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Edit Title:[HugChina] National Obsession in Higher Education Entrance Examination
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Bernd Chang
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The Chinese National Higher Education Entrance Examination, or National College Entrance Examination, or commonly known as Gao Kao (高考), is an academic examination held annually in the mainland China. This examination is a prerequisite for entrance into almost all higher education institutions at the undergraduate level.

The Chinese National Higher Education Entrance Examination, or National College Entrance Examination, or commonly known as Gao Kao (高考), is an academic examination held annually in the mainland of the People's Republic of China. This examination is a prerequisite for entrance into almost all higher education institutions at the undergraduate level. It is usually taken by students in their last year of high school, although there has been no age restriction since 2001.

The overall mark received by the student is generally a weighted sum of their subject marks. The maximum possible mark varies wildly from year to year and also varies from province to province.

Tertiary education entrance examinations started in the early years when modern universities emerged in China, and continued after the foundation of the People's Republic of China in 1949 until the Cultural Revolution began in 1966 when the normal pace of the education system and other sectors of life were disrupted.

The unified national college entrance examination in 1952 marked the start of reform of National Matriculation Tests (NMT) Policies in the newly established PRC. On July 1966, the NMT was officially canceled and substituted by a new admission policy of recommending workers, farmers and soldiers to college. During the next ten years, the Down to the Countryside Movement, initiated by Mao Zedong, forced both senior and junior secondary school graduates, the so-called "intellectual youths", to go to the country and work as farmers in the villages.

In late 1977, Deng Xiaoping, then under Hua Guofeng, the heir apparent of Mao, officially resumed the traditional examination based on academics, the National Higher Education Entrance Examination, which has continued to the present day.

The first such examination after the Cultural Revolution took place in late 1977 and was a history-making event. There was no limit on the age and official educational background of examinees. The total number of candidate students for the national college entrance exam in 1977 was as many as 5.7 million, the admission ratio of 4.8% was the lowest in the history of the PRC, with only 272,971 students being admitted.

Starting from 1978, the examination was uniformly designed by the Ministry of Education and all the students across the country took the exact same examination. Later the ministry of education allow individual provinces to customize their own exams.Till now, there have been 16 provinces and municipalities adopting customized exams.

The National Higher Education Entrance Examination is graded variously across the country. It is arranged at the end of the spring semester and secondary school graduates across the country take the examination simultaneously over a three day period. Prior to 2003, the examination was held in July from 7 to 9, but has since been moved to the month of June. This move was made in consideration of the adverse effects of hot weather on students living in southern China and possible flooding during the rainy season in July.

Since 1977 when the Gao Kao was resumed after the cultural revolution, the enrollment has kept a steady increase year by year. In 1999, China started a great-leap forward in the higher education, aiming to offer higher eduction as a universal education for the public. That year, the enrollment in Chinese higher eduction institutions jumped by almost 50% from 1.08 million to 1.6 million. In 2008, the enrollment stood at 6 million, six times that of a decade ago. Accordingly, the admission ratio has kept rising. In 2011, the total number of admitted is planned to be 6.75 million, while the total registered participants stood at 9.33 million. Accordingly the admission ratio 72% has broken a new record in Chinese higher eduction history.

According to Chinese Ministry of Education, the coverage rate for higher eduction in China was 26.5% in 2010, which means more than one in four person aged between 18 - 22 are studying in higher education institutions. In 1977, the coverage rate was estimated to be slightly more than 1%. China expects the higher education coverage rate will be about 35% in 2015.

The number of registered parcipants in Kao Gao peaked in 2008 at a record 10.5 million. The number decreased then year by year thanks to China's rigid one-child birth control policy.

The respective number of participants, enrollment, and admission ratio since 1977 are listed below.

Year Number of participants (10 thousand) No. of admitted (10 thousand) Admission ratio (%)
1977 570 27.3 4.79
1978 610 40.2 6.59
1979 468.5 28.4 6.06
1980 333 28 8.41
1981 259 28 10.81
1982 187 32 17.11
1983 167 39 23.35
1984 164 48 29.27
1985 176 62 35.23
1986 191 57 29.84
1987 228 62 27.19
1988 272 67 24.63
1989 266 40 15.04
1990 283 61 21.55
1991 296 62 20.95
1992 303 75 24.75
1993 286 98 34.27
1994 251 90 35.86
1995 253 93 36.76
1996 241 97 40.25
1997 278 100 35.97
1998 320 108 33.75
1999 288 160 55.56
2000 375 221 58.93
2001 454 260 57.27
2002 527 320 60.72
2003 613 382 62.32
2004 729 447 61.32
2005 877 504 57.47
2006 950 546 57.47
2007 1010 567 56.14
2008 1050 599 57.05
2009 1020 629 61.67
2010 947 657 69.38
2011 933 675 72.35

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Bernd Chang
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On the afternoon of June 8,2011, outside the exam site The 50th Middle School of Beijing, a student girl huged her mother after finishing the last test.

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On June 7, 2011, in front of the examination site Yulin Middle School of Chengdu City, the students put on a red rope as a good luck wish on the hand for each other.

