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August 13th, 2008
China Prep
The Gaokao: How Would You Fare?

The gaokao or “tall test” is China’s national college entrance exam. Try these sample questions to test how you would fare on the exam.

  • hz

    In the length calculation problem, length of AC and BD should be the same because they are diagonals of a square, right?

  • RAB

    Yes hz, I agree. Then you can find the tangent of angle DAF
    is 1/3 exactly. And so the correct answer, the length of AF is a*sqrt(5)/3. None of the answers offered except G is correct

  • JorgeVasquez

    in question 3, am i being stupid or are all of the statements correct? i mean considering the fact that the question itself says it has cancelled agriculture tax, surely that means that the farmers are no longer taxed? and the rest of the three statements are actually slight variations of the same answer, right?

  • IDK

    I don’t understand the Essay question. All the question does is tell us a story then tell us that we can achieve if we try hard enough. Where is the actual Essay Assignment?

  • Mark

    Yes, AC is equal to BD, so a and b are equal lengths.

  • Rhonda

    No. It’s longer. The answer was E.

  • justin

    yes, that makes sense.

  • Richard Fidler

    Were the questions originally asked in English? Question 3, for example, brings up further questions. “Tax” should be, in better English, “tax policy”. It would be hard to rule out answer B. (the others don’t make much sense in English: “supervise the economy” doesn’t mean anything. Number 1 is also debatable. In question 1, prices are higher for luxury goods simply for no other reason than people are willing to pay more for them. It could be advertising or scarcity or some other factor that makes them more valuable. These questions seem to be based upon some reference source and students are asked to memorize passages and cough up the right answer. I am not sure this sort of education will produce thoughtful, crreative people.

  • Lisa

    It is shocking that a child’s future is determined by the time they complete middle school. I believe that China is missing out on some great potential.

  • ME

    There is no question asked in the essay

  • Mishal

    In my initial reactions to the mini-test above I found that the biggest difficulty was the format of the test. I would say that this mini-test in no way encompasses the Gaokao. If a practice full length Gaokao were to be released, we as students would have a greater understanding of this exam, which our counterparts in China face at the end of their senior year.
    Anyways, the essay question does not state any question(s)! As a question the “essay question” should state a question instead of giving inspirational words such as “if you use your mind to discover, you too can have the ability to innovate.” If this were a prompt, the student would be asked to respond to it in an appropriate manner; however, with this essay question the student is not allowed to do this.
    In addition, the layout of the webpage was not made accurately. (Since I am not proficient in web design, I would ask one of the pbs/wide angle employees to please allow us to see the complete essay question without having to select it and copy paste it). The tags label overlaps with the essay (I don’t know if its because of my browser…)

    Overall the Gaokao doesn’t seem difficult, but that might be because I didn’t get a chance to take the whole test.

  • henry

    i think the essay is a prompt then u have to write ure own essay that which agrees or disagrees with the statement

  • Ruben Castro

    China is achieving what the U.S. wishes it had in its school system — a system based on standardized test scores where only college will secure you a decent living. I hope we fail and that we will someday again appreciate the craftsman, the artisan, and the poet.

  • TipsTriflate

    The essay question isn’t a question – I wonder what the examiners typically look for as a response…

  • DE

    Wow anti-democratic propaganda even in the exam. Kerry and Bush? Kerry is the richest senator worth about $220 million and the amount of personal money spent on campaigning is usually minimal.

  • sara

    I think Australia is just as much an island as the UK….more so because the UK includes more than 1 country whereas Australia does not.
    If you count the england as an island than I think Thailand gets to be an island too.

  • Abel

    I am a Chinese. The college entrance exam is just a entrance exam. If an exam is used for choosing candidates, it has to test the candidates’ comprehensive ability. Could you guys possibly give China a better exam or education system? Please see the IELTS, TOEFL,GMAT and GRE, I don’t think that China’s entrance exam is more terrible than these exams.

  • HBA

    We cannot look at this translated sample exam and this in depth documentary as a complete reflection of Chinese education. This is part of their culture. As we look at it from an outside point of view with our Western values, we’ll never completely understand where they are coming from. I admire these children and their hard-working families. Dedication and focus is something we can learn from them. While we may see that they are missing out on arts, social interaction and skills, they are committing themselves for a future that is far more competitive than we’ll ever live. They may soon have the upper hand of which time will only tell.

