What Is Gaokao Exam In China?-College Entrance Examination(40+ Answers)

Education plays a vital role in shaping the future of individuals and societies. In China, one of the most important milestones in a student’s academic journey is the Gaokao exam. Often referred to as the “College Entrance Examination,” Gaokao holds immense significance for millions of Chinese students aspiring to pursue higher education. In this article, we will delve into the details of the Gaokao exam, its purpose, structure, and impact on students’ lives.

what is national college entrance examination?

Gaokao, typically referring to the National Higher Education Entrance Examination, is a nationwide standardized exam system in mainland China. It is managed by the National College Entrance Examination Office and serves as the primary admission test for Chinese universities. Gaokao is a crucial component of the examination system in mainland China and is held once a year, usually in June, targeting high school graduates. The exam subjects typically include Chinese language, mathematics, foreign languages, physics, chemistry, biology, history, geography, and politics, covering the curriculum of the high school stage.

Gaokao is one of the significant exams that every young person must undergo on their path to entering university. The exam results often serve as a critical criterion for evaluating whether candidates can be admitted to universities and also reflect the level of higher education development in the country. For the candidates themselves, Gaokao provides a fair, just, and transparent opportunity to enhance their abilities and qualities through their own efforts, studies, and hard work, laying a solid foundation for their future personal and career development. Simultaneously, Gaokao serves as an opportunity to test the effectiveness of the social evaluation system, allowing society to assess the quality of schools, education, teachers, policies, as well as the overall qualities and abilities of the candidates.

In summary, Gaokao holds a significant position and influence within the admission examination system for higher education in mainland China. It plays a crucial role in the life choices of candidates and the development of the country’s education. Translated to English, Gaokao can be described as a vital examination that carries great significance and impact on both the individual candidates and the overall educational landscape of China.

what are college entrance exams called?

The Gaokao, also known as the National Higher Education Entrance Examination, is a selective examination in the People’s Republic of China taken by qualified high school graduates or candidates with equivalent educational backgrounds. The Gaokao provides a standardized assessment for college admissions. There are two examination sessions each year, the Spring College Entrance Examination and the Autumn College Entrance Examination. In addition, there is a category of exams known as the Higher Education Vocational Examinations, which include the Self-taught Examination and the Adult Higher Education Entrance Examination.

when did gaokao start?

The Gaokao examination is held on June 7th and 8th every year. The subject names of the examination in each province or municipality must be consistent with the national examination. The Gaokao is conducted on a provincial basis, and although the start of the academic year varies among provinces, within the same province, all universities adhere to the same start date. The number of admissions allocated to each province by universities has been predetermined, and the examination results are compared only among students within the same province, without any influence from other provinces. Therefore, the ranking of students within the same province based on their Gaokao scores should be fair to all students in that province.

what is the purpose of the gaokao exam?

The primary purpose of the Gaokao is to select talented individuals for higher education and contribute to the development and construction of the nation. For individuals, the Gaokao represents an opportunity to gain access to further educational resources and even change their lives, while also providing a pathway for social mobility.

The Gaokao is not just an exam; it serves as a platform for talent competition and social selection. Without such a selection mechanism like the Gaokao, various factors could interfere with one’s educational prospects. The Gaokao provides a fair competition platform where individuals’ knowledge and academic achievements determine their future. It ensures equal opportunities for students to compete on a level playing field.

The purpose of the Gaokao is to identify and select talents and provide students with a fair opportunity for competition. Its essence lies in obtaining the qualification for higher-level education through examination. The significance of the Gaokao lies in adding color to one’s own life journey.

what age do you take the gaokao?

According to the regulations, high school seniors (students in Grade 12) are eligible to participate in the Gaokao. Typically, Gaokao candidates are between 17 and 18 years old, but it doesn’t preclude students who are younger than 17 or older than 18 from taking the exam.

Early Entrance Exam

The early entrance exam refers to students who are younger than high school seniors taking the Gaokao. Generally, these are students below the age of 16. In most cases, candidates must meet certain criteria to be eligible for the early entrance exam, such as achieving specific exam scores, participating in sports activities, or competing in national student competitions.

Delayed Entrance Exam

The delayed entrance exam refers to students who are older than high school seniors participating in the Gaokao. Typically, these are students aged 19 and above, meaning their age exceeds the normal eligibility age for the Gaokao. However, they are still allowed to take the exam.

One-time Gaokao Participation

Some students may consider participating in both the early entrance and delayed entrance exams, meaning they can take the Gaokao at a younger age and also at an older age. This is a viable option, but these students must carefully assess their own capabilities to avoid compromising their academic progress.

Impact of Gaokao Reforms on Age Requirements

In recent years, reforms to the Gaokao have been continuously implemented, particularly comprehensive reforms, which have had some impact on the age requirements for the exam. For example, in some provinces, restrictions on Gaokao age have been relaxed. Additionally, there have been adjustments to the requirements for early entrance and delayed entrance exams in certain provinces to cater to the needs of more students.

Gaokao nail household

Gaokao, also known as the National College Entrance Examination in China, has no age restrictions. As long as students wish to participate, they can do so at any time. This has led to the emergence of what is called “dingzi hu” in Gaokao, referring to candidates who have taken the exam multiple times and are generally older in age but still participate in Gaokao.

Liang Shi, born in 1967, who has already achieved success in his career. However, in pursuit of his dream of attending university, he started taking Gaokao in 1983. Despite passing the cutoff score for second-tier universities multiple times, he admitted to not being admitted to his desired university. As a result, he gave up on filling out college applications and continued taking Gaokao the following year. This year marked his 25th attempt, with a score of 403. He plans to switch from science subjects to humanities in the coming year. In truth, this individual has treated Gaokao as an obsession, and even if he achieves a high score for admission to a prestigious university in the future, such as Tsinghua University or a top-tier university in China, he will still participate in Gaokao the following year. It is highly probable that he will persist in his attempts. Ironically, Gaokao will not have any impact on him but may even contribute to his fame as an internet celebrity.

Kang Lianxi, born in the 1940s, who took Gaokao for the first time in 2001 when age restrictions were lifted. He participated in Gaokao a total of 19 times, achieving a score of 303 in 2009, which was sufficient to pass the cutoff for admission to a junior college. However, he did not pursue higher education, and there is no news of his participation in Gaokao this year.

Liu Yuchun, who is in his 70s, is not an exception to the trend of older individuals participating in Gaokao. A resident of Henan Province, Liu Yuchun, aged 72, took the Gaokao and finally achieved a total score of 245 in 2020, successfully gaining admission to Puyang Vocational and Technical College in Henan. This scenario brings to mind the story of Fan Jin’s success in the imperial examination during the Ming Dynasty.

