Gaokao: an update with the latest changes

The Ministry of Education of China recently announced that the 2020 Gaokao would be postponed for one month and be held on July 7th and 8th instead. This policy affects 10.71 million candidates and brings both challenges and opportunities. No changes are being made to the content of the exam and the evaluation criteria.

The covid-19 outbreak is affecting high-school students, who have spent weeks in lockdown, in a negative way. In particular, online learning conditions have created a gap when preparing for the exam between students in rural and poor areas, on the one hand, and those in urban environments, on the other. Therefore, the postponement of the Gaokao should be seen as a measure to look after the health of students. But it should also be understood as a means to maintain the fairness of the entire process.

The prevention and control of covid-19 have achieved remarkable results in China, to the extent that many provinces have now resumed school activities. Some students, however, experience difficulties when returning to an intensive "campus learning" context immediately after a long "home study" period.

These are some of the issues observed at Senior High Schools:

  1. Not every student has benefited fully from online learning. As a consequence, progress in various academic subjects is inconsistent.

  2. Due to the impact of the covid-19 outbreak, there are doubts about the length of study and the amount of homework that should be recommended going forward.

  3. Socioeconomic differences (notably disposable family income and unlimited access to the Internet) have created a worrying divide among students as far as the preparation for the Gaokao is concerned.

As a consequence, schools may well need to continue refining the balance between campus study and home study even after the crisis. At this point, ensuring that every student has the same chances of success to undertake Gaokao with the optimum level of preparation seems the most crucial issue for the entire learning community.

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