  • Carl

    No question in the essay?
    Well, that’s part of the question … i.e. What should I write about? What is the best answer? INNOVATE!! Questioning is the KEY to DISCOVERY.
    French chemist Edouard Benedictus questioned “WHY didn’t the glass shatter”? Then investigated the REASON and discovered why .. a property of pyroxylin in solution that formed a coating that adhered to the glass (and kept the glass from separating from the coating and shattering).
    Use your mind to discover and innovate. Find the questions that result in answers. >>>>less than 800 characters (a chinese character represents more than 1 word right?)
    OK, one should be able to take off from here, I would think.

  • Cathy

    Wow. I have a B.A. in English from an American university. I’m feeling pretty stupid right now. These people are gonna bury us.

  • MPS

    Using some basic anayltic geometry, I got the same answer as RAB.

  • MozzarElla

    Taking challenging tests like this are fun (if not also frustrating!).
    Anyone know of a website that offers general knowledge quizzes– merely for the fun of it?

  • Amanda

    I am glad I live in AMERICA!!!!!

  • EG

    Richard Fidler is correct “These questions seem to be based upon some reference source and students are asked to memorize passages and cough up the right answer.” The students have been fed the answers for years. Same with the essay. There is a certain response expected and style of writing to be adhered to. That’s why memorization skills are their most significant claim to fame.

  • Karin Farr

    Innovation is looking at what is currently the paradigm and seeing through it beyond it and creating the new paradigm. But I agree with “ME” above, there is no question.

  • Martin Mellish

    I did the calculation on the geometry question and confirm RAB’s result of A SQRT(5)/3 in Post no. 2 (though Tan DAF = 1/2, not 1/3, probably a typo by RAB). The question is presumably mis-stated: it would be an interesting exercise to find the correct question for the answer given!

  • JK

    on the math question, I don’t think you can assume the object is a square–it could be a parallelogram. I’m not sure how this affects the discussion,however.

    England used to have a system (I think it was eliminated in the 70’s) in which children took a test called the Eleven Plus. Whether they passed this test would determine whether they could attend a top notch middle school and high school, or whether they had to go to a trade school. Students at trade schools could very rarely go to university. So the child’s future was essentially determined around age 11.

    This was based on intelligence research that showed that intelligence is basically genetically determined. However, it was discovered later that the scientist who published the worked had faked some of the data.

    In my opinion, this is a poor way to determine who goes to university and who doesn’t. If they took into account other factors (such as creative work, etc.) they would probably have university students more capable of original thinking.

  • Martin Mellish

    In reply to Richard Fidler’s comment in post #8 on luxury goods: you have to consider the law of supply and demand. If people are prepared to pay more for luxury goods and there are no extra costs in producing them, why isn’t everyone making them as opposed to regular goods? Answer: the price is set by the market at a level that balances supply and demand, so if the equilibrium price is higher for luxury goods, there must also be extra costs. While there are probably some luxury goods where the sheer quantity of labor they require is responsible for the extra costs (e.g. saffron, fur coats, diamonds), I believe that for the majority of luxury goods the answer on the Chinese test is correct in this instance (as it is not on the geometry question).

  • John McInerney

    Chins Education: What a fantastic documentary ! extremely well handled. It’s a delight to have Aaron Brown back

  • arniez

    Hey, I got AF = 0.6708*a. Any one else come up with this answer?

  • Klary

    These questions hint at the dangerous tendencies in the style of Chinese education… coincidence? Each question here (apart from geometry) is merely a pretext to “sell” some ideology to kids, giving a new meaning to the phrase “shaping young minds”. This is propaganda and brainwashing at it’s finest. They seem to suggest what to think about politics, economy, the use of money and ambition: US’ ideals of Democracy and freedom of choice are swiftly done away with, by making them appear completely money-driven (ok, that may not be far from the truth, but…) further, they (ideals) are contrasted with the Chinese Communist Govt ideology, which magnanimously offers tax reliefs for the farmers, helping them “organize their financial income”. Luxury goods are very nicely defined by all of the answers ABCD, each answer repeating: “Luxury is superior”. The Olympic Torch question innocently touches on the fact that the Chinese have been everywhere, but in case this is too subtle, the follow-up questions enumerate the places, just in case. Although it is a good practice to promote the patriotic feelings in young hearts, it is quite another to do it by performing a world-wide conquest recap. Moreover, personal growth should be coupled with self-exploration and overall creativity, and should not limit itself to industrial innovation alone (pyroxylin? give me a break!). Poor Chinese kids are taught to dream of flat screen TVs, the stock market and success. Communism always likes a poster with smiling kids… but it never liked childhood… I’ve seen all of this before, growing up in Solviet Poland of the 80’s., only the Chinese are taking it one step further… Communism is evolving into a luxury brand…

  • Nicole

    Maybe they want you to write about an innovative idea you have in 800 characters. But you’re right there is no question asked in the essay.
    I got 2 questions wrong. I wonder if I would pass that exam. ^_^

  • CW

    Questions 1,2,3 as stated are ideological not empirical. The answers are also ideological, any good communist would see the correct answer.

