Gaokao: China's National College Entrance Exam


bd popeye

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I find the importance placed on gaokao in China over the top. Utterly fascinating. Have any of our forum members taken gaokao? If so please describe the process that took place. thanks.

I don't even remember the full gambit of taking the SAT over 45 years ago. I must have done well I got a full boat scholarship to The Ohio State University. Which I did not use. I joined the USN instead.

As his thread develops I'll post photos & articles etc about gaokao.

For those of you that don't know..

This is a western link however it was one of the better ones I've found.

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In China, applying to college is about one thing and one thing only: the gaokao. Gaokao (高考) is short for 普通高等学校招生全国统一考试 (“The National Higher Education Entrance Examination”) and a student’s score on this all-important standardized test is pretty much the only thing that matters when it comes to determining whether or not they can go to college -- and if they can, what schools they can attend.

What doe the gaokao test and when is it held?

The gaokao is held once annually at the end of the school year. Third-year high school students (high school in China lasts three years) generally take the test, although anyone may register for it if they desire to. In generally lasts two or three days. The subjects it tests vary by region, but in many regions it includes:

Chinese language and literature
Mathematics
A foreign language (often English)
One or more subjects of the student’s choice, depending on their preferred major in college (for example Social Studies/Politics, Physics, History, Biology, or Chemistry)
At some point (it varies by region) students are also asked to list the colleges and universities they prefer in several tiers, and ultimately whether they are accepted or rejected will be determined based on their score. Because of this, students who fail the test and thus cannot attend college will sometimes spend another year studying and re-take the test the following year.

What is it like?

As you might imagine, preparing for and taking the gaokao is a grueling ordeal, and students are under huge amounts of pressure from their parents and teachers to do well. The final year of high school, especially, is often focused intensely on preparation for the exam, and it isn’t unheard of for parents to go so far as quitting their own jobs to help their children study during this year. This pressure has even been linked to some cases of depression and suicide amongst Chinese teens, especially those who perform poorly on the exam.

The test is especially famous for its sometimes-inscrutable essay prompts, which can be vague or confusing but to which students must respond well if they hope to achieve a good score. After the test is over, local essay questions are often published in the newspaper, and occasionally become hotly-debated topics.

Because the exam is so important, Chinese society goes to great lengths to facilitate life for the test-takers on testing days. Areas around testing sites are often marked as quiet zones, and nearby construction and even traffic is sometimes halted while students are taking the test to prevent distractions. Police officers, taxi drivers, and other car owners also will often ferry students they see walking the streets to their exam locations for free, to ensure that they are not late for this all-important occasion.

Cheating and bias

Probably needless to say, because the gaokao is so vitally important, there are always students willing to attempt cheating on it, and with modern technology cheating has become a veritable arms race between students, the authorities, and enterprising merchants who offer everything from false erasers and rulers to tiny headsets and cameras connected to off-site helpers using the internet to scan questions and feed you answers. Authorities now often outfit test sites with a variety of signal-blocking electronic devices, but cheating devices of various sorts are still readily available to those foolish or unprepared enough to attempt using them.

The gaokao system has also been accused of regional bias, primarily because schools often set quotas for the number of students they will take from each province, and students from their home province have more available spaces than students from remote provinces. Since the best schools, both high schools and colleges, are mostly in cities like Beijing and Shanghai, this effectively means that students lucky enough to live in those areas are better-prepared to take the gaokao and are able to enter China’s top universities with a lower score than would be needed by students from other provinces. For example, a student from Beijing might be able to get into Tsinghua University (which is located in Beijing and is former president Hu Jintao’s alma mater) with a lower gaokao score than would be necessary for a student from Inner Mongolia.

Another factor is that because each province administers its own version of the gaokao, the test is sometimes demonstrably harder in some areas than others.
 

siegecrossbow

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I find the importance placed on gaokao in China over the top. Utterly fascinating. Have any of our forum members taken gaokao? If so please describe the process that took place. thanks.

I don't even remember the full gambit of taking the SAT over 45 years ago. I must have done well I got a full boat scholarship to The Ohio State University. Which I did not use. I joined the USN instead.

As his thread develops I'll post photos & articles etc about gaokao.

For those of you that don't know..

This is a western link however it was one of the better ones I've found.

Please, Log in or Register to view URLs content!
In a sense, it is almost reminiscent of the Imperial Entrance Exams. Luckily I didn't have to deal with it since I came to the states when I was nine.
 

bd popeye

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Thanks siegecrossbow!

The photos are starting to roll in..


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LU'AN, June 5, 2016 (Xinhua) -- Parents and local residents see off G12 students of Maotanchang High School (including Jin'an High School) in Maotanchang Town of Lu'an City, east China's Anhui Province, June 5, 2016. A total of 19 shuttle buses carring nearly 1,000 students set off here to examination venues in Lu'an City, for the upcoming national college entrance exam, or "gaokao", on Sunday. (Xinhua/Guo Chen)
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A student gives her classmate a hug at Maotanchang High School in Maotanchang town of Lu'an city, East China's Anhui province, June 4, 2016. Nearly 20,000 students of Maotanchang High School (including Jin'an High School) will take part in this year's national college entrance exam, or "gaokao". [Photo/Xinhua]
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Students bid farewell to each other at the entrance of Maotanchang High School in Maotanchang town of Lu'an city, East China's Anhui province, June 4, 2016.[Photo/Xinhua]
 

taxiya

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Thanks siegecrossbow!

The photos are starting to roll in..