Wang Xia, born in 1929 and a resident of Nanjing, has participated in Gaokao continuously for 15 times, despite being at an advanced age. Jiangsu Province, known as the “Gaokao Hell,” is where Wang Xia resides. Although the outcome is predictable, his perseverance is worthy of admiration.

Cao Xiangfan, born in 1968 and a native of Hunan Province, took Gaokao for the first time in 1987 but did not achieve success. He was admitted to Hunan Public Security College in 2007. Throughout this period, he participated in Gaokao a total of 13 times. After graduating from university, he became a teacher at the Third Middle School in Hanshou County, Changde.

Zhang Fei, unlike others who repeatedly failed Gaokao, excelled academically and took the exam four times. He was admitted to Tsinghua University twice, Peking University once, and Fudan University once. However, due to failing seven compulsory courses, he was advised to withdraw from Peking University. In the following year, he ranked first in the science stream in Nanchong City and was admitted to Tsinghua University. Honestly, during that time, there was no restriction on the number of top scorers, and obtaining such a title brought both fame and fortune. Rumors suggested that he likely repeatedly attempted Gaokao to improve his scores, but only he knows what achievements he obtained.

Wu Shanliu, a resident of Guangxi Province, is also an academic achiever. In 2000, he was admitted to a regular university but didn’t attend. The following year, he set his sights on Tsinghua University and took the Gaokao ten times. During this period, he was accepted by several prestigious universities, including Beijing Normal University, Sun Yat-sen University, Tongji University, Nanjing University, and Peking University. Finally, in 2014, he was admitted to Tsinghua University. Fortunately, this happened in Guangxi. If it were in Hebei or Henan… well, it would have been different.

Qi Yongzhang, born in 1986 and a resident of Anhui Province, worked as a security guard at Anhui University before participating in Gaokao continuously for ten times. He became well-known to the public. Although he stopped participating after 2012, he began self-studying and passed 28 exams within five years, eventually obtaining a bachelor’s degree through self-study in 2019.

why is the gaokao so hard?

Gaokao is known to be challenging for several reasons:

Intense competition: Gaokao is a highly competitive examination, with a large number of students vying for a limited number of spots in prestigious universities. The pressure to outperform peers and achieve a high score creates a highly competitive environment.

Broad and comprehensive curriculum: Gaokao covers a wide range of subjects, including Chinese, Mathematics, English, and other specialized subjects depending on the chosen stream (science, humanities, or arts). Students are expected to have a solid understanding of multiple subjects, requiring extensive studying and preparation.

Extensive syllabus: The curriculum for Gaokao is vast and covers several years of education. Students are expected to have a deep knowledge of the subjects they have studied throughout their high school years, making it a comprehensive assessment of their overall academic performance.

Strict grading system: Gaokao uses a standardized grading system, where students are evaluated based on a fixed set of criteria. The high-stakes nature of the exam means that even minor differences in performance can significantly impact a student’s chances of admission to a top-tier university.

Societal importance: Gaokao is considered a critical milestone in a student’s academic journey, as it determines their access to higher education and future career prospects. The significance placed on Gaokao by society and families adds additional pressure on students to excel in the examination.

Limited opportunities: The number of available seats in prestigious universities is limited, especially in renowned institutions like Tsinghua University and Peking University. This limited availability creates intense competition and raises the bar for admission, making the exam more challenging.

The combination of these factors contributes to the difficulty level of Gaokao and underscores its reputation as a rigorous and demanding examination.

College Entrance Examination

is gaokao compulsory?

Yes, Gaokao is compulsory for students in China who wish to pursue higher education. It is the national college entrance examination and serves as the primary method of admission to universities and colleges in China. Students who complete their high school education are expected to take the Gaokao examination if they intend to continue their studies at the undergraduate level.

Participation in Gaokao is considered crucial for students as it determines their eligibility and ranking for admission into universities. The exam results have a significant impact on their future educational opportunities and career prospects. Students who do not take the Gaokao or do not perform well may face limited options for higher education and professional development.

However, it is important to note that while Gaokao is the most common pathway to enter higher education in China, there are alternative routes available for individuals who do not participate in or succeed in the Gaokao. These alternatives include vocational education, adult education, or self-study examinations, which provide opportunities for further education and skill development outside the traditional university track.

Who cannot take the college entrance examination?

New regulations for Gaokao: These types of students are restricted from participating in Gaokao:

Students in the first and second year of high school:

Participating in Gaokao used to be allowed for students in the first and second year of high school if they had advanced their studies and reached the level of third-year students. However, with the restrictions on student identities, first and second-year students are no longer allowed to take the Gaokao. This restriction aims to maximize the availability of Gaokao resources for third-year students.

Students with relocated household registration (hukou):

Gaokao now imposes restrictions on the hukou (household registration) of students. This is to prevent students from attempting to take advantage of different regional policies and preferential treatment in areas with less developed education. If students are found attempting to exploit this loophole by using lower scores to gain admission to prestigious schools, they will be disqualified from participating in Gaokao.

Students serving sentences:

Students who have committed crimes and are above the age of 16 will face legal sanctions and serve sentences based on the nature of their offenses. Students who are serving sentences are not allowed to participate in Gaokao since they are held accountable for their actions.

Students who have already been admitted through special recommendations:

Every year, a few outstanding students are offered early admissions to prestigious universities before Gaokao. Such students do not need to take Gaokao. However, if they wish to experience the Gaokao, they would have to give up their admission through special recommendations.

In most cases, it is unlikely that anyone would choose to participate in Gaokao under these circumstances. These regulations aim to prevent the waste of Gaokao resources. These behaviors may also result in students missing the opportunity to take Gaokao, which is a crucial event in their lives.


Missing Gaokao due to:

Being late for the exam:

Every year, there are some students who arrive late for one of the exam subjects. According to the regulations, if a candidate fails to enter the examination room within 15 minutes after the start of the exam, they will not be able to take the undergraduate exam. This time restriction is even more critical for the English subject, which includes a listening section. No exceptions can be made for late arrivals, regardless of personal circumstances. Therefore, it is crucial for candidates to manage their time properly during the exam.

Losing exam documents:

Similar to being late, there are also cases every year where students lose their identification documents, such as their ID cards or admission tickets, resulting in disqualification from Gaokao. Though teachers emphasize the importance of keeping these documents safe, incidents of document loss still occur. Losing relevant exam documents during the Gaokao process leads to the inability to enter the examination room and missing the exam. While it is regrettable, it is ultimately an error caused by one’s carelessness. Therefore, students need to be more careful in managing their documents.

Who can go to college without taking the gaokao?

Gaokao is one of the most important exams in the Chinese education system as it determines whether a student can enter university. However, there are individuals who can enter prestigious universities without taking Gaokao. These include the following categories:

International students:

International students refer to students from countries other than China. These students usually need to take the International Student Admission Exam instead of Gaokao. If their scores meet the requirements, they can be admitted to renowned Chinese universities.

Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan students:

Students from Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan typically need to take the Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan Student Admission Exam instead of Gaokao. If their scores meet the requirements, they can be admitted to renowned Chinese universities.

Art students:

Art students have a specialized admission process that focuses on their talents in music, dance, fine arts, etc. These students usually need to take the Art Student Admission Exam instead of Gaokao. If their scores meet the requirements, they can be admitted to renowned Chinese universities.

Sports talents:

Sports talents have a specialized admission process that focuses on their skills in sports. These students usually need to take the Sports Talent Admission Exam instead of Gaokao. If their scores meet the requirements, they can be admitted to renowned Chinese universities.

Special admission programs:

Special admission programs cater to students with exceptional talents in specific fields such as military, politics, and science. These students usually need to take the Special Admission Program Exam instead of Gaokao. If their scores meet the requirements, they can be admitted to renowned Chinese universities.

how does gaokao work?

Gaokao, also known as the National College Entrance Examination, is a standardized test administered in China to evaluate students’ academic abilities and determine their eligibility for admission to universities and colleges. Here’s an overview of how Gaokao works:

Subjects and Format: Gaokao typically covers core subjects such as Chinese language, mathematics, and a foreign language (usually English). Depending on the chosen major or specialization, additional subjects such as physics, chemistry, biology, history, geography, and politics may be included. The exam is primarily in multiple-choice format, but some sections may also require essay writing or problem-solving.

Exam Administration: Gaokao takes place once a year, usually over a two-day period in June. The exam questions are prepared by educational authorities at the national level and distributed to testing centers across the country. Each province or region has its own testing center where students take the exam.

Eligibility and Registration: Students who have completed their high school education or have equivalent qualifications are eligible to take Gaokao. They must register for the exam through their respective schools or educational institutions within the designated registration period. The registration process involves submitting necessary documents and paying the required fees.

Exam Scoring: Gaokao is scored on a standardized scale. Each subject is assigned a maximum score, and the scores are calculated based on the number of correct answers and the difficulty level of the questions. The overall Gaokao score is determined by combining the scores of all subjects. The scores obtained by students are used to rank their performance relative to other test-takers.

University Admission: After the Gaokao results are released, universities and colleges in China use the scores as the primary criterion for admission. Different institutions have different admission requirements and minimum score thresholds. Students with higher Gaokao scores have a better chance of being admitted to prestigious universities or programs. They typically submit their preferred university choices and majors during the application process, and admission decisions are made based on their scores, preferences, and available quotas.

Gaokao is a highly competitive exam, and students dedicate significant time and effort to prepare for it. The results of Gaokao can have a profound impact on students’ educational opportunities and future career paths.

how long does gaokao last?

The Gaokao, or National College Entrance Examination, typically lasts for two days. Each day of the exam is dedicated to specific subject areas. The exact duration of the exam can vary slightly from year to year, but generally, each exam day consists of multiple sessions, with breaks in between. The total duration of the Gaokao can range from approximately 9 to 10 hours over the two-day period.

how many subjects in gaokao?

The Gaokao typically includes a standardized set of subjects that students are tested on. The exact subjects may vary slightly depending on the province or region, but generally, there are three main subject areas:

Compulsory Subjects: These subjects are mandatory for all students and typically include Chinese Language (or Chinese Literature), Mathematics, and a Foreign Language (usually English).

Science or Humanities Stream: Students are given the option to choose either the science stream or the humanities stream based on their academic focus and career aspirations. The science stream subjects often include Physics, Chemistry, and Biology, while the humanities stream subjects may include History, Geography, and Political Science.

Elective Subjects: In addition to the compulsory and stream-specific subjects, students may have the option to choose one or more elective subjects from a range of disciplines such as Economics, Computer Science, Fine Arts, or Physical Education. The availability of elective subjects can vary depending on the region and school.

It’s important to note that the specific subjects and their weightage in the Gaokao can differ across provinces, and the content of the exams is based on the curriculum covered during high school.

how many questions are on the gaokao?

The number of questions on the Gaokao can vary depending on the subject and the specific year’s examination. Generally, each subject in the Gaokao is divided into multiple sections or parts, and each part consists of a set number of questions.

For example, in subjects like Chinese Language, Mathematics, and English, there are typically multiple sections covering different topics. Each section may have a varying number of questions, ranging from multiple-choice questions to short-answer questions or essay-type questions.

The total number of questions can also differ from year to year and can depend on factors such as the difficulty level of the exam, the duration of each subject’s test, and the overall structure of the Gaokao.

It’s important to note that the Gaokao is a rigorous and comprehensive examination, and the exact number of questions can vary between subjects and across different provinces or regions in China.

how is gaokao graded?

The Gaokao in China is graded using a standardized scoring system. The scoring process involves multiple steps and considerations. Here is an overview of how Gaokao is typically graded:

Raw Scores: Each student receives a raw score for each subject they take in the Gaokao. The raw score is based on the number of correct answers the student provides in the exam.

Scaling: To account for differences in the difficulty level across different exam papers, a scaling process is applied. This process adjusts the raw scores to ensure fairness and consistency in the scoring. It takes into account the performance of all the students who took the exam and adjusts the scores accordingly.

Total Score Calculation: The scaled scores from all the subjects are added together to calculate the student’s total score. Each subject may carry a different weight or significance in the total score calculation, depending on the requirements and policies set by the educational authorities.

Percentile Ranking: The total score of each student is compared to the scores of all other students who took the Gaokao in the same year. This comparison determines the student’s percentile ranking, which indicates their position relative to other test takers. For example, a student in the 90th percentile has performed better than 90% of the test takers.

University Admission: Universities and colleges in China set their own admission standards, including minimum Gaokao score requirements for various programs. Based on their Gaokao scores and other factors such as personal statements and interviews, students are then considered for admission to different institutions and programs. The specific admission criteria can vary among universities and may also consider other factors like regional quotas and special talent programs.

It’s worth noting that Gaokao scores are highly influential in determining university admissions in China. A student’s performance in the Gaokao can significantly impact their chances of being accepted into prestigious institutions and desired programs.

how much is Gaokao out of?

The Gaokao in China is typically scored out of a total of 750 points. The total score is the sum of the scores obtained in each subject that the student takes during the exam. Each subject is usually scored out of 150 points. However, it’s important to note that scoring systems and total point allocations can vary slightly depending on regional differences and specific policies implemented by educational authorities.

highest gaokao score ever

As of my knowledge cutoff in September 2021, the highest reported Gaokao score ever achieved was 750 points. This perfect score signifies that the student answered every question correctly across all subjects. It’s worth mentioning that the scoring system and exam structure may have evolved since then, so there may have been updates or changes to the scoring scale or individual subject scores in recent years. For the most accurate and up-to-date information, it is advisable to refer to official sources or recent reports regarding Gaokao scores.

average gaokao score

The average Gaokao score can vary from year to year and also depends on the region. Gaokao scores are usually reported on a scale of 750 points, with each subject contributing a maximum of 150 points. However, it’s important to note that there is no fixed “average” Gaokao score as it depends on the performance of the students in a particular year and region.

