Return to Blog Homepage

The Gao Kao: China’s Version of the SAT

The Gao Kao: China’s Version of the SAT
If you think the LSAT is stressful, try being one of the 10 million Chinese students every year who take the gao kao (pronounced gow kow). The New York Times reports on the standardized test that is given once a year, lasts nine hours, and almost single-handedly determines entrance to college in China. Unlike the LSAT which is a test of reasoning, the gao kao tests memorized knowledge. The result: a frenzy of preparation that includes students studying for sixteen hours a day for an entire year. Some test takers study in the hospital hooked up to oxygen tanks to improve their concentration. Others are sent by their families to live in specialized test prep centers, often at prices that can be more than half of their family’s annual income. And with such high stakes, there’s bound to be cheating. Last year, 2,645 students were caught. One included an elaborate scheme with a miniscanner and nine teachers standing by to feed the correct answers to a test taker.

So as you embark on your LSAT studying and bemoan the four hours of class or two hours of studying each night just remember that it could be worse. You could be taking the gao kao.

China’s College Entry Test Is an Obsession