Test Pressure

A post from our new employee, Ryan:

There’s an important test in the near future. Students have been preparing for it for what seems like their entire adolescent lives. The results of this exam will go a long way in deciding admission or denial to their chosen higher education institutions. The pressure is immense, and seemingly nothing else matters. Know the feeling? I’m sure you do. But it’s not the SAT that I’m speaking of. Nope, not the ACTeither. The test is called Gaokao (高考), and to the education system I encountered while living in China, it is a test that means everything.

Pressure definitely exists for students to produce the desired SAT and ACT score results. However, it is always important to remember that in the admissions process, the test scores are just a portion of how universities evaluate prospective students. While we often focus our discussion on these tests, and they are certainly important, it is also true that there are other ways to influence admissions officers.

This is not the case in China. Admission to Chinese universities is almost wholly dependent on the results of the Gaokao. The exam is administered just once each year, over a 3 day sitting in June. Chinese teachers and students prepare the entire senior year for this potentially life-changing event. There are no do-over’s… one chance, one test, and then it’s time to move on with the rest of your life.

So as you sit down over the course of the next few months to take your own pressure packed SAT or ACT, I have this advice. Relax, take a deep breath, focus, and then allow yourself to smile. Why smile?

Because you are not in China, and this isn’t the Gaokao!


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