In some highly competitive regions, such as Beijing and Shanghai, the average Gaokao scores tend to be relatively higher due to the intense competition among students. On the other hand, in less competitive regions, the average scores might be lower.

It’s worth mentioning that Gaokao scores are relative and based on the performance of all the test-takers. Therefore, the average score can vary significantly depending on factors such as the difficulty of the exam, the quality of education, and the academic competitiveness of the region.

what is a good score on the gaokao?

A good score on the Gaokao is typically considered to be above the average score of the test-takers in a particular year and region. However, it’s important to note that what constitutes a “good” score can vary depending on various factors such as the competitiveness of the region, the desired university or program, and personal aspirations.

In general, a score that places a student in the top percentile of test-takers is often considered excellent. This means achieving a score significantly higher than the average and being among the top performers. Universities, especially the more prestigious ones, typically have higher admission requirements and may require higher Gaokao scores for acceptance.

Ultimately, it’s essential to have realistic expectations and consider the specific requirements and standards of the universities or programs you are interested in. It’s also important to remember that Gaokao scores are just one factor in the overall university admission process, and other factors such as extracurricular activities, personal statements, and interviews may also be considered.

what if you fail gaokao?

Failing the Gaokao can be a challenging and disappointing experience for students. However, it’s important to remember that the Gaokao is not the only path to success and there are alternative options available for further education and career advancement.

If a student fails the Gaokao, there are several alternative paths they can consider:

Retake the Gaokao: Students who fail the Gaokao have the option to retake the exam in the following year. They can use the additional time to better prepare and improve their scores.

Apply for other universities or programs: There are universities and programs in China that have lower admission requirements or consider additional factors beyond Gaokao scores. Students can explore these options and apply for institutions that align with their academic interests and goals.

Consider vocational or technical schools: Vocational schools offer specialized training in specific fields and can provide valuable skills for future employment. Students can explore vocational programs that align with their interests and career aspirations.

Study abroad: Failing the Gaokao doesn’t mean the end of educational opportunities. Students can consider studying abroad in countries that offer alternative pathways for higher education. They can explore options such as foundation programs, community colleges, or universities that consider other criteria for admission.

Pursue alternative career paths: Some students may choose to enter the workforce directly or explore entrepreneurship opportunities instead of pursuing higher education immediately. They can develop their skills, gain work experience, and consider other avenues for personal and professional growth.

It’s important to approach the situation with resilience, adaptability, and a positive mindset. Failing the Gaokao does not define a person’s abilities or future prospects. There are multiple pathways to success, and individuals can find their own unique paths based on their interests, talents, and determination. Seeking guidance from counselors, mentors, and supportive individuals can also be beneficial in exploring alternative options and making informed decisions.

how much harder is Gaokao than sat?

Comparing the Gaokao and the SAT is challenging because they are different in nature, content, and purpose. However, it is commonly perceived that the Gaokao is more difficult and comprehensive than the SAT. Here are a few factors that contribute to this perception:

Scope and Length: The Gaokao covers a wide range of subjects, including Chinese, Mathematics, a foreign language (typically English), and additional subjects based on the student’s chosen academic track. The exam typically spans multiple days, with each subject having multiple sections and a longer testing duration. In contrast, the SAT focuses on Math, Evidence-Based Reading and Writing, and an optional Essay section. The entire SAT can be completed in a single day.

Depth and Complexity: The Gaokao tends to have more extensive content coverage and places greater emphasis on rote memorization, application of knowledge, and problem-solving skills. The questions can be highly detailed and require comprehensive understanding of the subject matter. The SAT, on the other hand, tests critical thinking, analysis, and reasoning abilities within a narrower scope.

Cultural Context: The Gaokao is specifically designed to align with the Chinese educational system and curriculum. It reflects the educational priorities, teaching methods, and content emphasized in Chinese schools. The SAT, being a standardized test used globally, aims to assess general academic abilities and is less culturally specific.

Stakes and Impact: The Gaokao has significant implications for a student’s future, as it is the primary determinant for college admissions in China. The intense competition and high expectations surrounding the Gaokao add to the perceived difficulty. The SAT, while important for college admissions in the United States and other countries, is only one factor among many considered by universities during the application process.

It’s worth noting that difficulty is subjective, and individuals may find one exam more challenging than the other based on their strengths, weaknesses, and familiarity with the content. Additionally, the Gaokao and the SAT serve different purposes and cater to different educational systems. Therefore, it’s important to approach each exam within its respective context and prepare accordingly.

how many students take gaokao every year?

The number of students taking the Gaokao (National College Entrance Examination) in China varies each year but typically reaches tens of millions. The exact number fluctuates based on factors such as the population of high school students in a given year and regional variations. The Gaokao is a nationwide examination, and its significance in China’s education system makes it one of the largest and most competitive exams in the world.

how to prepare for gaokao?

Preparing for the Gaokao requires careful planning and dedicated study. Here are some steps you can take to prepare for the exam:

Familiarize yourself with the exam format: Understand the structure, subjects, and scoring system of the Gaokao. This will help you create a study plan and prioritize your preparation.

Review the syllabus: Obtain the official syllabus for each subject tested in the Gaokao and go through it thoroughly. Understand the key concepts, topics, and skills required for each subject.

Create a study schedule: Plan your study time and allocate sufficient time for each subject. Divide your study sessions into smaller, manageable chunks and cover all the subjects over the course of your preparation period.

Practice past exam papers: Obtain and solve previous years’ Gaokao papers. This will give you a sense of the exam’s difficulty level, help you become familiar with the question formats, and allow you to practice time management.

Seek guidance from teachers or tutors: Consult with your teachers or consider hiring tutors who specialize in Gaokao preparation. They can provide valuable insights, offer guidance on effective study strategies, and clarify any doubts you may have.

Utilize study resources: Make use of textbooks, study guides, online resources, and educational apps specifically designed for Gaokao preparation. These resources can provide additional practice questions, explanations, and tips.

Develop effective study techniques: Experiment with different study techniques to find what works best for you. This may include summarizing key points, creating flashcards, participating in study groups, or using mnemonic devices.

Take mock exams: Simulate exam conditions by taking mock exams. This will help you assess your progress, identify areas that need improvement, and get accustomed to the pressure of the actual exam.

Take care of your health: Maintain a balanced lifestyle during your preparation period. Get enough sleep, eat nutritious meals, exercise regularly, and manage stress effectively. Taking care of your physical and mental well-being is crucial for optimal performance.

