"Do you know what today is?" my student asked my as I walked into the classroom to teach on Tuesday. I really didn't have a clue. D-Day? No that's June 6. Children's Day? no that's June 1st. Dragon Boat Festival? no that's June 6th. I scrambled to think of the importance of June 7 but couldn't come up with the answer.
"It's the college entrance exam for students." he replied.
OH! The gao kao (as it's called in Chinese). It's the vital test that determines if and where a high school student gets to attend college. It's much more than the SAT. It can make or break students' future plans and careers. As I talked with the students more, I learned that the exam lasts between 2 to 2.5 days depending on the province. I also learned that last year's math part (the part these student took) was the hardest anyone could remember. One student even admitting to crying this time last year because it was so stressful and difficult.
Check out this short news article to read more about this all important exam.
Students gear up for college entrance exams1 (June 2, 2011, Xinhua)
China's upcoming annual college entrance exams, which will be taken by students across the country from June 7 to 9, have got the nation's pupils in frenzy as they prepare to take the difficult tests. Seventy-thousand of Beijing's high schoolers recently signed integrity commitments ahead of the exams. These students pledged not to cheat or plagiarize during the tests. Examinees who seriously break their commitments will be disqualified from taking the exam and will be prohibited from signing up for next year's exam as well, an official with the Beijing Education and Examination Institute said Thursday. In China, students and parents face intense pressure ahead of the college entrance examinations, which can have far-reaching effects on students' future careers, depending on their scores. Teachers, parents and other people across the country are trying their best to create a stress-free environment for students as they prepare for the arduous tests... More than 9.57 million students competed for 6.57 million places in China's universities and colleges last year. Although national education authorities have not yet released the exact number for this year, the estimated number of examinees is about 9.20 million.
1 ZGBriefs for June 2, 2011