The National College Entrance Exams, also known as the Gaokao, is the most important test in China. Students’ scores in six subjects – combined with a few extra points from other activities – determine whether they will be able to continue their studies.

The Ministry of Education published a new rule set in January that requires a standardization of bonus points, including those assigned to students pursuing art, theater and athletics. It also compels schools to stop accepting students who have not passed the exam.

By 2020, all universities must stop admitting students who have not completed the exam, the ministry said.

The selection and evaluation of students for exam-free admission has been mired in fraud and corruption, Xinhua reported. Many provinces have already canceled exam-free admission.

In the past, students who met the required bonus points were awarded 20 extra points on their Gaokao result. In 2016, the Ministry of Education curtailed this automatic bonus.

Excellent students at provincial level, outstanding students of high ethics, first, second and third prizewinners in the National Olympic Competition for Middle School Students, first and second prizewinners in the China Adolescents Science and Technology Innovation Contest, winners of international science and engineering contests or Olympic contests in international environmental research and students ranked as Level 2 national athletes can still be awarded bonus points.

Students are eligible for no more than 5 bonus points.

The new policy retained the 20-point boost for students from rural areas and Taiwan, as well as the children of overseas Chinese, ethnic minorities and martyrs.

This year, the Ministry of Education is tightening up its exam-free policy. The children of martyrs can only be enrolled in public security schools if they receive a Gaokao waver. The number of students admitted to foreign language schools will also be reduced.

Guangdong, Anhui, Jiangsu and other provinces have already implemented the new policy.

Huang Youwen, vice president of the Education Examinations Authority of Guangdong Province, said Guangdong slashed its bonus points in 2014.

Anhui province canceled its bonus points for excellent students and exam-free policy in 2010. Jiangsu province had 442 exam-free students in 2013 and 188 students in 2016.

Bonus points were intended to assist in evaluating students, the ministry said. However, during the last two decades the selection process became an avenue for corruption. Many provinces kept their evaluation processes a secret.

According to the new regulation, schools will select their provincial level excellent students and report them to the city for final evaluation. However, schools can implement their own standards. Some may value test results and others morality.

The standard seems to be wide open for all students to compete, but the various standards and the corruption and fraud gave almost no chance to ordinary students.

Most teachers said the Olympic contests and children of martyrs are easy to evaluate, but the subjective standard of excellent students and morally outstanding students depends on evaluators.

While most favor the new policy, educators worry the Gaokao will once again be the only way to determine excellent students.

Huang said the reform of Gaokao policy should account for students’ daily, monthly and annual test scores, physical performance and moral performance.

Under the new way of calculating scores, Gaokao results account for 30 percent of a student’s final admission scores. Students can also choose their strongest subjects for testing in the Gaokao.

Students who are strong in a certain subject may take a pre-test held by universities before the Gaokao to win a bonus of between 20 and 50 points.

Educators at universities said the reform marks a transition.

Diao Jiayi

About Diao Jiayi

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Diao Diao is a tomboy whose head is full of weird ideas. She's a little lazy, but she loves life and her family and is always up for a challenge.

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