  • Mr. G

    Taking tests like this tell us what about a person’s ability to think in “real-life” situations. What about the new Bloom’s Taxonomy? How about teamwork, effective communication, collaboration, authentic literacy, etc.

    If we focus on these in education, then we have harnessed a group’s potential…”nobody is smarter that everybody”. The problem is we keep forgetting about the skills it take to do this type of education/work.

  • Allen C. Morse III

    I have always why Chinese products are so BAD. Now I know why! They are not CREATIVE. They are unable to think on their feet like American kids have to do. The products are built by people who have no respect in their culture and thusthey have no pride in what they do. They are considered second class citizens. China will never compete with be competitive with Americans until they stop memorizing and learn to really think!I actually feel sorry for these people! n the meantime I avoid “Made in China” as often as I can, their products just don’t cut it at any price!

  • JBuda

    Yes, without the prior training to memorized the desired answers one can debate all the questions. Like cities on islands, Australia is an island continent so Canberra should be first city!

  • Mr. Name

    Good thing you all didn’t grow up in China. Else you’d have failed miserably…

  • JO

    If the figure is a square the diagonals must be equal in length. I know that this applet is saying that choice E is the correct answer, but i also got a length of (a/3)*sqrt(5). It seems the applet is wrong perhaps?

  • David

    This doesn’t recognize that Canberra is on an island.

  • Nursea

    Wow, math still hates me I guess! I couldn’t agree more with Richard Fidler’s comments.

  • Some Guy

    Regarding the first question, the comparison of a luxury good and its inferior counterpart should be restricted to the same type of product differing only by their branding and not by their similar functionality alone. A bus and a car can both get you from point A to point B; it’s like comparing an orange to a tangerine, it’s the branding of the car that separates it from the other cars. An item is only considered to be a luxury good if consumers perceive it as such; it’s all about clever marketing and advertising (we all know about the power of propaganda), and of course having a slick design helps, which often comes before functionality and quality.

  • JO

    JK, the question specifically state that the figure is a square. Either the problem has been incorrectly stated or the programmers at PBS made a mistake.

  • Some Guy

    I have to disagree with Allen C. Morse III. All of the advancements that we have today are attributed to the groundwork laid by those that came before us. Before one can create, he must first learn to imitate. Mastery of the fundamentals is essential prior to creative thinking. Knowledge is built upon, why reinvent the wheel? Just look at Japan for example, the Japanese were never thought of as great innovators, remember how we Americans use to think of their cars? Look at them now. Time is the great equalizer.

  • Yoel Cohen

    #35 posting, Allen Morse
    Thank God they post your comments, Yesterday I have send a comment a long your thinking and the editorial staff did not want to post it

  • Joseph Schottland

    First as to the “island question” I agree that Australia should be counted as an island though note that the question does not read “The three cities…” as the other questions do indicating that there is more than three cities located on islands.
    As for the luxary goods, I agree with post #28. Using the example the question suggests (TVs) a plasma TV has a higher level of technology included in the product requiring a greater level of specialized production. Similarly with a diamond ring versus a plastic toy ring (no doubt made in China), a diamond ring will need a diamond cutter, someone to set the gem etc. a far greater specialization level than the cheap plastic toy.

  • Joshua Brown

    If this exam is timed, then I would’ve ended up in trades.

  • babu

    RAB – How did you calculate tangent of DAF ?
    without knowing what length of DF is ?

    or how did you calculate DF ?

  • Claude

    These questions require considerable thinking if you don’t know both the questions and the right answers before. However, they are very practical questions, especially the question #2 and its answer “In the United States, money is essential to politics.” Anyone who doesn’t know or denies it is either ignorant or fooling himself. Of course, you can argue any way you want since you have so much time to argue for the sake of argument. Anyway the Chinese are very practical people and they are busy on the way to be the next superpower while you are still arguing.

  • Donna

    So, I took the test. If you want to get into a good US school, you take a battery of tests. Rich kids parents pay for tutors and SAT prep courses. Not much different. The rest of us had to take the same test with the same expectation. Your scores get you into the better schools. Realizing how to read a test question and figure what they are asking is part of test taking 101. I got into a good school, and I did not come from rich parents. This was only a demonstration of a Chineese version of the SAT. Sit down and try to take the SAT if you want to compare tests. Go to for word definition tests for US middle school kids practicing for the SAT’s.