Stay motivated and focused: Stay motivated by setting realistic goals and celebrating small achievements along the way. Stay focused on your studies and avoid distractions that can hinder your progress.

Remember, the Gaokao is a challenging exam, and preparation requires consistent effort over an extended period of time. Stay disciplined, persevere through difficulties, and seek support when needed.

Preparing exam materials:

Prepare the following items for the exam: 2B pencils, a 0.5mm black ink pen, erasers, a pencil sharpener, a compass, a ruler, as well as your admission ticket. These items should be organized and placed in a transparent plastic bag or a file bag the night before the exam. Sharpen the 2B pencils in advance (if using mechanical pencils, beware of counterfeit products).

You can also prepare a small towel to wipe away sweat. Place your water bottle on the ground during the exam. There have been cases where students accidentally wet their answer sheets while drinking water, causing significant trouble. Pay attention to this detail.

Decide on the clothes you will wear on the day of the exam and set them aside separately. Don’t waste time in the morning of the exam day choosing your outfit.

gaokao exam topper

“Gaokao Top Scorer” generally refers to the first-place student in the National College Entrance Examination (NCEE), also known as Gaokao, in mainland China. The exam is conducted nationwide and serves as the basis for college admissions in different provinces, autonomous regions, and municipalities. Gaokao Top Scorers can be classified into “Raw Score Top Scorers” and “Bonus Point Top Scorers” based on whether they received additional points. They can also be categorized as “Arts Top Scorers” or “Science Top Scorers” based on their subject choices. Additionally, there are “Repeat Year Top Scorers.” Over the years, Gaokao Top Scorers have garnered significant attention and commercial value due to their academic achievements, creating a profound impact on Chinese society. The aura surrounding Gaokao Top Scorers reflects the fascination and cultural significance associated with academic excellence, capturing the attention of students, universities, schools, teachers, parents, businesses, media, and society as a whole.

gaokao and Confucius

During the Gaokao season, both parents and students pay homage to Confucius, seeking blessings and expressing their hopes for a brighter future. This act helps alleviate tension, soothe the soul, and demonstrate respect for the revered philosopher. For nearly two millennia, people have been captivated by the profound ideas of Confucius, which permeate every aspect of life and emanate a grand and harmonious philosophy. Confucius is not only a symbol of Chinese traditional culture but also a foundation for reverence and admiration of virtuous sages. While we may not be able to acquire the depth of Confucius’s knowledge, we can learn from his emotional intelligence and mindset, which are still applicable today. This is why many parents and students worship Confucius sculptures and pray for their children’s success in exams.

Speaking of Confucius, he is widely known, and bronze statues of him can be found in many schools. Students often visit these statues to pay respects and seek blessings before exams, hoping for good results. In Chinese folk culture, it is believed that ancestors who have passed away can bless their descendants. This belief, combined with Confucius’s contributions to culture, has contributed to the widespread worship of Confucius today. Worshipping Confucius before the Gaokao not only provides students with spiritual support but also helps them relax, adjust their mindset, and prepare for the exam.

Furthermore, the imposing and artistic nature of Confucius sculptures has a calming effect on some individuals, helping to alleviate restlessness and pressure within. This soothing of emotions contributes to a stable state of mind, which is beneficial during the exam process. Some campus Confucius statues have classic quotes from Confucius’s Analects engraved on their pedestals.

The Analects are also within the scope of examination content for Gaokao. If fortunate, a student may happen to see the quote on the statue and recall relevant knowledge points. Encountering an exam question related to that quote would be an incredibly fortunate situation. In the fiercely competitive Gaokao, where every point counts, such an encounter could potentially change one’s destiny.

consecrate Confucius

gaokao history

The evolution of the college entrance examination system in China can be traced back to the imperial examination system during the Sui Dynasty. Here is a brief overview of the historical development of the college entrance examination system:

Sui Dynasty (581-618): The imperial examination system was introduced during the reign of Emperor Wen of Sui. It was initially selective, and only a small number of candidates were chosen through four to five rounds of examinations.

Tang Dynasty (618-907): The imperial examination system was widely used during the Tang Dynasty. The examination subjects included the Xiucai (preliminary exam), Mingjing (examination on classics), Jinshi (advanced exam), Junshi (military exam), Mingfa (civil law exam), Mingzi (civil service exam on character), Mingsuan (civil service exam on arithmetic), and more. The Xiucai exam was initially rigorous but later abolished.

Song Dynasty (960-1279): The Song Dynasty witnessed the mature development of the imperial examination system. The system remained largely unchanged from the Song Dynasty to the Qing Dynasty, which was a long period of stability for the examination system. The emperor himself presided over the highest-level examination known as “Zhi Ke,” which was held in the palace.

Ming Dynasty (1368-1644): The imperial examination system reached its peak during the Ming Dynasty. In 1367, Emperor Zhu Yuanzhang issued an order to establish the Wen (literary) and Wu (military) examinations. The “Xiucai” candidates were exempted from further examination and directly appointed to official positions in the capital city. However, it was later realized that these selected candidates lacked practical experience.

Zhu Yuanzhang

Qing Dynasty (1644-1912): On May 2, 1905, influential officials such as Zhang Zhidong, Yuan Shikai, and Duanfang jointly memorialized the Qing court to abolish the imperial examination system and establish modern schools. As a result, the examination system was officially abolished in 1906.

After the establishment of the People’s Republic of China:

Exploration Period (1952-1965): In 1952, the Ministry of Education issued regulations for unified enrollment in higher education institutions, marking the beginning of the exploration of a new college entrance examination system. The examination subjects included political knowledge, Chinese language, mathematics, Chinese and foreign history and geography, foreign language, chemistry, and biology. The unified enrollment system was implemented.

Suspension Period (1966-1971): During the Cultural Revolution, the college entrance examination system was canceled, and the focus shifted to political movements. This led to a six-year suspension of the national unified college entrance examination, causing significant disruption in talent cultivation and national development.

Recommended Admission Period (1972-1976): In 1970, based on Mao Zedong’s directive that “universities must be operated,” Beijing University and Tsinghua University piloted a new admission method. This period saw the introduction of a non-essential admission method based on political background rather than academic qualifications.

Restoration and Reconstruction Period (1977-1984): In 1977, Deng Xiaoping led the restoration of the college entrance examination. The Ministry of Education issued opinions on the enrollment of higher education students, and the national unified college entrance examination was officially restored in 1978. This marked a significant turning point in the recovery of education and the fate of millions of individuals in China.

Diversification and Reform Period (1985-1998): In 1985, China initiated a series of reforms in the college entrance examination system. Policies and experimental programs were introduced to promote diversified enrollment, implement high school examinations, modify the subject structure.

who invented gaokao?

