College Admission Test (CAT) in China

The reason why I’m writing about CAT is that my nephew will take this test in June. I can’t believe this little boy is now going to college, just like me 25 years ago. BTW, today, March 8th, is his birthday.

The formal CAT started in 1952, but was interrupted during the Cultural Revolution. In 1977, Chairman Deng Xiaoping announced that CAT was back. At the beginning, it seemed to be fair and efficient, and it changed so many young “intellectual’s” life.

To me, the CAT was a bitter memory. I had been ranked in the top three of my class in all tests but this one. The fate of all high school students is determined by this single test. If they considered something like the GPA, I would have gone to my favorite university.

Some people may ask if it would a good idea that we apply the U.S. admission system in China, i.e. let students send applications to different schools and give the schools the freedom of selecting students not just based on a single test. In the U.S, universities favor those students who have achievements in sports or other specialties, or being a student leader, etc. If we do the same in China, it may be good for kids who live in the city. But for those who are from the rural and less developed areas, it would make it harder for them to get into a good school. So in a way, the CAT is more fair. Personally, I think it would be better if the students could take two or three tests at different times, and have a weighted average score based on these tests.

High school education in China had gone too far and put way too much pressure on those kids. The daily routines of my nephew is to go to school at 7am, and come home at about 9pm. Usually he cannot go to bed until after mid-night, because of excessive homework. And on top of that, he has to attend weekend classes in school. He told me a few weeks ago that he would have collapsed if not for the short winter break. If you ask recent immigrants from China why they came to the United States, they will probably tell you it was for better education of their children, as they don’t want their kids to suffer from the pressure in Chinese schools.

Anyway, I just want to wish my nephew good luck, and hope he will go to his favorite college in September!


1 Comment

  1. Willym says:

    Wishing all success to your nephew. It is had to believe that he is going to be in college.


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