  • Art&B

    In Post #26 Martin Mellish wrote: I … confirm RAB’s result of A*SQRT(5)/3 in Post no. 2 (though Tan DAF = 1/2, not 1/3, probably a typo by RAB).
    After my calculation, Tan EAO = 1/2 and Tan DAF = 1/3. Martin, you just mixed those two. Cheer :)

  • Art&B

    babu asked: how did you calculate DF ?

    1. analyse right triangle AOE. You know lengths EO and AO, so Tan OAE = ?
    2. Count ArcTan (1/2)= in degrees
    3. Find DAF = 45% – ArcTan (1/2)
    4. Count Tan of DAF
    5. you know length of AD from Pythagorean Theorem, just calculated Tan of DAF, so get DF
    6. you know AD, DF, find AF

    Square condition is crucial. It is clever and fun math exercise. Hope it helps.

  • B. L.

    is this malfunctioning? Only the comments are available, not the questions . . . ?

  • Some Guy

    My algebra’s a little weak and trigonometry’s even worst, but couldn’t you solve the problem this way also?

    According to the Pythagorean Theorem:
    A^2 + B^2 = C^2 or “a” in this case

    Since it’s a square, we know that all sides are equal, so A = B which we can refer to as X.
    2X^2 = a ==> X = sqrt(a/2)

    Since “a” cuts the length of one of the sides in half, we know that the length of the new smaller side is sqrt(a/2)/2

    Using the Pythagorean Theorem again, we get:
    a = sqrt(a/2) + sqrt(a/2)/2

  • RAB

    In #47, babu asked how I got tangent DAF (in my response #2).

    I used two observations and a general trigonometry formula:
    tan(DAO) =1;
    tan EAO= 1/2;
    tan(alpha-beta)= [tan(alpha)-tan(beta)]/[1+tan(alpha)*tan(beta)]

    So substituting alpha = DAO and beta= EOA
    tan( DAF )= (1-1/2)/(1+1/2) = 1/3

    I suspect there may be easier ways. Anyone?

    therefore tangent DAE= 1/3 and len(AF)=len(AD)*sqrt(1+1/9)= a*sqrt(5/3)

  • RAB

    Arghh! the last line of my comment #54 was included unintentionally. It has two mistakes (=typos).

    It should have read:

    “therefore tan(DAF) = 1/3 and len(AF)=len(AD)*sqrt(1+1/9)= sqrt(1/2)*a*sqrt(10/9) = a*sqrt(5)/3.”


  • Ivan

    The triangle question… can be answered with little to no math. All you need to know is that both a and b are the same and with a little of test taking know how you can get that question.

    Secondly every one takes exams it part of of ever education system.Every country has exams the determine if you get in to university or not just Americans can buy their way through that all. Yah these questions might look a bit unfamiliar, well that is because we aren’t in their system.

  • Martin Mellish

    In response to post #50 by Art&B: you’re right, my bad. I was starting from tan EAO = 1/2, which is stated in the question, then applying the formula for COS(A-B). I get the same result as RAB and everyone else.

  • Martin Mellish

    In answer to post 56 by Ivan: the answer marked correct on the test (E) can indeed be obtained with a little math and a little knowledge of test taking. That answer is, however, INCORRECT. Putting down the correct answer, found by RAB, would require genuine math skills, independent thinking, and courage, and would cost you marks on the test. Perhaps there is a niche for the West after all – we are more inclined to work things out for ourselves, from first principles. Hopefully that will survive modern tendencies to ‘teach to the test’.

  • djk

    What does question #6.5 mean – the city that crosses 2 continents??

  • Martin Mellish

    djk (#59). Istanbul is on the Bosphorus: the northwestern half of it is in Europe, the south-eastern half in Asia.

  • Me

    ugh. i only got 4 questions right. some of them seem like they could have more than one answer.

    those aren’t the sorts of things i learn about in school…

  • DL Li

    The answer for the triangle problem says (E), but I have checked my solution at least 10 times. I have come to the solution the answer is (G).

    This solution does not use any trigonometry. Check my work. My original solution was in terms of the length of the side of the square.

    (AE)^2 = (a/2)^2 + (a/4)^2
    (AE)^2 = a^2 / 4 + a^2 / 16
    (AE)^2 = 5a^2 / 16

    Draw a perpendicular down from E to AD.

