12 October 2016

School exam reform in China

Last month, China revealed plans to introduce changes to the Middle School education system, some of which will impact Chinese students choosing to study abroad.

E News China reform image resized

The changes are part of the Guiding Opinion on Further Advancing Exam and Student Enrolment Reform at High School Level, officially released by China’s Ministry of Education. Key features of the Guiding Opinion include:

  • The intention to combine the Middle School Completion Exam (Chuzhong Huikao) and High School Entrance Exam (Zhongkao) into one ‘Middle School Academic Achievement Exam’ (Chuzhong Xueye Shuiping Kaoshi).
  • Middle school students (Years 7 – 9 in China) will have the freedom to choose optional subjects whose exam results will contribute to the final Middle School Academic Achievement Exam (alongside their usual compulsory subjects, for example, Chinese literature and maths).

The overarching objective of the reform is to advance students’ development by allowing them to choose elective courses to complement compulsory subjects. This reform is consistent with adjustments to Gaokao, China’s College Entrance Exam, where students have the option to choose what they want to study, and can pursue what they are good at.

Piloting of the reform is expected to begin at a provincial level from 2018 onwards, and will not affect students enrolling until then.  

Rosemary An, ENZ’s Education Manager based in China, says that when these changes come into play, they will likely have some impact on Chinese students who decide to study abroad.

“The changes show an effort by China to mitigate exam burdens and to emphasise the value of all-round development. An added benefit is that if these Chinese students decide to study in New Zealand, they are likely to adapt more quickly to New Zealand secondary schooling as they will have already experienced ‘course selection’ in their home country.”

While it is still too soon to predict what this development will mean for overseas study trends, Rosemary recommends that any institutions recruiting Chinese school students should be aware of this development. 

The ENZ China team will keep an eye on the progress and impact of these reforms, and share any updates as they occur.

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