Advice to ‘gaokao’ candidates from parent of former examinee
Published: Jun 07, 2023 10:52 PM
Illustration: Hang Dachuan/Global Times

Illustration: Hang Dachuan/Global Times

Throughout China, the country's national college entrance examinations, or gaokao, are being held on Wednesday or Thursday. This once-a-year event is making thousands of examinees panic as it is a crucial moment in their lives. As a former examinee and the parent of a student who took the exam five years ago, I am more than familiar with this experience myself. 

This feeling is quite understandable because the gaokao is really a "test" of all your efforts over the past 18 years. As a parent who accompanied my kid throughout the entire process in 2018, I want to share my thoughts and give some advice to you. 

First, you should know how the gaokao has developed over the past few decades. When my daughter was about to take her exams five years ago, I often compared her experience with my time in the 1980s. The Chinese national college entrance exam system resumed in 1977. When I took the exams, it was still in the early period after China' reform and opening-up, so there were no modern facilities or considerate social assistance when it came to the exam schedule, test sites, transportation, security and medical care, unlike what we see today. In 2018, the exams were rescheduled to June instead of July and the test sites were air-conditioned. 

Second, don't worry too much about not getting into a university. I remember in the mid-1980s, the gaokao was often regarded as "thousands of army soldiers and horses going across a single-log bridge" as only a very small proportion of candidates could go to college. But in 2018, the college admission rate largely expanded, reaching 80 percent of the applicants. This means many more students had the opportunity to attend college, all thanks to measures starting in 1999 that helped expand the admission rate.

So, if you are lucky enough to get your wish, make sure you take the opportunity to learn professional knowledge and skills, and get ready for your career in the future. 

Third, keep in mind that even if you can manage to go to university, you may still face employment challenges after graduation. According to reports, the unemployment rate reached 20.4 percent in April, surpassing 20 percent for the first time since 2018. However, this status quo should never be an excuse for students to not work hard. The spirit of perseverance and tenacity as well as the problem-solving abilities you will have obtained during your studies will become lifelong treasures. No matter what you do in the future, this will guarantee you can tackle more challenges in the days ahead.