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5 things you need to know about China's Gaokao

The Gaokao is one of the toughest exams in the world. Find out more about it here.
BY Sajili Oberoi |   13-03-2018
5 things you need to know about GAOKAO

If you think you have it bad with the SATs, you are in for a shock once you get to know what Gaokao, the Chinese National Higher Education Entrance Exam has in store for its takers. Not many people outside of China know of this exam but it is a necessity for all students who wish to pursue higher education in China. Every student in China is mentally prepared since childhood to work for these exams. The month of June, which is when the exam takes place, is referred to as the “Black Month” by the Chinese youth.  

Continue reading to know more about one of the most challenging exams heard of, which cause students to take extreme measures to make sure they’re 150% prepared for it. And still, many students do not manage to crack it and repeat the entire year, as opposed to just taking the exam in a couple of months…

  1. The Gaokao test is hard work: The Gaokao test is much, MUCH longer than the SATs – While the SATs focus on reading, writing and mathematics, Gaokao covers a lot more in its exam. It includes Chinese language and literature, Mathematics, Science, Humanities and a foreign language. The exam lasts nine hours, spread over a period of two days.
     
  2. High pressure for everyone: Not just the students, their parents and teachers, but the entire nation takes Gaokao very seriously. It’s made sure that there’s no disturbance anywhere in the country near the test centers, even to the extent, that cars are not allowed to honk near that area and construction work is paused. For many teachers in China, their salary is tied to their students’ performance. If you think only students are under so much pressure that there are multiple suicide cases, it’s not unheard of with teachers there either.
     
  3. It has stringent rules: To take Gaokao, students must return to their official residence to register for the exam and take it in that province, even if they have lived in another city all their life and call it home. This not only causes a great deal of inconvenience but also means that these students must study an entirely different curriculum for Gaokao, and face even fiercer competition.
     
  4. The test is not a level playing field: If you think Gaokao is uniform and consistent, think again. The test varies from region to region and even the scores don’t rank uniformly. A score that might be considered great in a region, may be considered below average in another. Of course, to overcome this problem, many families move to regions where it might be easier for their children to get a good score, and increase their chances of getting into a better ranked university.
     
  5. It’s a huge help for the economy: A surprising effect of the Gaokao season is the boost it gives to the economy. Parents do everything in their power to ensure nothing distracts their children from the exam. They even book hotel rooms near the exam center so that traffic isn’t an issue and the children can take breaks between exams. Of course, hotels double their prices during that time. Whether it’s supplementary books or nutritional food, there is a huge increase in expenditure and thus, there’s a huge boost for the economy.

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