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Seeing from these photos and also from reading Chinese internet forums, it seems to me that today's Chinese new generations are more and more overtly emotional. The banners, huggings, tears. Remind me of a phrase one of my friends (same generation as me) used to describe these newer generations, "emotion and compassion flooding".:D. But then my generation was "tough and rough", hehe.
 
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taxiya

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Registered Member
To share my own experience and people from my time:

  1. It is tough. One year of late night study. A week of tests in the hot weather (early July).
  2. It is something one can not imagine to fail.
  3. It is something one will keep on trying until exhausted, one will usually try a second time the next year if fails the first, some will try a third time.
  4. It is more like soldiers going to the battle field, heart is heavy but trying to suppress the anxiety, trying to be cool or pretending to be cool.
  5. Not so many parents going to the site with the students.
  6. After the examination, students wait at home for the admission letter. Some may make contacts to university of their 2nd choice if they didn't feel well about their performance.

So, it was as important as today, but nothing visible at the testing facility, on the street or in the media.
 

bd popeye

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Thanks taxiya! From my observation strictly from the Photos I agree with you. When did you take the exam?? Thanks.

CHEATING!! Sey what!!!!????. Yes students cheat during Gaokao!

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From 2010....Hi-tech cheating devices, discovered in a hotel room near an exam site, are displayed in Honghu, Central China's Hubei province, on June 8. Local police were informed of the cheating group, led by a man surnamed Zhou, setting up at the hotel using wireless equipment a couple days before the big exam. The police detained four men at the scene on June 4, while they were adjusting the cheating devices and captured 11 such sets, estimated at $14,000. China's national college entrance examination, or gaokao, ended on Tuesday. [Photo/Xinhua]
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From 2009...This is an illustration of how the system works: students who need help in passing the exam obtain an earpiece, which they then hook up to the airwaves of a "cheat gang" who send the answers in return for money.
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Wang Jun (not his real name) is the father of a student who passed his gaokoa at Songyuan.

This cheating business is unbelievable. I know one of my son's classmates who got 549 points in the gaokao this year, whereas before he only managed to gain 300 or 400. How come? By cheating of course!

There are two main methods of cheating here. You can either bribe the exam invigilators (there are eight in each exam) and the professor in charge (for the answers), which costs around 4,000 Yuan [€420] in total. Or you can use these technical methods, which costs around 5,000 Yuan [€520].

This cheating business makes the gaokao completely unfair for other students. My son was very depressed about it, knowing that the cheaters had taken his place in the best universities. I want the Songyuan authorities to seriously investigate this affair and hand out punishments to those who deserve them."
 
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bd popeye

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More on cheating...from 2014...

Nearly 10 million high school students sat China's national college entrance exams last weekend. The 'Gaokao' is a fiercely competitive, make-or-break test that determines the path of a student's life. Some tried to improve their chances by using high-tech equipment straight out of a James Bond film.

Police have released photos of some of the devices they confiscated, such as a camera hidden in a pair of glasses and a tiny receiver that looks like a coin.
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A hidden coil in a shirt, two batteries, a mobile phone and a receiver are displayed after being found on a student about to take an exam, in Chengdu, Sichuan province, China.Reuters
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A police officer shows glasses with a hidden camera and a tiny receiver is attached to the medal. Shenyang, Liaoning Province, China.
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Hidden camera in the pen and the receiver in the form of an eraser confiscated by the authorities in Chengdu in Sichuan Province.
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Mobile devices and receivers are confiscated by the authorities in Chengdu in Sichuan Province, China.
 

bd popeye

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Last word for now...I read that if a student is caught cheating said student is barred from repeating the exam for 3 years. Wow.

Many of these students are under enough emotional stress without flunking or getting caught cheating. What happens if they fail the exam or worse get caught cheating? Do they give up? How high does the stress level get? Do parents, who seem to be stressed out, get even more stressed? Just what happens??

@taxiya...When did you take the exam?? Thanks.
 

solarz

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My cousin failed his first gaokao. This was back in '98 or '99. He went to one year of boarding school specifically geared toward the exam, and passed it the second time.

My other cousin finished high school in 2010. I'm not sure if she didn't take the exam, or didn't do too well, but she ended up going to a vocational college to study animation.

So there are alternatives.
 

taxiya

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Last word for now...I read that if a student is caught cheating said student is barred from repeating the exam for 3 years. Wow.

Many of these students are under enough emotional stress without flunking or getting caught cheating. What happens if they fail the exam or worse get caught cheating? Do they give up? How high does the stress level get? Do parents, who seem to be stressed out, get even more stressed? Just what happens??

@taxiya...When did you take the exam?? Thanks.
me 1988

stress it is indeed. Barring exam for 3 years, I believe so. On top of that, the one who assists and facilitate the cheating will go to jail. In the imperial time, it is death penalty because it is cheating the emperor.

"Do they give up after caught cheating?", I guess they will likely give up, firstly the cheating will be entered into their personal record like a criminal record, even they take the exam again and get in college, the future would look bleak, secondly 3 years older, a bit too late for everything, also they have to keep up with the changes of education material/subject etc. not impossible but very difficult. Usually most people will try at most 3 times (I heave heard such cases) and that is the person is clean.

BTW, your giving up the full? scholarship to the university and going to the Navy instead will surprise every Chinese.:D I think a Chinese in this case will take the university and join the armed forces afterwards if they want, a graduate from a civilian university (in China) is regarded as commissioned officer just like from a military college, of course an extra basic military training will be needed. Of course, I am not judging your choice.:)
 

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