Foreign students navigate challenges of yanggaokao

2024-06-24 09:53:06China Daily Editor : Li Yan ECNS App Download

Foreign students from Tongji University's International School in Shanghai take yanggaokaoor "foreigner college entrance exam". (Photo/

Over 200 foreign students from Tongji University's International School in Shanghai sat a rigorous final exam over the weekend, a crucial step on the path to receiving a Chinese government scholarship.

The exam, nicknamed yanggaokaoor "foreigner college entrance exam", assesses the students' progress after a year of preparatory coursework at the school. Passing is a prerequisite for continuing their studies in China on the scholarship program established by the Ministry of Education.

The exam format mirrors China's national college entrance exams, or gaokao. Students tackled subjects such as Chinese language, mathematics, physics and chemistry, all delivered in Mandarin on computer. A listening test further evaluated their language proficiency.

Recognizing the unique challenge of taking exams in a foreign language, the international school faculty organized activities aimed at relieving stress, echoing traditions associated with the gaokao, such as offering encouraging messages and wearing red T-shirts.

"It's definitely difficult," said Guncha Atabayeva, a student from Turkmenistan. "Taking the exam in Chinese is a whole other challenge compared to my native language." Atabayeva aims to continue her studies in gynecology at Guangzhou Medical University.

"We understand the pressure these students face, studying abroad and taking exams in their second or even third language," said Zong Qian, vice-president of the international school. "Our teachers are dedicated to their success, staying late to offer additional support and guidance."

Zong, wearing a traditional qipao dress, symbolizing victory, personally greeted students and offered words of encouragement before the exam. The qipao has become a popular symbol of good luck for students facing important exams.

Claire Maria Kanga Moukendi, a student from the Republic of Congo, received a personalized Coca-Cola can with her Chinese name on it, a small token of support from the school. "I trust my teachers and myself," she said confidently after completing the exam. "They've prepared us well, and I believe I did well."

Since 2009, Tongji University's preparatory program has welcomed over 3,300 international students from over 100 countries. The program offers a valuable gateway for international students to pursue higher education opportunities in China.


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