The Imperial Examination system, or Keju system, was established by Emperor Wen of the Sui Dynasty. Emperor Wen initiated the practice of using specialized examinations to select government officials. It was during the reign of Emperor Yang of the Sui Dynasty that the Jinshi examination was formally established, which selected talented individuals based on their examination scores. This marked the official birth of the Imperial Examination system in ancient China. The Imperial Examination was a system implemented by feudal rulers in ancient China to select talented individuals and allocate resources. It was an examination system in which scholars participated to compete for official positions, and those who excelled in their studies would enter government service. The modern-day Gaokao is an evolution of the Imperial Examination system.

The Gaokao, which is the national college entrance examination in China, was not invented by a specific individual. It is a standardized examination system that has evolved over time and is the result of various historical and educational reforms in China.

The modern form of the Gaokao can be traced back to the restoration and reconstruction period in the late 1970s. After the Cultural Revolution, Deng Xiaoping led the efforts to restore the college entrance examination system. The Ministry of Education issued opinions on the enrollment of higher education students, and the national unified college entrance examination was officially restored in 1978.

The Gaokao was designed to be a fair and merit-based system to select students for admission to higher education institutions in China. It aims to assess students’ academic knowledge and abilities in subjects such as Chinese, mathematics, foreign languages, and various other subjects depending on the chosen academic track.

While the Gaokao system has undergone changes and reforms over the years, it remains an integral part of the Chinese education system and plays a significant role in determining students’ access to higher education opportunities.

Wen of Sui

when was the gaokao created?

The Gaokao, or the National College Entrance Examination, was established in the People’s Republic of China in 1952. It was introduced as a standardized entrance examination for universities and colleges in China. The purpose of the Gaokao is to evaluate and select students for higher education institutions based on their academic performance and aptitude. Since its inception, the Gaokao has played a significant role in determining students’ educational opportunities and future career prospects in China.

Who administers the gaokao exam in China?

The Gaokao exam in China is administered by the Ministry of Education of the People’s Republic of China. The ministry is responsible for setting the policies and regulations for the examination, coordinating its implementation across different regions, and ensuring its fairness and integrity. Additionally, local education authorities, such as provincial education departments, play a role in organizing and overseeing the administration of the Gaokao within their respective regions.

Is the gaokao the same in each province?

While the Gaokao is a nationwide standardized examination in China, there can be some variations in the specific content and format of the exam across different provinces. The overall structure and subjects covered in the Gaokao are consistent throughout the country, but certain provinces may have additional sections or specific requirements based on local circumstances.

The Ministry of Education provides guidelines and regulations for the Gaokao, ensuring a certain level of uniformity and fairness across the nation. However, provincial education authorities have some flexibility in implementing these guidelines, which may result in minor differences in the exam format, scoring systems, or subject emphasis from one province to another.

Despite these variations, the core purpose of the Gaokao remains the same: to evaluate and rank students’ academic performance for university admission purposes.

have the gaokao in ancient China?

No, the Gaokao, as we know it today, did not exist in ancient China. The Gaokao is a modern examination system that was established in the People’s Republic of China in 1952 as part of the education reforms following the founding of the country. It was implemented as a standardized nationwide examination to assess students’ academic abilities and determine their eligibility for higher education.

In ancient China, the system of selecting officials and scholars was primarily based on the civil service examination known as the “Keju” or “Imperial Examination.” This system originated during the Sui Dynasty (581-618 AD) and lasted until the late Qing Dynasty (1644-1912 AD). The Imperial Examination was a rigorous and highly competitive examination that tested candidates’ knowledge of Confucian classics and literary skills. It served as the primary means for selecting government officials and scholars for the imperial bureaucracy.

The Imperial Examination system in ancient China had similarities to the modern Gaokao in that it aimed to select and promote talented individuals based on their intellectual abilities. However, the formats, content, and purposes of these two examination systems differ significantly, with the Gaokao being a more modern and comprehensive evaluation of students’ knowledge and skills across various subjects.

why is the gaokao so important?

The Gaokao is considered extremely important in China for several reasons:

Higher Education Entrance: The Gaokao is the primary criterion for admission to undergraduate programs in Chinese universities. It serves as a standardized assessment to determine students’ eligibility and ranking for admission. Since higher education is highly valued in Chinese society and seen as a pathway to success and social mobility, performing well in the Gaokao is crucial for securing a spot in a prestigious university.

Competitiveness: The Gaokao is highly competitive, with a large number of students vying for limited university seats. The results of the Gaokao are used to rank students, and admission to top-tier universities is often highly competitive. Scoring well in the Gaokao can provide students with better opportunities for their future careers.

Family and Societal Pressure: The Gaokao carries significant pressure from families, peers, and society. It is seen as a culmination of years of education and preparation, and success in the Gaokao is often equated with academic excellence and future success. Many families invest considerable resources, time, and effort in preparing their children for the Gaokao, adding to the pressure on students to perform well.

National Recognition: The Gaokao is considered a national examination, and its results are widely recognized and respected throughout China. Scoring high in the Gaokao can bring recognition and pride to individuals and their families, as it is seen as a reflection of academic ability and hard work.

Employment Opportunities: A high Gaokao score can also have an impact on future employment prospects. Some employers consider Gaokao scores as an important criterion when evaluating job applicants, particularly for prestigious positions or in fields where academic excellence is highly valued.

Overall, the Gaokao’s importance stems from its role in determining access to higher education, social mobility, and future career opportunities in China. The exam is seen as a significant milestone in the lives of Chinese students and carries considerable weight in shaping their educational and professional trajectories.

how many countries have a gaokao exam?

In South Korea, the Gaokao equivalent is called the “College Scholastic Ability Test” (CSAT). It is held on the second Thursday of November each year. On that day, if you walk on the streets of South Korea, you will witness a large group of students wearing school uniforms marching towards the examination centers. There will also be a larger crowd of family and friends holding banners, singing loudly, and offering support. Some people may even kneel on the ground or parents may faint on the spot due to the intense emotions. The atmosphere throughout South Korea is filled with tension. The significance of this “life-determining” examination is so immense that the entire country supports it. Military training is postponed, flight schedules are adjusted, traffic is controlled, and even the US military stationed in South Korea makes way for the exam. It is not just a mere test; it feels more like a nuclear war.

In Japan, the high school entrance exam is a significant event. Japan is a highly stratified society where academic qualifications directly influence the quality of one’s occupation and salary. The Japanese government and top companies often recruit exclusively from prestigious universities such as the University of Tokyo. In order to achieve excellent results, examinees and their parents strictly adhere to the principle of “four being present and five being absent”: if they study hard and sleep for only four hours a day, they may get into university, but if they sleep for one more hour, reducing it to five hours a day, they may fail. Therefore, the competition in Japanese exams is extremely fierce, earning it the nickname “examination hell.” Japanese students participate in the “Center Test,” which is similar to China’s Gaokao, at the end of January each year, and then they apply to universities based on their scores and take individual exams conducted by each university.

