China’s Gaokao Exam Questions – In Praise of China

China’s Gaokao Exam Questions

Ten million Chinese youngsters will take the gaokao exam this year. In one form or another, China has been holding the Gaokao (高考) – college entrance/civil service exam – for almost 1,800 years.  Many of the kids come from the best school systems in the world, like Shanghai’s, which has more students in school than many countries have citizens, and the questions are tough. What kinds of questions? Here’s a sample of the essay questions from regions around China, translated By Daniel Zhang.


“In the old days, there were many old rules and codes of conduct, like speaking in a quiet and gentle voice, greeting elder people on sight, and standing or sitting straight up. Recently, some people online shared these “old rules” that parents used to require them to obey, a topic which became widely discussed among Chinese netizens.  Plan and write your understanding on this phenomenon.”


“You can choose your own road and method to make it across the desert, which means you are free; you have no choice but finding a way to make it across the desert, which makes you not free. Choose your own angle and title to write an article that is not less than 800 words.”

Sichuan Province:

“The world belongs to you only after you stand up.
Please choose your own angle and write about your thoughts on this sentence.”

Jiangsu Province:

“Some people say that nothing but the youth is immortal; someone say that the young people do not believe that they are going to die some days. This kind of thought is naïve. We keep telling ourselves and believing that there is actually some kind of eternity like the nature.
Please read the material and write an article.”

Fujian Province:

“When you mention “valley”, some people will think of “cliffs,” and others might think of “the ancient Chinese wrestle road along the cliff.”
Write a topic composition on this sentence that is no less than 800 words.”

Anhui Province:

“The artists say that the actors are allowed to change the screenplay, but the directors say that they are not.
Choose your own angle and talk about what’s your understanding and views on this topic.”

Hunan Province:

“There was one a place where everyone was very poor. Most of the people who worked here left after two years. However, someone stayed for years and turned it into the most beautiful village with the others.
Write an argumentative article or a descriptive article on this topic.”

Guangdong Province:

“In the era of black and white films, there were not many photos. Although these photos only recorded a few magical moments of our lives, we enjoy reviewing them and they bring back precious memories. However, these old photos always got fate and yellow after years. And now, in the era of digital technology, there are tons of photos which record every seconds of our lives. They can be uploaded to share online and they never get fate or yellow. However, as the speed of people reviewing these photos goes up, these memories are not that “precious” anymore.
Choose your own angle and write an article on this topic.”

Liaoning Province:

“Grandfather and grandson are watching views from the top of the hill. The grandson says that the Neon Light is really beautiful, because it makes the city colorful. The grandfather says back when the neon light didn’t exist, people are able to see the stars in the sky which are more beautiful. Write an article on this topic”. READ MORE AT THE SHANGHALIST

Can you Answer Some gaokao Essay Questions?

A collective groan from millions of high school students echoed across China yesterday as the gaokao, the country’s college entrance exam, kicked off. The test has become notorious for its intensity and its challenging questions, and this year’s gaokao is no exception. From philosophical quotes to the meaning of a buzzword, these essay questions are designed to test not only students’ language abilities and knowledge, but also their creativity, experience and wisdom. Once again, we’ve compiled a list of essay questions that students across China faced during their exams this year. Think you can handle them?

Question 1. “A father was talking on the phone while driving on a highway. His daughter reminded him repeatedly to stop doing this, but her father would not listen. The daughter called the police and reported her father at last. When the police arrived, the father was reprimanded. This generated heated debate among the public.” Write a letter of 800 words to either the father, the daughter or the police officer. (Test Paper National I. Applicable to: Henan, Hebei, Shanxi, Jiangxi, Shaanxi)

Question 2: Who do you admire the most? A biotechnology researcher, a welding engineering technician or a photographer?

Biotechnology researcher: Mr. Lee led the company to a globalized market.

Welding engineering technician : Mr. Wang was an ordinary welding engineering technician, and through perseverance, has become a world-renowned craftsman.
Photographer: The photographer posted a collection of his photos to his blog and was well-received online.

Question 3. Based on the three given uses of ‘road’, write an essay.

  1. “The Earth had no roads to begin with, but when many men passed one way, a road was made.” —Lu Hsun (Lu Xun)
    2. There is no such thing as a road that dare not to be walked, only people who dare not to walk it.
    3. You may take the wrong road sometimes, but if you keep walking, it will become a brand new road.

Question 4. Topic: Do butterfly wings have colors?

“A teacher asked the students to look at butterflies under a microscope. At first, they thought the butterflies were colorful, but when they looked at them closely, they realized that they were actually colorless.” Based on this story, write an essay. (From Anhui)Question 5. Topic: What is “Fan’er”? The buzzword “Fan’er” is popularly used to refer to a person, group or country’s “style”. Draw from personal experiences to describe your feelings about the word. (From Tianjin)

The gaokao is administered over 2-3 days, and determines the fate of over nine million students across China. Read more… [Image via and CCTVnews]

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