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。On the evening of June 6,2005, Chengguan, or city administrative officers in Chaoyang District of Beijing were checking the construction sites and prohibit construction companies from working after 22 'oclock. The purpose was to create an tranquil environment for the high middle school students so that they can sleep well.

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Bernd Chang
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On July 7, 2002, 20 years old Liu Tao, with hands amputated after an accident, took part in Gao Kao in the exam site The 55th Middle School of Tianjin. For him, this examination was very precious. He had made much more efforts than a normal person for the examination. And in the end, Liu Tao scored 569 points out of a possible 750 and was admitted by Tianjin Financial College.

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Bernd Chang
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On June 7, 2011, the 2011 National Higher Eduction Examination took place nationwide. In the Taiyuan 15th middle school chosen as an examination site, students were entering the examination rooms. Outside, family members, the number of whom was several times of that of the students, were waiting anxious. Police, taxis, doctors were deployed as a security measure.

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Bernd Chang
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Families pull out all the stops to optimize their children’s scores. In May 2010, students In Sichuan Province in southwestern China studied in a hospital, hooked up to oxygen containers, in hopes of improving their concentration.

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Bernd Chang
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On June 2, 2011, a pair of glasses and a pile of books were lying on the desks in a classroom for grade three students of a high middle school in Zhuji City of Zhejiang Province. With the nearing of the Gao Kao, every student feels even growing pressure. For most of them, higher eduction is the only way to change their social and economic status. And Gao Kao will determine if they can get higher education and how good the higher eduction will be offered to them.

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Bernd Chang
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On June 6, 2010, in a temple in Nanjing, a grade three high middle school student prayed for good luck in the coming China's college entrance examination, or Gao Kao is possibly the examination that exert highest pressure on the participants in the world. Nearly 10 million students go over their lessons for an entire year just for the examination devided in four sessions and which lasts for only 2 days.

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Bernd Chang
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On June 1, 2010, in a classroom for grade three students in Jiaxin Experimental Middle School, the teacher was helping the students to review and complement knowledge necessory for the forthcoming Gao Kao. Each teacher at that moment wishes that they could cram all materials into the brain of his/her students.

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Bernd Chang
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On the evening of October 14, 2008, a high middle school was still lighted like day in Hefei of Anhui Province. All the textbook lessons were finished for the grade three students and they had begun to prepare for the Gao Kao coming in 8 months.

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Bernd Chang
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On the morning of June 7, 2003, outside of an exmination site in Hubei Province, when the students racked their brains for the examination papers, their parents were waiting as anxious as their children. Gao Kao, in the eyes of every parents, is a most important key point on the growing-up way of their children.

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Bernd Chang
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At 17:14, June 8, 2011, at the examination site Wuchang Experimental Middle School in Wuhan City, the students dashed to the cord line after finished all the tests that lasted for two days.

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Bernd Chang
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On June 7, 2011, outside an examination site in Changchun, a mother was praying for good luck for her child.

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Bernd Chang
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On May 25, 2010, the grade three students in Qingdao Third Middle School were burning the midnight oil for the coming higher eduction entry test.

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Bernd Chang
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"I am happy to experience the Gao Kao. I think Gao Kao is a very good chance of practice for us. It is not only a test for my academic level, but also an ordeal for the patience and perseverance. The next time when I take an exam, I will not be burdened down any more". An examinee said.

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Bernd Chang
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On June 7, 2011, on the first day of this year's Gao Kao, students were doing the exam paper. The number of participants peaked in 2008 at a record 10.5 million, and decreased then year by year while the enrollment has kept expanding. The admission ratio increased accordingly. In 2011, the number of registered participants stood at 9.33 million and the enrollment was 6.75 million. The admission ratio has rose to the highest level 72% from a beginning 4.8% within three decades.

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Bernd Chang
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On May 24,2011, in the Second Middle School of Quanzhou County of Guangxi, the grade three students were saving each minute to review the lessons and prepare for the coming Gao Kao. Generally, Chinese parents hope their sons to become dragon, daughter to become pheonix and pay even greater attention to the education chances of their children. Gao Kao is not only the realization of dreams for the students, but also for their parents.

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Bernd Chang
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On June 2, 2011, a 'throwing off examination paper ceremony" was held in High Middle School of Shenzhen. Approximately 150,000 examination paper sheets were throwed off from floors of the teaching building. All the students in the school were cheering up for the grade three students.

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Bernd Chang
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Each year in the early summer, China's college entrance examination gets national obsession. After one year of efforts, nearly 10 milliion Chinese high middle school students take part in the examination which will possibly determine their future. The entire society is full of anxiety.

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Bernd Chang
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Since 1977, the enrollment in higher eduction has kept a steady increase year by year. In 1999, China started a great-leap forward in the higher education, aiming to offer higher eduction as a universal education for the public. In 2008, the enrollment stood at 6 million, six times that of a decade ago. Accordingly, the admission ratio has kept rising. In 2011, the admission ratio 72% has broken a new record in Chinese higher eduction history.

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