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Why it still pays to get a good gaokao score

By ZHANG ZHOUXIANG | China Daily | Updated: 2024-06-07 07:51
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Thursday marks the start of the annual national college entrance examination, or gaokao, the score of which decides which domestic college a high school graduate will go to.

In an age when lifelong learning has become a dominant trend, the role of gaokao is becoming less important than it was decades ago. In 2023, 4.74 million college graduates sat for the national postgraduate entrance examination, almost a million more than the 3.77 million who sat for it in 2021. Considering that the total number of college graduates in 2023 was 10.47 million, that means more than one-third of the graduates strive for higher learning, which is considerably high.

True, although the gaokao still decides which college one will go to, even without a good performance in the exams one can have a bright future, so it is no more "the decisive exam for one's fate" as it was two decades ago. Some have even gone to the extent of saying that the gaokao only decides which campus and with whom one is going to spend the next four years of their lives.

But it will be wrong to undervalue the gaokao so much. Which campus and with whom one spends those four years are crucial, too.

On social networking sites one will find many students complaining about lack of qualified academic resources on their campus. They also complain that unless they get into the best colleges, they don't get quality faculty. Not every college creates an environment favorable for learning. There are many cases in which students feel isolated or are subject to campus violence, apart from leading an unhealthy academic life. That's why, it is important to make the effort to get into a college of one's choice. According to 2023 data from a domestic salary statistics website,, the average monthly salary for those graduating from the top 50 universities is almost 30 percent higher than for those graduating from universities ranking 50 to 100. That's one more reason to strive for a good score in the exams and get into a top university this autumn.

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