Foreigners Share Their Views on Gaokao

June 6, 2018  By KIyer, ColinSpeakman, TedM, huaqiao, symondsez, Teamkrejados, RonJaDa  Editor: Wang Yue

As this year's college entrance exam, the gaokao, draws near, millions of Chinese students are spending their waking hours preparing for this one-off test. What do you think about the gaokao? Do you think it is a good and fair way to select students? Forum readers share their opinions.

KIyer (India)

The gaokao sounds like a tough exam — I am not sure it's only memorization and rote learning. All tests everywhere in the world require some memorization, but most good tests require applying one's own thinking and creativity to solve problems — else they would be easy and only pass rote learners. In countries where there is more demand than supply, or more interested in applying than available seats, there needs to be a fair filter that will eliminate some good students who would do well in uni. They will just not make it through. But that is how it is. The USA is different in that, the local demand is less than supply of seats available, and it is the other way around in China or India.

ColinSpeakman (UK)

The gaokao is not alone in education around the world in an aspect some educators feel is unfair — all a student has learned is tested by one examination. Similarly, British students take A-level exams and need high grades to get into university. The fundamental problem is a student could get so nervous, or just have an off day, on the days of these examinations. They may not do themselves justice, or what they have really learned.

Now, in many degree courses continuous assessment forms part of the overall evaluation. Coursework, in-class participation and group project work all count. Sure, there are exams, but they only contribute to part of the final score. That is the modern way. The pressure of the gaokao is a problem.

TedM (UK)

My advice to parents whose kids are sitting for the national college entrance exam: maintain a healthy balance between study time and quality family and social time. Leisure time is not time wasted. It enables a person to reflect on what has been learned, internalize it and discuss it casually. It refreshes the capacity to learn and turns a student into a happy learner; keen to learn as a pleasurable activity. Encourage your child to do his or her best, but without the stress and pressure which often results in a worse performance. Failing the gaokao is not failing as an intelligent and useful person. These days a person can succeed and aim for their dreams without it.

Huaqiao (Singapore)

The education system in China may not be perfect, but it is a good system to drill discipline into a student. That is why many Chinese students do well in foreign universities. However, doing well academically is not the same as learning. Learning involves a thought process where knowledge is absorbed, "digested" in the brain, comprehended and applied to real life. If any student fails to learn this, they have wasted their time in US universities, even if they pass the exams.

Symondsez (Expat in China)

Don't just have a academic and goals to score maximum marks. Instead, try to seek a balanced and successful life. Balanced means health, relationship, physical and mentally fit.

It is OK to miss a few classes, score low in a few exams or fail some interviews. Travel , fall in love, have a breakup, laugh out loud and cry even louder, fight and do whatever makes you happy. We are humans and not some bookworms or programmed devices.

Don't be serious, be sincere.

Teamkrejados (France)

The gaokao isn't everything. But, in China, there is such a stigma against those who do not have a college education ...

I think the greater point of the article is life is what you make it, whether you have a college degree or not.

RonJaDa (Canada)

I wish them success — both the ones that qualify to get in to the University of their choice and also to the ones that do not qualify. I hope they live happy lives. Stress is in everyone's life. Learning to manage it is part of life's struggle.

(Source: China Daily)

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