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China’s Dream Schools

As another year’s gaokao season starts, here are China’s most searched universities online

In less than a week, a final-year high school students in China will undergo the most stressful and destiny-changing event of their lives—the gaokao.

The gaokao represents the culmination of a student’s primary and secondary education, and a student’s exam results directly impacts their fate from here on. Of course, it is possible to still achieve greatness despite miserable academic failure, and many have tried to come up with ways to bypass traditional routes to good grades, but for most this examination period will make or break their future university and career paths.

The system behind the gaokao and for calculating your target score is fairly complicated—the score needed for one student may not be the same for another. But in essence, it is a combination of four factors: the university the student wishes to enter, the major, student’s household registration area, and other arbitrary quirks a school might adopt in their scoring system. The minimum score acceptable for each institution changes every year, as it’s based on the scores achieved by all students who took the exam that year, and yes, different regions have different scoring standards, though most have a maximum of 750 points.

So while, students are busy cramming the last vestiges of information into their brain in the hopes of some retainment before next week, most will also be looking into their dream institutions of higher learning, perhaps as a motivational tool.

We take a look at the ten most searched-for universities in China and what kind of grades would be needed to enter.**

10. Sichuan University

Location: Chengdu, Sichuan

Known for: Engineering and sciences

Minimum required gaokao score (i.e. the lowest grade achieved by an enrolled student last year): 594

Notable associates: Ba Jin, one of the most widely read and important Chinese writers of the 20th century

Global ranking (according to QS World University Rankings 2016/2017): 551-600

9. Xiamen University

Location: Xiamen, Fujian

Known For: Management

Minimum required score: 576

Notable associates: Faye Wong, Chinese singer-songwriter

Global Rank: 451-460

8. Nanjing University

Location: Nanjing, Jiangsu

Known for: Its long history

Minimum required score: 385

Notable associates: Chang Cheh, “Father of new gongfu cinema” and “Godfather of Hong Kong cinema”

Global Rank: 115

7. Shandong University

Location: Jinan, Shandong

Known for: Physics, mathematics, medicine

Minimum required score: 592

Notable associates: Xiang Huaicheng, economist and former minister of finance of China

Global rank: 501-550

6. Fudan University

Location: Shanghai

Known for: Being extremely selective

Minimum required score: 512

Notable associates: Cao Guowei, CEO of Sina

Global rank: 43

5. Zhejiang University

Location: Hangzhou, Zhejiang

Known for: Research in science and technology

Minimum required score: 597

Notable associates: Tsung-dao Lee, Nobel laureate in Physics (1957)

Global rank: 110

4. Sun Yat-sen University

Location: Guangzhou, Guangdong

Known for: Being named after the “Father of Modern China”

Minimum required score: 508

Notable associates: Xing Ming, founder and president of Chinese internet forum Tianya Club

Global rank: 297

3. Wuhan University

Location: Wuhan, Hubei

Known for: A beautiful campus

Minimum required score: 600

Notable associates: Lei Jun, founder of Chinese tech company Xiaomi Tech

Global Rank: 275

2. Peking University

Location: Beijing

Known for: Birthing influential figures in Chinese history

Minimum required score: 606

Notable associates: Mao Zedong, the man on the Chinese money, who worked in the university library

Global rank: 39

1. Tsinghua University

Location: Beijing

Known for: A heavily skewed male-to-female student ratio

Minimum required score: 679

Notable alumni: Xi Jinping, your friendly neighborhood uncle

Global Rank: 24

**Note: the “lowest score” we use is simply the mark achieved by the lowest-scoring student who actually ended up enrolling at the institution last year, but does not mean that anyone who could score above that number last year was guaranteed admission. This is because the exam questions as well as scoring standards vary by region, and there may be preference given to students from a university’s home region or affirmative action for students from remote are and ethnic minority groups. Also, different departments within a university will have different admission standards. Confused yet?

Cover image is of Wuhan University, the consensus most beautiful uni campus in China, from bendibao.com


Ethan Yun is a contributing writer at The World of Chinese.

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