Cambridge uses gaokao scores as part of its admission criteria for Chinese students. CFP
Chinese high school students who want to enter the University of Cambridge may find that their scores on the national college entrance examination, or gaokao, will help their applications in the future.
The University of Cambridge said in March that it has been using scores on gaokao as part of its admission criteria for Chinese students for several years, according to its official weibo account.
However, it does not admit students simply based on their test scores. In addition to top scores on gaokao, Chinese applicants also need to meet English language requirements, participate in an interview and take a subject-specific written admission assessment.
Internet users have broadly welcomed the move, saying this is a blessing for Chinese students who want to enter the university, though the bar is set high, according to China Daily.
The gaokao has been criticized by some as a one-shot exam that focuses on rote learning rather than creativity. However, recent years have seen more and more foreign universities begin to accept gaokao scores as part of the application process. For example, the University of New Hampshire became the first US state university to use the gaokao in its entrance criteria in 2018. A handful of universities in Europe, Australia, Canada and Singapore have also adopted similar policies.
“We are aware of the many criticisms that have been made of the gaokao,” Stanley Nel, vice-president of international relations at the University of San Francisco (USF), told China Daily. USF also accepts gaokao scores as part of the application process.
“But it has the advantage of being what educational experts call a ‘criterion-referenced’ exam: It tests whether students are able to master a given body of knowledge, as well as their ability to work hard and consistently.”
Paul Fitzgerald, USF president, believes that there’s no perfect predictor of academic performance. He noted that the SAT isn’t perfect, either. “Many studies have shown that the SAT is not a very good predictor of how well students will do at university,” he told Quartz.
Despite the gaokao’s growing acceptance among US universities, “there is a long way to go before the US education circle fully recognizes the gaokao, as there are still many US universities that don’t accept it as part of their application process,” Chu Zhaohui, a researcher from the National Institute of Education Sciences, told the Global Times.