Stressful Times for Chinese Students – Benjamin Siegel

From Time:

For Huang Zhimin, a senior at Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou, China, there was only one way out of the small town in Guangxi where he was raised: three days in the summer of 2004 in a stuffy city testing center, sweating over China’s National College Entrance Examination ” or gaokao, as the test is known. “I’m the first in my entire family to go to college,” says Huang, “and the gaokao was incredibly high-pressure.”

This year, close to ten million Chinese sat for the gaokao (“big test” in Mandarin), starting June 8. who perform superlatively can expect to be courted by the nation’s top schools; the rest find spots in provincial universities or two- and three-year colleges. For the forty percent of test-takers who fail, there’s always next year ” or enrollment at one of China’s less-selective private institutions. As China’s economy booms, job competition has become ferocious ” and the pressure to land a prestigious degree can be unbearable. Every year, Chinese newspapers fill up with tragic tales of exam-time suicides. “The gaokao is about the most pressure-packed examination in the world,” says Ari Wolfe, an English teacher in Guangzhou who tutored for last weekend’s exam, “given the numbers, the repercussions, and the stress involved.” [Full Text]

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