Gaokao Stories in Memory

2016-06-09 21:40:30 | From:

This year's national college entrance examination, or Gaokao, concluded today. For most Chinese young people, the annual exam is of huge importance to them, as it in many ways decides your destiny.

Do you remember when you sat the Gaokao? Six people of different generations recall their Gaokao stories for us.


The scores report and admission card for 1978 college entrance examination of Mr. Xia. [Photo provided by Mr. Xia]

Mr. Xia, 60, attended Gaokao in Sichuan in 1977, the first year that the national college entrance examination resumed after it was abolished in 1966.

After graduating from high school in the early 1970s, Xia arranged to work in the countryside in Sichuan province as an "educated youth", in common with most other middle and high school students during that period. In 1976, Xia was recommended to study at the Shanghai International Studies University because of his excellent English language skills. However, he gave up the valuable opportunity to another "educated youth" who came from a low-income family.

One year later, some good news came. The then 21-year-old Xia had no hesitation in grasping the chance to realize his college dream. He did not know his exact scores, but received a letter from Shanghai International Studies University. The letter said the university was glad to enroll him, but there was a problem in that his identity when he registered for the Gaokao was as an "educated youth" in the countryside, whereas by that time he was a worker in the city. If he still wanted to study at university, he had to transfer his household back to the countryside. As there was no time left to make the move, Xia again gave up the opportunity for higher education.

In 1978, Xia tried the national college entrance examination for a second time. Since he had to work at a coal mine during the daytime, he recalls how he would only sleep three to four hours, making as much time as possible to study. This time he received his scores from the college recruitment department, but still had no idea of other people's performances or what college he could apply for. Only during the oral exam, was Xia told by the examiner that his scores were excellent. He then applied for the English department at Shanghai International Studies University.


The admission card for 1978 college entrance examination of Mr. Ding. [Photo provided by Mr. Ding]

Mr. Ding, 59, classmate of Mr. Xia at Shanghai International Studies University, had a very different Gaokao experience.

Ding was selected to study at the foreign language training class at "Wu Qi Gan Xiao" (May 7th cadre school where students are cadres, sci-tech researchers, and teachers from colleges and universities) in the countryside. He also had to work as an "educated youth" on farmland, but was able to study English during quieter times. In 1978, Ding graduated from "Wu Qi Gan Xiao" and was allowed to take the Gaokao exam.

Ding said as they had no revision materials at all, they attended review classes with new high school graduates. Classmates shared their materials and helped each other remember the key contents. After half a year of preparation, Ding entered the Shanghai International Studies University. Though he was not very satisfied with his scores, Ding says it was still great to have a chance to focus on English study at a college.

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