    Let the length of that be h. You can see that AD is split into two segments. Let the longer segment be length of a and the shorter be length of b.

    a^2 + h^2 = 5a^2 / 16
    b^2 + h^2 = a^2 / 16

    Subtract and factor

    (a + b)(a – b) = a^2 / 4

    a + b = a/(sqrt 2)

    (a/(sqrt 2))(a – b) = a^2 / 4
    a – b = (a sqrt 2) / 4

    a + b = (a / sqrt 2)
    a – b = (a sqrt 2) / 4
    2a = (3a) / (2 sqrt 2)
    a = 3a / (4 sqrt 2)
    b = a / (4 sqrt 2)
    h = a / (4 sqrt 2)

    a / h = (a + b) / DF
    3 = (a / sqrt 2) / DF
    DF = a / (3 sqrt 2)

    a^2 / 18 + a^2 / 2 = (AF)^2
    10a^2 / 18 = (AF)^2
    5a^2 / 9 = (AF)^2
    (a sqrt 5) / 3 = AF

    Hence, (G) is the correct answer.

    Not a hard problem.

  • Eoin

    This quiz was even easier than an AP exam. It only requires a little thought and logic. And knowledge of the Olympics (though I don’t understand why an intellectual/student would be paying attention to the Olympics. Who has time?).

    I assume that the actual examination runs 3-4 hours, again, about the same as an AP.

    I realize that many/most American high school students don’t work hard in school, but I certainly do, and so do quite a large proportion of students in my school and in other schools in my city. In some of the comments above, many adults seem to be shocked at the workload the people interviewed have, but it sounds about standard. The senior-year workload in that school is about equivalent to the workload of 2nd term soph, through junior, to 1st term senior (that range is the top of the bell curve in workload, though it probably peaks April/May junior year).

    In the interview at the end of the programme, the man asked if American parents should be afraid. I don’t understand that at all. What is there to be afraid of if someone is doing well? I’m just as perturbed as Vanessa [last name forgotten] seemed to be.

    On the square question: The answer is E ONLY IF the model is to scale. In a square, the diagonals are equal in length. AEF appears to bisect DEO at E, but this is not stated in the givens. If that is the case, then AEF = 3/4 AC = 3/4 BD. However, if that is not true, then G is the correct answer, or rather “Not enough information” is the proper choice.

    Note: Though Australia is technically an island, it is not ‘officially’ considered one.



    Innovation is based on both luck and hard work. It was luck, or chance, that caused Dr Benedictus to drop the flask, but it was his own ingenuity and hard work that led him to explore why it did not shatter, understand the phenomenon, and exploit it in other applications. This is true of almost every innovation. Archimedes understood the nature of water displacement through his own mental prowess, but it was chance that he paid attention to his bathtub that time and not another (according to the famous legend, that is). If one wishes to be innovative, one must first educate oneself in the laws of physics, or of medicine, or of any field, but then immerse oneself in possibility. Only by seeking out phenomena one does not understand and then seeking to understand it can one innovate. Yet no matter how intelligent one is, or how hard one works, it is still chance that determines the outcome. As shown in the Wide Angle episode, a child born into a disadvantaged family must work much harder than a child born into an affluent family to achieve the same results. Anyone can use his or her mind, but one must be given the opportunity to use it innovatively.

  • RAB

    DL Li(#62) provides correct reasoning to get the correct answer without using any trigonometry
    functions or formulas. This is good since in my country many students applying for
    university haven’t been taught trigonometry. I wonder if the Chinese students taking the
    test have been taught it.

    Eoin(#63), you made a mistake measuring the length AF in the square, of more than a half percent.
    The true answer (see #2) doesn’t depend on distortions in your ruler, the thickness of your
    pencil, stretches in the paper or the keenness of your eyesight. Eoin, your answer of 3/4 is
    too big by a factor exactly equal the square root of 81/80. It’s wrong, but I can understand
    how a multiple-answer question encourages guessing.

  • Penny

    The sample test is too simplfied. Both Taiwanese and Chinese school systems are full of propaganda memorizations.(I am from Taiwan.) It is a system like chicken sold in American grocery stores, headless and feetless. America is trying to copy what works for China(That’s the frustrating part. My boy’s 2nd grade Stanford Test (homeschool version) has a social study question like this, “What is the name of the lady that refued to give up her seat to the White passenger in the bus?” Yes!! on 2nd grade test!! See, America is a big melting pot which is full of different ethnic backgrounds. Is it fair for other ethnic students in standarized tests? Why the history textbooks has little mention about “the Trail of Tears” if America is not playing the favortism on African Americans?

