Thursday, June 6, 2013

Think Utme is hard? Then u haven't heard of the gaokao

On average about 9.2 million Chinese high-school students take nine hours of tests that will determine where they go to university. Taxis will be ordered to be silent near testing centers and construction crews will be sent home. To prevent cheating via listening devices, schools in the northeast would have installed metal detectors and warned female students that even bras with metal clips will be confiscated.
China’s national college entrance exam, or the gaokao, is criticized for how much stress it causes. Nervous breakdowns and suicides aren’t uncommon—students have been in cram classes, often for more than 10 hours straight over the past year. But it’s even more stressful for students from rural parts of the country who need to score especially high to get into one of the top universities. China’s best schools like Peking University and Tsinghua in Beijing, or Fudan University in Shanghai, for example, give preference to students who have resident status in those cities and take the exam locally.
Taken across three consecutive days at the beginning of June, the gaokao covers three mandatory subjects—Chinese,Mathematics,and a foreign language, usually English—and three other topics drawn from a pool of electives: Physics, Chemistry and Biology for science track students,and History, Geography and Political Education for those on the humanities track.
Yes, you have to decide what track you're on before taking the gaokao, because its outcome will, quite literally, determine your fate: There are minimum gaokao levels required to attend each of China’s 2000 or so colleges,and only about two-thirds as many available admissions slots as test-takers.
Sliding into the lower third of marks means, at a minimum,losing a year and going through the whole horrible experience of cramming all over again. At worst, it means dropping the dream of college and taking a low-paying, dead-end manufacturing or service job, or turning to a junior college to learn basic vocational skills.
But for those who do well, the gaokao is life-altering. Being among the 8.5 percent of test-takers who score high enough to qualify for one of China’s yiben , or tier-one universities,means reasonable assurance of eventual high-paying white-collar employment,there by securing a stable financial future for generations above and below alike.
For the less than half a per cent that score well enough to qualify for “China’s Ivy League,”the schools dubbed the “C9” — led by Peking University and Tsinghua University(often called the “Harvard” and “Yale” of China, though you might just as well say that Harvard and Yale are the Beida and Tsinghua of America) — they’re virtually guaranteed a prime spot in government or a state-owned enterprise upon graduation. And that,in turn, offers a path not just to security, but to real wealth…by methods both legit and illicit.
All of this means that,for poor households,the 30 percent of China’s population living on less than $2 a day, the gaokao is like a lottery ticket — but one whose rewards come not by chance,but through blood, sweat,tears and toil. For them, gaokao doesn’t translate as “high exam,” it translates as “test you must pass so your life won’t suck.” It’s considered China's great equalizer, as can be seen from the motivational slogan posted in many high school classrooms:“Without gaokao, how can you beat the children of the rich?”
So students study for gaokao their entire senior year, learning nothing new and merely cramming on knowledge that's necessary for the test.
“For the whole year, your sole goal, ten hours a day, is to prepare for those three days of testing,” says Bai. “You’ll go to class,and your teachers will tell you to cross out whole sections of textbook content because it's not tested in gaokao. You don’t even learn that content.It’s not considered important.”
In the weeks leading up to the exam, students sometimes go without food or sleep; there are frequent reports of students using IVs for nutrition so they don’t have to stop cramming. Anything that might impair performances simply removed from reality: This year, a boy’s parents where in a car accident,killing his mother and critically injuring his father — and his relatives and teachers conspired to keep the news from him for nearly two weeks, until after he’d completed the gaokao. News reports also told of a girl in Changsha in Hunan province, whose mother was hit by a car an hour before the test; police and witnesses urged her to go to the exam, and she ended up not visiting her in the hospital until the next day. Both parents,and nota few online commentators, thought she did the right thing.
Here are a couple of questions.
List ‘pi’ up to as many decimal points as you can. [20 marks]
Celebrate any dynasty from the following (Han/Song/Ming), then explain how much better things are today. [60 marks]
Boss Li has four factories making electronic parts. He smokes 40 cigarettes a day but usually gifts a box of 400 Chunghwas to his local inspector when they meet every month to discuss safety standards. His wife has a taste for expensive French clothes and Boss Li has two daughters who intend to study overseas.
His workers are unhappy, however, over Corporate’s decision to send a dispute resolution ‘baseball team’ to the family of a worker needing compensation for the arms she lost in a mechanical accident last year.
With a strike looming, the local environment bureau is also asking awkward questions about why Boss Li didn’t consult them before dumping toxins at a local beauty spot and his favorite mistress is demanding a new Jeep Cherokee. How big is Boss Li’s stability maintenance fee this year? [10 marks]
A 70-year-old grandpa in a rural village would like to donate his house to a local developer, who has good friendship with the municipal boss, county vice-magistrate, and a regent at a university who is a Partycadre. How far away, in kilometers, from the city center can the grandpa expect his new home to be located? [20 marks]

No comments:

Post a Comment