Gaokao Essay Prompts Baffle Students

Some students taking this year’s college entrance exam, the gaokao, were perplexed by questions posed on the Chinese language section.  These questions vary by province and generated widespread discussion due to their weight on the final subject score.  The Global Times reports:

Students in Hunan Province were most perplexed by the two choices they were given Friday morning. The first topic was stated as, “It flies upward, and a voice asks if it is tired. It says ‘No’.”

The second said, “A father is cutting articles out of a newspaper while his child embraces him and says, ‘I’m willing to accompany you just like this.'”

“This is insane. Can somebody please tell me what these two topics are supposed to mean?” asked one Web user. [Source]

Other topics highlighted themes of technological innovation, charity, and living a balanced life.  The People’s Daily reports that in Liaoning Province, students answered an allegorical question titled “Sand and Pearl”:

[…] A young man was depressed as his career stagnated. He met an old man by the seashore. The old man grabbed a handful of sands and threw them on the seashore, then asked him, “Can you find them?” The young men said no. Then the old man threw a pearl on seashore, and asked him the same question again. The young man said yes. Then he had an epiphany: one should be something different before he got recognition. [Source]

The Global Times has challenged its readers to respond to the same essay prompts from this year’s exam as part of a contest called “So you think you’re smarter than a Chinese high school student?”:

Over 9 million Chinese high school seniors take the most important test of their lives on June 7. Experience all the pain and glory by taking a crack at our Gaokao Mini-Essay Contest during June 7 to June 16 on Sina Weibo and Facebook. There’s no character limit, so go nuts. Post as much as it takes for you to get your point across in our Facebook page, and cross your fingers. Winners will be announced on June 20, keep checking our Facebook page and Weibo account for updates! [Source]

Salon Magazine described this year’s essay prompts as ranging from the “literary to the philisophical or even downright cryptic.”

Read more about the gaokao via CDT.


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