  • fool is the way to go

    The documentary was very interesting, but when I took this little sample tests my opinion change.
    If this is true sampler of the kind of questions that they have to answer than I’m not impress.
    Any American junior or senior could take this test and get comparable scores to that of any Chinese student.
    In my opinion multiple choices test don’t really test the knowledge of a student so they are not a reliable method to determine the intelligence of an individual.
    Take me for example, I took my act’s while half asleep with a bit of a hangover and I did not so much as open a book to study for them and I still manage to get high scores, I had the one of the highest score in my class (a graduating class of over 400). If on the other hand that had been a test where you are required to show your work and show actual knowledge of the subject I would have failed miserably.

  • Pointer

    Dear “Fool is the way to go”: It is an English translation sample. Some intellecual contents has already skimmed off in order to let the American viewers feel good about themselves!! We don’t want to beat ourselves down too much, do we? Try to read the original test in Chinese!!

  • Suoyang Hou

    This sample test is WAY too easy…I saw the test my cousin took last year and it was SOOOOO hard…no wonder no one ever gets the perfect score.

    The test doesn’t just require you to be good at math and chinese but also updated on the current events and such.

    Glad i didn’t have to take it.

  • mckenzie

    well, if i had studied these subjects, i might have done well. =]

  • Cody hough

    i bombed this thing i’d hate to have to take this test i’d be shoveling crude for the rest of my life

  • polly

    Essay answer:

    In life, sometimes mistakes can lead to great opportunity. Except in China. Students, please don’t tear up this test!

  • Xian

    I don’t understand why my earlier comments are not posted. The links I referred to are in the website listed as in additional web resources. Just that the interface is Chinese so it’s impossible for non-chinese readers to access it. Just as Suoyang Hou said before, this test don’t really represent the actual test. Especially with comments suggesting that the math portion don’t have workout problems and the scale or mix of the actually test is similar that of this sample test. (or question about lit/art or science in the sample test, but it is half of gaokao). I understand why the sample test is the way it is, as it is just sample test for everyone is take. As I said in my earlier comment, it is important for everyone to see the actual 2008 Gaokao, as many can a real test convey.

  • Xian

    polly, cool answer. But as creative as someone in Jiangxi’s.
    Essay questions, Using the 2007 Dongting rat’s disasters (billions of wild rats runs into fields as Donting lake flooded) as background, write a letter a response from the rats to rat’s natural predictor.
    The students brilliant answer:
    Titile: Zhizhi and Gaga

    zhizhihizhiz zhizhizhi zhizhizhizhi zhizhizhi (imagine this repeated 800 times)


    Owl’s Repose
    gagaga gagaga gagaga ga gagaga (imagine this repeated 800 times)


    Of course this essay got a zero on the test, but the test end up on the internet. The student is regarded a genius is celebrity, at least in the blogspere…

  • Haunted Napkin

    Presenting the best all time invention, The Vending Machine Vending Machine–it’s a vending machine that vends vending machines! Great idea! I want money now! Thanks!

  • MIT

    within the question i do not understand how one can say answer in not above, both A and C are correct in the problem. each answer will give the same amount with in the equation, which means a and b ere equal therefore both A and C are correct.

  • D. Mee

    I think G should be the right answer for Q#4… And it took me five minutes to figure it out, even though I studied advance math for graduate students in United States. Back in high school when I was in China it shouldn’t cost me more than one minute…

    Very simple, triangle AEB and DEF are symmetrical (because lines AB and CD are in parallel, and AEB=DEF), and we could easily know DE=1/3BE, then DE=1/3AB. Since we know AB=a/sqrt(2), we know DE, and we know AD=AB, then the value of AE is very easy to calculate.

