On Campus

9.3-million Chinese take college entrance exams

But students have less competition than ever before

The world’s largest standardized entrance exam session began today in China, where 9.3-million young people began writing the gaokao. The country is taking it very seriously, reports Xinhua. Here is an excerpt of their report.

Construction sites across the country have been ordered to suspend work at night and noon, so as to create a peaceful environment for students to prepare for the exam. Bans on private cars in Beijing, which is notorious for its heavy traffic, have been temporarily lifted to allow parents to send their children to the city’s examination venues. In the island province of Hainan, seven teachers wearing red T-shirts with smiling faces embraced their students before they entered a classroom to take the exam. “Red is a lucky color. The T-shirts helped us to convey our wishes to the students,” said teacher Qin Rong from the Haikou Middle School affiliated with Hunan Normal University. Yang Yongqing was waiting for his daughter outside the school with his wife after buying vegetables at a nearby grocer. “We are going to return home with our daughter and cook some dishes for her as a reward,” Yang said.

But as serious as it’s still taken, the gaokao is not always the life-changing event it used to be. In fact, some universities in China are now fighting for students, rather than having students fight for the spots. Consider that in 1977, nearly six million people wrote the gaokao despite there being only 270,000 university seats. This year, the Ministry of Education says that 72 per cent of students will find a spot.

More Chinese will also skip the test and go straight overseas to study this year, according to Xinhua. The number of Chinese students pursuing their education abroad has risen by an average of 26 per cent per year since 1978 to a total of 284,700 in 2010.

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