Perspective: Gaokao Dreaming

Thought you were stressed out about the SATS?  The Chinese college entrance exam (Gaokao) pushes students to study all night for months – sometimes using amino acid I.V. drips to stay awake.  When it’s all over, they cast their study materials out the windows in celebration (scroll down for video). 

Unlike in America, where SAT scores are taken into account alongside essays, extracurricular activities and grades, Chinese universities admit students almost exclusively on their Gaokao score.  Even then, admittance rates are unbelievably low: Chinese universities admit at best 0.5% of applicants (Harvard admitted 5.9% last year). 

Check out this study question from the 2007 test:

National I

“Taking a tumble” (摔了一跤)

An image of a child surrounded by three adults representing Society, Family, and School. The three are       all saying “There’s been an accident” (出事了) Choose a format and a title. 800 characters.

Chinese officials are now reconsidering the test.  While some say it is equalizing – in that it places students from all backgrounds on equal footing, others contend that the test’s emphasis on rote memorization only rewards certain kinds of thinkers. 


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