  • R. Towa

    Well, I didn’t study high school in China but I studied it in Africa, we do learn trig in high school, and I had to rely on a theorem of Thales to come up with the answer and yes, I agree, the answer for question # 4 is (G), here’s how I got it:
    I started by finding the length AE, which is sqrt[(1/4)*a^2+(1/16)*a^2]=a*sqrt(5)/4; from that, I use the basic theorem of Thales recognizing that the angle AEB is the same as the angle DEF and that we know EB=(3/4)*a, ED=(1/4)*a and AE from our derivations above so that the only segment that is unknown is the segment EF, as such, the tangents of the angles AEB and DEF are the same and expressed as followed:
    [(3/4)*a/(3/4)*a]=[(1/4)*a/x], wherein x represents the unknown segment EF, which could easily be solved for and added to the previous segment AE and we obtain the answer a*sqrt(5)/3 without much of a hassle or eternal head scratching. Who said only chinese schools were difficult? I think the rest of the world follows that model, survival of the fittest brains. And yeah, even in the U.S., the future of most people is determined by age 17 or 18, the entire documentary was based on kids who wanted to enter two schools only (the best schools obviously) where only the best of the best could enter. The equivalent to that scenario in the U.S. is a situation where most of America’s students wanted to enter MIT, Harvard or Stanford; hence, the students constant comparison with Harvard and MIT. The show does say or claim that those that fail to enter those schools are doomed for life like some here interpret it to say. In the U.S., if by 18 or so, one fails to make an impact with their hard earned grade, participation in countless extracurricular activity, and a perfect SAT score, with college admissions’s constant quest for the well-rounded students, I’d say that kid is doomed for life as well (that is if that’s dream included admission to Harvard, MIT, or Stanford). They’d have to attend a less prestigious school (i.e. not Harvard or MIT or Stanford). As such, the real difference is two-folds, in the U.S., we’re not hung up on the Harvards and MITs of this world, our local community college or university is good enough. The second aspect is basic economics, as the interviewee said at the end of the show, they are not that many white collar jobs in China, hence, the students best chance to achieve them comes from entering a university with the caliber of Harvard or MIT while in the U.S., we still earn decent money doing a white collar job with our degrees from any other school. Those two are the take-home message from the show from my view.
    In fact, last year, there was a controversy over the rejection from MIT of an extremely brilliant asian american student, who mind you, had a perfect GPA, perfect SAT, etc. Yet, the student didn’t achieve his life-long goal of making it MIT. I’m sure he’d say that he had as much pressure as all the students in this show. Life just isn’t easy or fair. We all know that.

  • Di

    I really appreciated this documentary for bringing an understanding of the differences between cultures. As was mentioned in other comments, and was hinted at in the documentary, China’s education is learning from the US to favor more creative tests and individuals. Hopefully that goes well. I’m very happy to see from the documentary the new generation of Chinese people who are going into the government. She is very well educated, positively motivated, and from an agrarian family no less! The current government still has remnants from the Cultural Revolution, but as education changes and new generations move in, the direction of national policy will automatically shift as well.

    I however, dislike the animosity in some of the comments posted. I especially disliked the obviously hostile approach of the interviewer at the end. If a documentary is aimed towards building mutual understanding, then ending with such a biased and negative interview leaves only a negative lasting impression despite the bulk aim of the documentary.

    P.S. The class president girl is cute.

  • tyler

    The test dosent require you to be up to date in curren events, only history. I remember learning about the silk road in like sixth grade. I also think its funny how communist ideology underlies some of the test questions. any way more power to chinese highschool students. anyone studying more than 7 hours a day in collage is considered a nerd obsessed with a 4.0.

  • michael shen

    if you calculate using trig, answer comes out slightly less than 0.75a: 0.7453a. so I don’t know if you are supposed to round off things, but if not the answer is G.

  • michael shen

    on a second thought there is a simpler method. if you draw a perpendicular from E to AD, and call it G. then it is the easiest to use the ratio method since angle A is shared by two triangles of interest: GAE and DAF, and since GE and DF are paralell and are perpendicular to AD, we can set the following master ratio equation:
    AG/AE = AD/AF

    ok to find the individual piece:
    AG is 3/4 of AD
    AE is easily obtained with Pathagoreon theory with given
    AD is sqrt2*a/2
    AF is unknown,

    better yet, once you realize the two triangles sharing that angel, and the fact that AG is 3/4 AD, it is easily solved…answer is sqrt5/3 * a, so G is the answer, which is exactly 0.7453ish

  • Georgio

    I disagree with luxury goods answer.

    In most cases Luxury goods require more specialized labor than general merchandise. But can you make that blanket assumption about all goods? Take Nike shoes for example that retail for much more than other brands. I guess if you define marketing as specialized labor then they have a point but I think the more correct answer would be that there is a higher perceived value in the product, making consumers willing to pay a higher price regardless of the underlying cost.

  • sally

    I am really sorry for the Chinese students. The kids are smart and dedicated, but the exam they have to take is too poor in quality. All that time and energy has been spent on learning irrelevant and shallow material. If I was a student in China, I would run to Russia for my education. China is waaay behind in its education policy!!!!

