Related News

Home » Nation

10 million sit China's college entrance exams amid cheating, flu concerns

MORE than 10 million Chinese high school students today started their three-day "battle to determine their fate," as the national college entrance exam is commonly known, amid concerns over flu and test cheating.

Although the number of candidates was down 3.8 percent from last year, the first decline in seven years, the college entrance examination, or "gaokao", is still the world's largest.

The fiercely competitive annual examination is widely regarded as the make-or-break test for university admission by the Chinese.


Across China, parents prayed outside more than 8,000 test centers.

Although this year's admission rate is around 62 percent, 12 times higher than in 1977 when China resumed the college entrance exams after the 10-year-long Cultural Revolution, competition is still fierce.

"It was like thousands of people squeezed on to a narrow bridge where only a few could get to the other side 20 years ago when I sat the exam," said Zhang Xiuqing, a father waiting for his daughter outside a test center in downtown Beijing.

"Now it's the same because everyone wants to enter prestigious universities like Peking and Tsinghua," he said.

In a country where a college diploma can help secure a decent job, the annual college entrance exam is considered decisive in determining a student's future career opportunities.

However, at least 1 million graduates of the 5.6 million fresh out of university in 2008 failed to find employment as the job market shrank because of the global economic downturn.

They joined graduates from previous years who were still unemployed.

But still Zhang believed odds were still better for them than for those with no university qualifications.

"Whenever it is, success in the gaokao is a key to social mobility in China," he said.


After a rise in the number of A/H1N1 flu cases, China's education authorities laid out a national prevention plan to ensure the virus did not disrupt the annual exam.

Dai Jiagan, director of the National Educational Examination Administration, said Wednesday that the plan covered exam preparation, implementation and emergency response.

"We have based the plan on our experience of handling SARS in 2003," he said. "The exam must be safe and fair, and the government has the duty to protect its security."

Each exam room is disinfected twice a day and every examinee is required to have their body temperature measured before entering the rooms.

"I guess it will make me a little more nervous because I'm used to having my temperature measured only in hospital," said Li Hui before entering the exam center in Guangzhou. "But I totally understand it."

Separate exam rooms have been prepared for the exam takers showing flu and fever symptoms. As of this morning, no such rooms had been used.


However, the biggest fear for examinees and their parents is cheating.

China's media have uncovered a series of cheating scams, ranging from identity theft to the use of high-tech communications equipment.

Advertisements on the Internet offering purported test answers or devices to help obtain answers can be easily found.

"It is the most unfair thing in the world for a student who has devoted 12 years to preparing for the exam to be beaten by those using illegal methods," said Li Xiang, a father sitting outside a test center in the eastern Jiangsu Province.

The Ministry of Public Security has urged police to be on high alert for any cheating and the Ministry of Education has reiterated its warning to examinees and their parents avoid being tricked by offers of supposed answers or advice from people claiming to know what is on the test.

"The exams must be absolutely fair," said Dai Jiagan.

"If my son fails the exam, I want him to fail fair and square," said Li Xiang. "What I can do is pray that my son is not the victim of test cheating."


Copyright © 1999- Shanghai Daily. All rights reserved.Preferably viewed with Internet Explorer 8 or newer browsers.

沪公网安备 31010602000204号

Email this to your friend