College Entrance Exams have begun in China. The difficult test known as the “Gaokao” will determine the futures of millions of students. And as such, preparations have not been taken lightly.
It’s 2 hours before the Gaokao officially starts, but the entrance of this Beijing middle school is already packed. The college entrance exam is so important, even the Shanghai Cooperation Organization Summit postponed their meeting for a half-hour so students would have a better chance of making it through the heavy traffic. The heads of these exam hopefuls are filled with feelings of anxiety, excitement and dreams for the future – and it shows. They are competing with 9 million other students around the country in this make-or-break exam
As a high school kid in New Jersey, in the United States, who is soon to be a university student in the same country, Qi is among a fast-growing group sidestepping China’s national college entrance exam.
The test also known as the “gaokao” is being held across the country from Thursday to Saturday. Millions of youngsters are hoping to pass it and qualify for further education in China. But many like Qi opt instead for study abroad, often qualifying through a range of foreign pre-university examinations, or to pursue alternative domestic education.
“Gaokao” authorities have seen four consecutive years of dwindling registrants since 2008, when the figure was 10.5 million. In 2012, it is 9.15 million. Three and a half decades after China resumed the exam in the wake of the 10-year Cultural Revolution, Chinese are reassessing how essential it is in defining their futures.