  • Fermi

    I used mass points on ADC to find that AF = 4/3 AE
    Then Pyth theorem on triangle AOE gave AE = sqrt(5)/4.
    So AF = 4/3 (sqrt(5)/4) = sqrt(5)/3

  • Mike

    These may be poor translation from Chinese language.

    gao-kao is much more difficult than SAT. Many American students, if competing by gao-kao, would not be qualified for admission to universities in China.

    All tests are in 100% Chinese – the only official language of China.

  • Fengzee

    I am a Chinese student. I think I know why question 4 – the geometry problem – puzzles you so much.

    According to what I have learnt in China, I think some of you are right that the question is mis-stated. Actually “a” and “b” are not real numbers indicating length of sections, instead they are vectors which have both length and direction. And a method called “the triangle principle (this phrase is in the Chinese way)” is used to determain how to add up two vectors to get another vector as result. So, the question is in fact asking us to use a and b as a pair of “bases” to express vector AF.

    I believe in this way of understanding, B should be the perfect answer. Have any of you figured out why DF:CF is 1:2 (in length), the vector part of the question should not be too difficult.

  • Saundra Broca

    If you think this test is tough, you need to see the sheer amount of information they pack into a tenth grade examination in the Private schools in India. (Unlike China, India does not have a very good Public school system.) The Indian public school is gruelling. Even though the Indian parents do not pressure their children the way the Chinese parents do their wards, the competition to be selected for the elite Indian Institute of Management, Indian Institute of Technology, National Institute of Design, National Institute of Fashion Technology, XLRI, St. Stephen’s College and St. Xavier’s College etc. is pretty demanding. The advantage is that there is a fair emphasis on rote learning upto the high school graduation … and then a gradual loosening of the strings, so to speak, for creativity in graduate and post graduate institutions. Its quite another matter that most Indian talent, until recently, has migrated to the West to find an open forum for their skills and creativity. This is changing in India. I hope that PBS does a documentary on this interesting phenomenon in India as well.

  • Will

    For question 4, as length a and length b are the same, answer A= answer C, and answer B = answer D, therefore logically the only possible correct answers are E,F,G.
    However, as none of the other questions can be answered logically – because they all depend on Communist Party propaganda – I can see why Fengzee states B as the answer; the Communist Party definition of “length” is not the same as the definition of “length” used by the rest of the world.

  • Julie

    For the math question, I also get sprt(5)/3

    As for the first 3, they aren’t subjective… they apply economic principles… so I think they are valid.

    The only question that I had a problem with was the question about where the torch was in Autumn. I hardly see how that is related to anything, but every other question was something you could figure out.

    Also, Australia is NOT an island. The largest landmass officially classified as an island is Greenland. Australia is called an “island continent” sometimes, but that’s not geologically correct.

    I think bashers on here are simply uneducated.

    Even luxury brands are switching to manufacturing in China. Why? Obviously, to maximize profits… If they can produce the same goods for cheaper, why not?

    You can’t just look at items in Walmart and say “oh, it’s made in China… so all Chinese stuff must be crap.”

    It’s because you’re shopping at Walmart!! The reason it’s so cheap is because they pay unskilled laborers at low wages… Oh hey, what do you know? It’s related to the first question…

    Next time to buy brands like Dolce & Gabbana, Prada, Armani or Bally… just to let you know, they now are manufactured in China. They may try to hide it with some “touch ups” in other countries, but the bulk of the item is made in China.

  • jay

    i am Chinese. and i have taken a gaokao text already. even though the score is not very high. but not so bad. about the question above. it is not the difficult question in the whole text. like the math. like this question it will only take us 3 to solve it.
    to me the score is not important. the most value is the experience in this three years. i have ever tried my best to do one thing. i have a goal to entrance a satisfied university. it is really a wonderful experience. i so lucky that i am Chinese and i have chance to take the test.this kind of passion. this kind of desire. you would never know until you try it.

  • John

    That essay question is missing that all important word that all students dread: DISCUSS!

  • Ben

    I thought these questions were stupid. But then again, I thought the questions on the SATs were stupid, too.

  • Chelsea

    I don’t know anything about china’s market or the Olympics so I had to guess.

  • Kisha

    I think this test is absolutely ridiculous!!!!!!

  • Kennia Martin

    this test is hard like seriously

  • LaTasha Clark

    This test was very interesting to me because if these questions are questions that relate to what is being taught in China then i need to study a little more because some of the questions i never heard the information before.

  • LaTasha Clark

    The test was very interesting to me because i knew the common sense questions you could say but the questions referring to China’s history i knew very little about

  • Ashley

    This was confusing!

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