Scholarship and education

Gaokao questions 2007

It's time for the post-game analysis of this year's gaokao essay questions.

Each year after the college entrance exam, pundits, noted bloggers, and the general public offer up their own compositions while trying to guess the motivations behind the topics.

This year, a number of questions share the theme of overcoming adversity - from the country-wide topic ("There's been an accident"), to Shanghai's question about moving beyond bumps in the road, to Ningxia's question concerning an unrelenting spirit. One commentator in the Shanghai Youth Daily noted that his friends had identified a number of topics with problems currently facing day-traders, but other than that there seems to be no over-arching theme this year.

A few questions were self-referential: students in Jiangxi wrote about language arts, while students in Chongqing were asked about the gaokao itself.

Below are translations of some of the essay questions as reported by the Beijing Evening News and the Xinmin Evening News; they may not be accurate or complete.

· National I
"Taking a tumble" (摔了一跤)

An image of a child surrounded by three adults representing Society, Family, and School. The three are all saying "There's been an accident" (出事了) Choose a format and a title. 800 characters.

· National II
1. The famous singer Cong Fei lived frugally to donate 3 million to a business in trouble, but after he fell ill, none of the workers at that company came to visit him. One of the beneficiaries said, "Cong Fei has really lost face." Cong Fei was very troubled, but he said, "I no longer need any money for treatment."

2. Xiao Li, a student at Huannan Agricultural University, donated money to a charity school by collecting and selling trash. However, not long after, she was diagnosed with leukemia. The school solicited donations from its students. One fourth-grade student gave ten yuan, and when asked why she donated her New Year's money, the girl said that we should remember Xiao Li's words: "We must learn to help those people who need help. We must help others."

Write an essay according to the above materials.

· Shanghai
"This ditch must be crossed" (必须跨过这道坎)
(1) 800 characters or more; (2) Not poetry; (3) Do not reveal any personal information.

· Beijing
Using "The drizzle dampens clothes but cannot be seen; flowers fall to the ground without a sound" (细雨湿衣看不见,闲花落地听无声) write an essay of your choice. 800 characters or more.

· Tianjin
"There's a phrase on everyone's lips" (有句话常挂在嘴边)
800 words or less.

· Chongqing
"The flavors of the gaokao" (酸甜苦辣说高考)
Topical essay; 800 characters.

· Guangdong
Using "transfer" (传递) as the topic, write 800 characters. No poetry.

· Jiangsu
"Nostalgia for the heavens" (怀想天空)

· Shandong
Write an 800-character piece on the topic "Time will not erode memory" (时间不会使记忆风化)

· Liaoning
"Life is like climbing a mountain: even a small step ahead is a new height - I can." (人生如登山,往上即使迈一小步,也是一个新的高度——我能。)

· Fujian
"Seasons" (季节)

· Hubei
A mother tongue is the first language a person learns. Everyone has their own mother tongue. A mother is the bearer of the culture of a people; it is the root of a people's development. In the present age of a world of diverse cultural competition and exchange, mother tongues have received increasingly widespread attention. Interpersonal communication, thought, and feelings, literary appreciation, and the grasping of scientific and cultural knowledge are inseparable from a mother tongue.

So one could say that everyday, we experience our mother tongue, study our mother tongue, and use our mother tongue.

· Hunan
With "A poetic life" (诗意的生活) as a topic, use your own experience to write at least 800 characters.

· Zhejiang
"Walking as things wear away" (行走在消逝中)

· Anhui
"Carrying a basket of springtime to see mother" (提篮春光看妈妈)

· Sichuan
"From one step to one life" (从一步到一生)

· Hainan
French chemistry PhD [Edouard] Benedictus dropped a flask during an experiment, but the flask did not shatter. He discovered that the flask had contained a pyroxylin solution that had coated the glass with a thin layer, causing it not to shatter. This led him to invent shatter-proof glass which has a wide range of uses, such as windscreen glass. Innovation is not a thing of mystery. If you use your mind to discover, you too can have the ability to innovate. 800 characters.

· Jiangxi
Select one of the following topics:
(1) Language arts: an overflowing fountain in the mind;
(2) Language arts: It's hard to say I love you.

· Ningxia
"Accidents and an unremitting spirit" (机遇与坚持不懈的精神)

In other gaokao news, Reuters reports that three people have been detained by police in Jilin Province for running a wireless cheating scam from a van parked outside of a testing center. The answer service cost students 12,000 yuan apiece.

Also, Sam Crane at The Useless Tree explains why the gaokao is neither Taoist nor Confucian, and Jeremiah at the Granite Studio looks at the history of the old imperial exam system.

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There are currently 7 Comments for Gaokao questions 2007.

Comments on Gaokao questions 2007

Interesting article, thanks.
I wonder what kind of grade a student in Hubei would get for pointing out that, except for in the north-east where local languages are very close to putonghua, most schools seem to ask their students not to speak their mother tongue at school. (possibly a good grade -who can tell?)

I think a mother tongue refer to a language, e.g. Chinese, Japanese, English,etc, and not refer to a dialect or accent.

Ming- what's the difference?

Given that this examination determines the higher education of a student, to which the student has sacrificed the past 12 years of his or her life, I don't think it would be very likely that anyone would try any funny business on this examination. If they've been in the Chinese education system for that long, you'd also imagine that they'd know better than to stir up politics that would get them flunked.

Wow! I believed what I heard, that China's educational system encouraged rote memorization and not original thinking. But look at those questions! 800 characters on "The drizzle dampens clothes but cannot be seen; flowers fall to the ground without a sound" That's not a rote memorization question. What I'd like to see are the top graded answers.

By the way, I live in Shanghai, and I'm here to tell you that Shanghainese is not a dialect or an accent of Mandarin, it's a different language. My basis for saying so is that Mandarin speakers can't understand it.

Oh yeah. I think mother tongue means local dialect. When people starting speaking: Mi Nan hua, Wu (Shanghai), Guang Dong Hua, Fujian Hua, haha I can't understand a thing they're saying. Sichuan dudes if they speak slow I can understand them fine. According to Wikipedia Chinese is considered a language group.

It kind of pisses me off :), everyone's got their own little private messaging dialect, while when I speak everyone knows what I'm saying.

Oh yeah I forgot, there's also Nanjing hua... Wuxi Hua...


I wish I had my own dialect.

So the purpose of Chinese education is to prepare students to answer questions like these?

Fair enough.

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