Other countries that have their own versions of “high-stakes exams” include:

India: In India, there is no nationwide standardized exam. Each university conducts its own entrance exams, which usually take place between April and June each year. During the high exam season in India, you can often see examinees sleeping on the floor of train stations. For them, the high-stakes exams are like a pilgrimage on the road. To ensure admission to universities, many students travel to different locations to take exams, sometimes appearing for as few as four or five exams, while others may take more than 20 exams. Although there is no unified exam, the competition is intense in India, given its large population. In order to outperform their numerous competitors, students face immense pressure. Similar to China, India also witnesses a proliferation of various coaching classes and centers.

Singapore: The high-stakes exam in Singapore is known as the “Singapore-Cambridge General Certificate of Education Advanced Level Examination” (GCE A-Level). It is a unified exam jointly organized by the Ministry of Education, Singapore, and the University of Cambridge International Examinations. It is taken by high school (Junior College) students in Singapore after two or three years of high school education. The exam is held once a year.

Iran: In Iran, the high-stakes exam is a significant hurdle for all students. Iran has only 54 public universities and some public medical schools, which have limited capacity. The admission rate to top public universities is as low as 5%. In the eyes of Iranians, public universities are a much better choice in terms of tuition fees and teaching quality compared to private universities. The Iranian high-stakes exam covers multiple subjects, including language, Islamic religious doctrine, mathematics, English, and additional exams based on students’ preferences, such as biology, chemistry, physics, history, and geography. Interestingly, Iranian candidates can select up to 100 preferences based on the exams they choose.

Kenya: In Kenya, a country in Africa, the high-stakes exam takes place at the end of October and continues until mid-November. Examinees are required to take exams in approximately 22 subjects, although not all subjects are compulsory. Besides the mandatory subjects, they only need to take exams in their chosen elective subjects. The admission rate to universities in Kenya is very low. Out of over 200,000 candidates who take the high-stakes exam, only around 10,000 may secure admission to public universities.

Russia: Since 2009, Russia has implemented a nationwide unified exam called the “Unified State Exam” (EGE). The exam takes place from late May to mid-June, with exams for different subjects scheduled every few days. Universities are required to admit students based on their EGE scores, and most universities no longer conduct additional exams. However, some top-tier universities may still have supplementary exams for certain majors.

France: In France, high school students must first obtain a high school diploma issued by their school, and then they participate in the “Baccalauréat” (or “Bac”) exam. The Bac is a nationwide exam held once a year and is divided into two main categories: general series (L, ES, S) and technological series. This exam is necessary for French high school students to enter universities for further studies.

gaokao vs neet

The Gaokao and NEET are two different concepts related to education and employment in China and Japan, respectively. Here’s a brief comparison between the two:


Gaokao, also known as the National College Entrance Examination, is a standardized test in China.

It is taken by high school students seeking admission to undergraduate programs in Chinese universities.

Gaokao covers subjects such as Chinese, mathematics, foreign languages, and sciences.

The scores obtained in Gaokao play a crucial role in determining university admissions and future career prospects.

Gaokao is a highly competitive exam with significant societal importance in China.


NEET stands for “Not in Education, Employment, or Training.”

It is a term commonly used in Japan and other countries to refer to young individuals who are unemployed and not engaged in any form of education or training.

NEET individuals may have completed their education but struggle to find suitable employment or have chosen not to pursue further studies.

The term NEET is used to describe the social and economic issue of youth unemployment and disengagement.

The Japanese government and organizations implement initiatives to support NEET individuals and encourage their participation in the workforce or education and training programs.

It’s important to note that Gaokao and NEET refer to different aspects of education and employment and are specific to their respective countries. The Gaokao is an entrance examination for university admissions in China, while NEET is a term used to describe a particular group of young people who are not in education, employment, or training, primarily in Japan.

gaokao vs suneung

Gaokao and Suneung are both important standardized exams in their respective countries, China and South Korea. Here’s a comparison between the two:

Gaokao (China):

Gaokao, also known as the National College Entrance Examination, is the standardized test in China for admission to undergraduate programs in Chinese universities.

It is taken by high school students at the end of their senior year.

Gaokao covers subjects such as Chinese, mathematics, foreign languages, and sciences.

The scores obtained in Gaokao play a significant role in determining university admissions and future career prospects.

Gaokao is known for its high competitiveness and immense societal pressure on students.

Suneung (South Korea):

Suneung, also known as the College Scholastic Ability Test, is the national standardized test in South Korea for college admissions.

It is taken by high school seniors.

Suneung covers subjects such as Korean language, mathematics, English, social studies, and science.

The scores obtained in Suneung are used by universities in South Korea as a key factor in the admissions process.

Suneung is also highly competitive, and there is significant societal importance placed on the exam.

While both Gaokao and Suneung are important exams for college admissions, there are some differences in terms of subjects covered and the specific educational systems in China and South Korea. However, both exams carry substantial weight in determining a student’s future educational and career opportunities.

gaokao vs sat reddit

Comparing Gaokao and SAT on Reddit can provide a range of perspectives and experiences from individuals who have taken or have knowledge about both exams. Here’s a summary of some common points mentioned on Reddit:

Structure and Content:

Gaokao: Redditors often highlight that Gaokao is a much longer and more comprehensive exam compared to the SAT. It covers a wide range of subjects including Chinese, mathematics, foreign languages, and sciences, with a strong emphasis on memorization and application of knowledge.

SAT: Redditors mention that the SAT is shorter in duration and focuses on critical reading, writing, and mathematics skills. It is generally perceived as a more analytical and reasoning-based exam.

Cultural Differences:

Gaokao: Many Redditors mention the intense pressure and societal significance associated with Gaokao in China. The exam is considered a make-or-break moment and can heavily impact a student’s future opportunities and social standing.

SAT: Redditors often note that the SAT is significant for college admissions in the United States but does not carry the same level of societal pressure as Gaokao in China.

Preparation and Study Approach:

Gaokao: Redditors mention that Gaokao preparation in China typically involves rigorous studying, including attending extra classes, extensive practice exams, and intense competition among students.

SAT: Redditors often discuss various study resources, strategies, and practice materials available for SAT preparation, including self-study, tutoring, and online resources.

Admissions and Influence:

Gaokao: Redditors highlight that Gaokao is the primary determinant for university admissions in China, and the scores obtained directly impact a student’s chances of getting into prestigious institutions.

SAT: Redditors mention that while the SAT is an important factor for college admissions in the US, it is considered alongside other aspects such as GPA, extracurricular activities, essays, and recommendation letters.

