Changes to be made for college entrance

Shanghai yesterday announced new measures to reform the college entrance examination, known as gaokao, to ensure colleges admit the best qualified students.

SHANGHAI yesterday announced new measures to reform the college entrance examination, known as gaokao, to ensure colleges admit the best qualified students.

Under the current measures, students all need to take Chinese, math and English tests, and they also need to choose a further three from physics, chemistry, biology, history, politics and geography.

The system is more complicated with regard to grading the tests. Students are divided into 11 levels according to their original test scores and there is a fixed percentage set for each level.

Students are graded with a 3-point gap between each two levels. For example, the top 5 percent of students get A+, or 70 points, while the next 10 percent get A, equal to 67 points.

However, some students made the choice of subjects not based on their real interests but chose the three non-compulsory subjects where they believed they could achieve the highest scores.

As many students are not confident in physics, a traditionally difficult subject, authorities are worried that fewer students choose physics in gaokao, which in turn reduces the numbers of students capable of mastering engineering and science at degree level.

So the government has now introduced a “safeguard mechanism” — whereby 15,000 is set as “a safe line.” The mechanism starts with physics but will be used in other subjects later.

The mechanism works like this. If the number of students who opt for the physics test is below the 15,000 safe line, then the authorities say some students will be more likely to be awarded higher grades, thereby encouraging more students to take the physics test the next year.

Meanwhile, for some university subjects, students will be required to choose certain subjects for gaokao no matter how proficient they may be in them. For example, if they want to major in science or engineering, they must take physics.

Previously, students who focused on history, biology and geography might have been admitted as an engineering major at some colleges.

The measure will begin to take effect from 2020.

Special Reports
Top