China’s university entrance exam postponed

The gao kao, taken by 10 million students annually, will be delayed until July because of pandemic

March 31, 2020
Source: iStock
A gao kao testing site in Qingdao, China, in 2019

The Chinese Ministry of Education has announced that the gao kao, the national university entrance exam taken by 10 million students annually, will be rescheduled from its original date in June to July because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The exam will take place on 7 and 8 July, except for Hubei Province, the epicentre of the outbreak, and Beijing, which will be able to set their own timetables according to local circumstances.

The gao kao has not been postponed nationally for many years, although it was delayed in some areas affected by the Wenchuan earthquake in 2008.

Students have been waiting for gao kao news since February, when school classes across the country were cancelled and the ministry said that it had yet to decide if the exam would go ahead. Now that a date has been set for July, it is expected that university admissions for the 2020-21 academic year will not be too severely impacted.

The one-month delay was enacted partly in response to concerns by students and parents that a “complete final-year study experience” could not be “replaced by attending online courses at home”, Xiong Bingqi, a deputy director of the 21st Century Education Research Institute, told the Global Times newspaper.

Two months of school closures have left some students behind in coursework, particularly those who may not have easy access to online learning. However, as the number of reported domestic Covid-19 cases has dropped considerably in China, a portion of high school students have been returning to schools to prepare for the gao kao. Some provinces have announced that in-person gao kao classes will restart in April.

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