It’s important to note that these points represent general observations from Reddit discussions and individual experiences. The opinions and perspectives shared on Reddit can vary, so it’s always recommended to gather information from multiple sources for a comprehensive understanding.

gaokao vs ib

When comparing Gaokao and the International Baccalaureate (IB) program, there are several key differences that are often discussed. Here are some points that are commonly mentioned:

Structure and Curriculum:

Gaokao: Gaokao is a standardized national examination in China that primarily focuses on testing knowledge and retention of subjects such as Chinese language, mathematics, foreign languages, and sciences. It is a single examination taken at the end of high school.

IB: The IB program is an internationally recognized education program that offers a comprehensive curriculum over two years of high school. It includes a wide range of subjects across disciplines, including languages, sciences, humanities, mathematics, and the arts. Students are assessed through internal coursework, exams, and extended essays.

Assessment and Grading:

Gaokao: Gaokao is a high-stakes examination with a heavy emphasis on rote memorization and performance on a single test. The scores obtained in Gaokao play a significant role in determining university admissions in China.

IB: The IB program uses a holistic approach to assessment, considering coursework, internal assessments, and final exams. Students are graded on a scale from 1 to 7 for each subject, with additional points available for the completion of the Extended Essay and the Theory of Knowledge course. IB grades are considered for university admissions globally.

Focus and Skills Development:

Gaokao: Gaokao is often criticized for its focus on memorization and rote learning, with less emphasis on critical thinking, creativity, and independent research skills.

IB: The IB program aims to develop well-rounded students with strong critical thinking, research, and communication skills. It encourages students to think critically, engage in independent research, and explore interdisciplinary connections.

Global Recognition:

Gaokao: Gaokao is specific to China and is primarily recognized within the country’s education system. Its scores are used for university admissions in China.

IB: The IB program is recognized and respected worldwide, with a network of IB schools and universities that acknowledge its rigorous curriculum. IB scores are considered by universities in many countries for admissions.

It’s important to note that Gaokao and the IB program have different objectives and target different educational contexts. Gaokao is a standardized national examination in China, while the IB program is an international education program offered in various countries. The choice between Gaokao and the IB program depends on individual circumstances, educational goals, and future aspirations.

gaokao vs imperial examination

Gaokao and the Imperial Examination (Keju) are two distinct examination systems used in different periods of Chinese history. Here are some key differences between them:

Historical Context:

Imperial Examination: The Imperial Examination system was established during the Sui Dynasty (581-618) and lasted until the late Qing Dynasty (1644-1912). It was a civil service examination system used to select government officials in imperial China.

Gaokao: Gaokao is a modern examination system introduced in the 20th century. It is the national college entrance examination in China, used to determine university admissions for high school graduates.

Purpose and Scope:

Imperial Examination: The Imperial Examination system aimed to select and appoint officials for the government bureaucracy. It tested candidates on their knowledge of Confucian classics, poetry, essays, and policy-making skills. The examination emphasized Confucian values and knowledge of traditional Chinese culture.

Gaokao: Gaokao focuses on assessing students’ knowledge and skills in subjects such as Chinese language, mathematics, foreign languages, and sciences. Its primary purpose is to determine students’ eligibility for university admission.

Format and Administration:

Imperial Examination: The Imperial Examination had a hierarchical structure with several levels of examinations, including the county, provincial, and palace examinations. It consisted of written exams, including essay writing and poetry composition, as well as oral exams.

Gaokao: Gaokao is a single examination conducted nationwide on the same day. It is a standardized multiple-choice test that covers various subjects. The format and content of the exam are determined by the Chinese Ministry of Education.

Social Impact:

Imperial Examination: The Imperial Examination system had a significant impact on Chinese society, as it provided a pathway for social mobility and offered opportunities for individuals from lower social classes to gain prestigious positions in the government. However, it was criticized for promoting a narrow focus on Confucian learning and creating an elitist bureaucracy.

Gaokao: Gaokao is considered a crucial event in the lives of Chinese students and their families. It has a profound influence on students’ educational and career prospects. Gaokao scores heavily influence university admissions and are seen as a reflection of an individual’s academic ability and potential for future success.

While both the Imperial Examination and Gaokao are examination systems used in China, they differ significantly in their historical context, purpose, scope, and administration. The Imperial Examination focused on selecting government officials based on Confucian learning, while Gaokao determines university admissions based on a broader range of subjects.

gaokao vs civil service examination

Gaokao and Civil Service Examinations are two different examination systems used in China. Here are some key differences between them:

Purpose and Scope:

Civil Service Examinations: Civil Service Examinations, also known as Imperial Examinations or Keju, were used in imperial China to select officials for the government bureaucracy. These exams aimed to identify individuals with the knowledge of Confucian classics and administrative abilities to serve in various government positions.

Gaokao: Gaokao is the modern national college entrance examination in China. Its primary purpose is to determine the eligibility of high school graduates for admission to universities and colleges. Gaokao assesses students’ knowledge and skills in subjects such as Chinese language, mathematics, foreign languages, and sciences.

Historical Context:

Civil Service Examinations: Civil Service Examinations were established during the Sui Dynasty (581-618) and lasted until the early 20th century. These examinations played a crucial role in the imperial examination system, selecting officials based on Confucian learning and bureaucratic skills.

Gaokao: Gaokao was introduced in the late 1970s as part of China’s educational reforms. It was developed in response to the need for a fair and standardized system to determine university admissions based on academic performance.

Format and Administration:

Civil Service Examinations: Civil Service Examinations had a hierarchical structure with multiple levels, including the county, provincial, and palace examinations. These exams involved rigorous written tests on Confucian classics, poetry, essays, and policy-making skills. They also included oral exams.

Gaokao: Gaokao is a single examination conducted nationwide on the same day. It is a standardized multiple-choice test that covers various subjects. The format and content of the exam are determined by the Chinese Ministry of Education.

Scope of Influence:

Civil Service Examinations: Civil Service Examinations had a profound impact on Chinese society. Success in these exams allowed individuals to attain prestigious government positions, gain social status, and enjoy various privileges. The examination system played a crucial role in shaping the imperial bureaucracy.

Gaokao: Gaokao is a significant event in the lives of Chinese students and their families. The results of Gaokao heavily influence university admissions, which in turn impacts students’ educational and career prospects. Gaokao scores are seen as a reflection of academic ability and often carry high stakes in terms of future opportunities.

While both the Civil Service Examinations and Gaokao are examination systems used in China, they differ in their historical context, purpose, scope, and administration. Civil Service Examinations focused on selecting officials based on Confucian knowledge and administrative skills, while Gaokao determines university admissions based on a broader range of academic subjects.


The Gaokao exam holds immense importance in the educational landscape of China. It is a defining moment for millions of students, representing years of hard work and dedication. While it serves as a means of evaluating academic abilities, the Gaokao exam also reflects the intense pressure and aspirations ingrained in Chinese society. As China continues to evolve its education system, finding a balance between academic excellence and overall development remains a key challenge, ensuring that the Gaokao exam is a fair and accurate reflection of students’ potential and capabilities.

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