Every year around the middle of spring and the beginning of summer students from all over the world, ranging from ages 14 – 18, take exams that have a large impact on their future. A few weeks ago I was one of those students; as a student at a British international school, I took my GCSEs, a series of ten tests in different subjects. For students in Chinese schools their biggest worry around this time is preparation for the National Higher Education Entrance Exam, which is commonly known as Gaokao.
There are many differences between Gaokao and GCSE yet one strong similarity.The General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) is a British Qualifications exam needed for writing A-level. Yet the National Higher Education Entrance Examination (Gaokao) is a Chinese exam taken in order to get into college. Both these exams are very important but the pressure and stress of GCSEs only appears during the second year whilst a Chinese student is aware of the Gaokao’s importance from a very young age. GCSEs are written over a period of 6 weeks; the writing of Gaokao takes merely 2 to 3 days but the material encompasses many more years of study. GCSEs can be written internationally as IGCSEs yet Chinese students can only take the Gaokao in China.Another similarity both exams share is the increase of cheating through use of mobile phones, therefore checks are made before the beginning of each exam.
For some GCSE exams, coursework is taken as well as the final exam paper. Coursework gives you 20-80% chance of not worrying about the overall GCSE subject grade because advice from teachers and text resources are allowed. As for Gaokao there is no coursework. GCSEs follow are a syllabus, which changes every 2 years and Gaokao is an exam of compiled questions by teachers in every province of China.
2008 has been significant year for both exams. This year’s GCSEs were harder compared to previous years and due to the dreadful earthquake in Sichuan province the Gaokao examinations were rescheduled.
So tell which would you rather take the Gaokao or GCSEs?