relative in the government. Up until now people still believed standardized examinations are the only fair way to select students.

 

With the development of China, more and more youth intend to get a degree. In 2018, there were more than 9 million test takers. In contrast to the astonishing numbers of test takers, there are only few good universities in China including Peking University and Tsinghua University. Many students believe that the only way to success is to get into one of these universities. Last year, 1.5 million of the 9 million test takers were repeat examinees. Many of them were sitting it again not because they have failed, but because they wanted another shot at getting into one of the best china universities. Such contradiction brings high pressure for every student; some of them even commit suicide due to the immense pressure.

 

Right now, the government is trying to figure out ways to reduce the stress. One ways is to make the test easier. The top score in Beijing is 730 out of 750 this year compared to 700 out of 750 last year (roughly). However, there is still intensive competition between students as everyone’s score is rising. Another way is to replace number grades with letter grades. In Zhejiang province, students are required to take Chinese, Math, and English, which is recorded in number scores, and they can also select two subjects which is measured by letter grade, but such practice may generate ambiguity and undermine the principle of fairness.

 

Due to the intense competition, Gaokao is regarded as a difficult test. Is Gaokao truly more difficult than SATs and CIEs? How can we reduce the pressure of Chinese students? I hope to hear your ideas!

(Opinions of the writer in this blog don't represent those of China Daily.)


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Reply Report SEARU 2018-7-6 20:25
This is only phenomenon in appearance! But what is the bottom reason why China is poor on education? We must have a detailed analysis on what is going on inside class and out of school and what differs from our foreign counterparts!  We can not play 'soccer' well without learning from experience aboard!
Reply Report Songlunchen 2018-7-10 19:52
SEARU: This is only phenomenon in appearance! But what is the bottom reason why China is poor on education? We must have a detailed analysis on what is going ...
First, thank you for your comments! However, I  do not think China has a "poor education." Since 1998, the total number of Chinese Universities ranking top 200 in New York Times have shown a steady increase. Even though Gaokao may  sound unexciting, we cannot deny that Chinese education is improving rapidly.
Reply Report SEARU 2018-7-10 20:48
Songlunchen: First, thank you for your comments! However, I  do not think China has a "poor education." Since 1998, the total number of Chinese Universit ...
Thanks for your reply. I have written many articles on education through which you would fully understand what I mean.

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    • Take a closer look at Gaokao 2018-7-10 20:48

      Songlunchen: First, thank you for your comments! However, I  do not think China has a "poor education." Since 1998, the total number of Chinese Universit ...
      Thanks for your reply. I have written many articles on education through which you would fully understand what I mean.

    • Take a closer look at Gaokao 2018-7-10 19:52

      SEARU: This is only phenomenon in appearance! But what is the bottom reason why China is poor on education? We must have a detailed analysis on what is going ...
      First, thank you for your comments! However, I  do not think China has a "poor education." Since 1998, the total number of Chinese Universities ranking top 200 in New York Times have shown a steady increase. Even though Gaokao may  sound unexciting, we cannot deny that Chinese education is improving rapidly.

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