BEIJING — The Education Ministry on Dec 16 took a critical step in its initiative to reform the college entrance exam system, aiming to reverse exam-oriented education to help fuel future growth.
According to the ministry, university entrance will no longer be solely determined by students’ Gaokao score, the national college entrance exam.
In addition to exam results, students will also be evaluated on their morality standards, physical health, art cultivation and social practice. For example, volunteer activities will result in merits.
Previously, only a small fraction of students were awarded extra Gaokao credits, mainly for success in academic competitions such as the highly competitive mathematical Olympiad.
The current trend is that most students undertake a fixed, universal diet of exam subjects in either the sciences or arts.
In the future, students will be allowed to submit the scores of three subjects from a pool of six — biology, chemistry, geography, history, physics and politics — together with their mandatory Chinese, math and English scores.
“The new regulation will help students take advantage of their strengths and overcome their shortcomings,” said Zhou Bin, a schoolmaster from Haining city in Zhejiang province, adding that often students paid too much attention to their weaknesses.
China resumed the Gaokao system in 1977. Since then, the exam has been called a “single-plank bridge” because of the wide gap between applicants and admissions.
But in recent years, Gaokao has attracted criticism for its suffocation of students’ innovative spirit and its juxtaposition to modern society, leading to serious brain drain.
The number of students taking the Gaokao test has declined from its peak of 10.5 million in 2008 to some 9.3 million this year, and many top scorers chose to study in Hong Kong.
“We need to transform our education system to one for the people, to better cultivate our students,” said Zhou Bin.