The Gaokao (which translates roughly as the high test) is China’s National Higher Education Entrance Examination (NCEE), akin to the SAT in the United States. During the once a year offering of the gaokao, the entire country holds its collective breath – forbidding honking, halting construction and rerouting airplanes and funerals in test taking areas are among the ways in which the population chips in to help students concentrate.
While no US Colleges or Universities have yet taken the leap of accepting gaokao scores for entrance qualification (that I am aware of as of this writing), the same is not true elsewhere around the world. In Australia, the University of New South Wales (UNSW) announced recently that it will accept gaokao scores for direct entrance into undergraduate programs into several disciplines. UNSW joins the University of Sydney and the University of Adelaide in accepting gaokao scores for admission.
The gaokao is a key to open the door to university admission in China. However, a high score on the gaokao is not a guarantee of admission, even within China. Students looking for admission to colleges and universities in the US must take the SAT – which is offered overseas six times per year.