Not only Cambridge, those western universities see merit in China’s Gaokao


The University of Cambridge said on Monday its policy to accept China’s National Higher Education Entrance Examination, commonly known as Gaokao, for Chinese applicants has been in place for several years.

Chinese media reported on Sunday that the university had joined the list of top UK schools to accept Gaokao scores for students wishing to join its undergraduate courses.

In a Chinese-language post on its official account on Sina Weibo, a popular social media platform, the university said the enrollment is based not only on test scores but a comprehensive assessment of each applicant.

The University of Cambridge

According to Cambridge’s website, the Gaokao is a suitable preparation for the university and the required scores for successful applicants will vary from province to province and year to year. As a guideline, successful applicants will usually have scores in the top 0.1 percent of those taking the Gaokao in their provinces.

Some 10 million students sit the exam annually, but only 2 percent of them are accepted into China’s top 38 universities, and just 0.05 per cent get into Tsinghua and Peking – the Oxbridge of China.


Cambridge also encourages applicants to undertake additional studies outside of their school qualifications, such as science Olympiads, College Board SAT I or II, or Advanced Placement Tests.

Cambridge had 420 undergraduate and 754 postgraduate students from China in the 2017-18 academic year.

The Gaokao is an important moment in the lives of most Chinese high school students. The make-or-break examination, administered over two days in June, can set the course for a Chinese student’s future.

The British government is especially keen to attract Chinese students, as they contribute an estimated £15 billion (US$19.77 billion) to the economy. But more than half of the 600,000 Chinese students who began their studies abroad in 2017 chose to go to the US.

the University of Birmingham

Six other famous UK universities that accept Gaokao scores are the University of Birmingham, the University of Leicester, the University of Kent, the University of Dundee, Queen’s University Belfast, and Cardiff University.

If some top-class universities offer entry using gaokao scores, their competitors may find it hard to resist doing the same, the Economist has said.

Other European universities, including in France, Spain and Italy, are following suit.

In June last year, the University of New Hampshire became the first public state-level university in America to accept gaokao scores. It joined a handful of privately funded American colleges such as New York University and the University of San Francisco.

In Canada around 30 universities allow gaokao results to be used instead of the SAT or similar tests. They include the University of Toronto and McGill University.

In Australia the University of Sydney took the lead in 2012. Now more than half of Australian colleges welcome the gaokao, including seven members of the prestigious “Group of Eight”.



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