Gaokao: far more than an exam

Manuel Duarte João Pires


China has an education system of hundreds of millions of students, notable regional and economic differences, and cultural factors that greatly influence the social roles of teacher and student, and the way society views education. All these have shaped a unique education system in which written examinations played a vital role. Based on a review of the current literature on this topic and interviews with students of Portuguese at Sun-Yat Sen University in Guandong Province, this study addresses the influence of gaokao (National College Entrance Examination) on the profile of Chinese students and aims to contribute to bring to light this determinant feature of the Chinese education system. The Chinese education system consists of a succession of exams, the best known of which is gaokao. The demands of gaokao have a huge influence on the social and academic profile of Chinese college students and affect the way they face the school and university. In the short term it seems challenging to change the burden of gaokao in Chinese schooling due to population density, teaching methods and socio-cultural issues.


China; Chinese students; National College Entrance Examination (gaokao); Portuguese as a Foreign Language.

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