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Sub-anchor: Cheating prevention geared up for 2016 'Gaokao'


06-07-2016 15:04 BJT

For more on the Gaokao, we are joined in the studio by my colleague Wang Tongxuan. We know millions of students take the Gaokao every year, which to a certain extent could determine their future. So how exactly does such a critical and life-changing exam work?

Chinese people have mixed reactions to it. Not only is the result life-changing, but just getting that far is also worth celebrating. The annual National College Entrance Exams - or Gaokao - is the only way Chinese students can get into college.

This year for example, more than nine million high school students are competing for just over three million undergraduate places, which means two out of three students won't be accepted.

Last year, 75 percent of students who took the exam were accepted into some sort of tertiary educational institutions. But only one in ten were granted admission into China's so-called first-tier universities. And that's where the stakes are high.

Here's how the exam works. There are two or three full days of exams in early June. Test topics depend on the policies of a province, but usually, students take tests on Chinese, English, math plus a combination of liberal arts or science-oriented subjects.

With the belief that "knowledge can change fate", both Chinese parents and students tag this as a once in a lifetime exam. Not that technically they can't take it again, but many find the whole experience too stressful and unbearable to do it a second time.

Most schools cram three years of high school education into two and save the final year only for exam preparations. That means drills day after day after day. So what are the alternatives?

There’s a trend that increasing numbers of Chinese high school students are now applying to universities abroad. Is it because Chinese parents are getting wealthier and can afford to foot the bill for extended stays abroad or are other reasons pushing them? 

According to the Ministry of Education, the number of students taking Gaokao in 13 provinces is falling this year. The drop is particularly noticeable in Beijing and Jiangsu---China’s most economic dynamic regions.

What have been some of the major changes this year?

We are seeing the strictest Gaokao year ever. Chinese authorities are imposing strict measures to prevent cheating in the test - for the first time, those who cheat could get three to seven years in prison.

The anti-cheating measures also cover the printing and transportation of test papers and selecting exam supervisors. Some provinces have even installed multiple checkpoints, including facial recognition, fingerprint verification and metal detectors.

Apart from anti-cheating efforts, traffic controls and noise reduction measures have also been implemented at local levels around examination venues to create peaceful environments for students.

Beijing has for the first time deployed SWAT teams to escort the Gaokao test papers, and at least eight police officers will be stationed at each test venue.

And another interesting trend worth mentioning is that the number of students taking the Gaokao test continues to decline. The peak was 10.5 million in 2008 and it's dropped by about one million in recent years.

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