China's university entrance exam is nearly impossible to pass

Mimi Launder
Tuesday 14 November 2017 12:15
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Picture:(Getty Images / AFP / Stringer)

The gaokao is a notoriously tough exam in China; it last two days, it is impossible to get full marks and it can determine your opportunities in life.

Millions of students take this college entrance exam over two days in June every year. Meanwhile, China comes to a standstill with construction work halted near exam halls and police patrol to ensure quiet.

Writing one UCAS statement for a bunch of Universities doesn't seem so demanding now, when the top Universities in China have been known to select only 1 in 50,000 students.

The four, three-hour papers cover Chinese, English, maths and a choice of either sciences or humanities.

Here are some questions from the infamous test in 2015.

And this is a maths question for humanities students.

Given f (x) = sinx - (2sqrt(3))(sin^2(pi/2)):

A) Find f(x)’s smallest positive revolution;

B) Find f(x)’s smallest value, given that the period is [0,2pi/3].

The answer is A) 2pi and B) -sqrt(3).

But most intimidating for many students is the infuriating essay portion of the exam.

For example, do butterfly wings have colours?

For what object do you have a 'passion deep in the soul?' You can choose a plant, an animal or a utensil to write about.

Who do you admire the most? A biotechnology researcher, a welding engineering technician or a photographer?

And: The containers for milk are always square boxes; containers for mineral water are always round bottles; round wine bottles are usually placed in square boxes. Write a composition on the subtle philosophy of the round and square.

Though students in China are regularly praised by the rest of the world for a seemingly faultless education, the gaokao remains controversial in China.

It is a tough, often unforgiving time for students, parents and teachers. Drones are sometimes deployed to catch cheaters who face jailed for the crime, while the single-minded focus on marks can often see students crumbling under the pressure.

HT BuzzFeed The Guardian

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