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A Pastor's Thoughts on the "Gao Kao"

Chinese Church Voices is a weekly column of the ChinaSource Blog providing translations of original writing by Christians in China. The views represented are entirely those of the original author; inclusion in Chinese Church Voices does not imply or equal an endorsement by ChinaSource.


"Gao Kao" is the colloquial term for the dreaded university entrance exam in China. Held every year in early June, it is the final hurdle for high school students who want to attend university. Here's how an article in the Global Post describes it:

While college-bound American high-school students complain have to sweat through their fair share of tests, nothing in the US compares to the intensity and all-or-nothing stakes of China's dreaded gaokao.

Over the next two days, more than 9 million graduating Chinese students will take the gaokao, or "high test," the results of which will determine what university they can attend, or if they can attend college at all.The test is so grueling that students have been known to hook themselves up to IV bags full of amino acids to fuel marathon study sessions, and exam sites have banned everything from bras to mobile phones. Consisting of sections of math, science, English and Chinese, the gaokao lasts nine hours over two days. Perhaps the most dreaded section is an 800-character essay that is supposed to test a students writing and thinking ability.

In the run-up to the exam earlier this month the mainland website Gospel Times ran an article about a sermon given by a pastor to encourage Christian parents whose children were about to take the exam.

The annual college entrance examination is around the corner, and students across the country have spent a long time preparing for it. Their three years of high school have been in preparation for this important moment in their life. Since the education system in China is exam-oriented, both parents and students treat the exam as a turning point in a students life; this results in tremendous pressure on the students. Recently, the pastor from Heart-to-Heart Church in Hangzhou shared a message of how Christian parents can help their children relieve the pressure of the exam.

The concern over the entrance examination has swept the entire nation, and it has even caught the attention of many Christians. Even the famous Christian singer Jay Chou sent his blessings to students through an interview, expressing that they will do well on the exam.

Recently the Heart-to-Heart Church invited Pastor Wu from Lishui to preach. While sharing the message of how to trust God, the pastor talked about how Christian parents can help their children to reduce the pressure of the exam.

The college entrance exam today is not simply an issue for the students; it has become a big issue for the entire family. Sometimes, parents even worry more and feel more pressure than the child. Many parents will even accompany their children during the three-day exam.

Pastor Wu put forward two suggestions for parents to help their children relieve their stress:

1Pray and praise with your child and deliver the exam into Gods hands.

When parents and a child are faced with stress, parents should pray with their child always and praise God. At the same time, remind the child to leave the results of the exam into Gods hands and let him know that God is always in control. Besides, parents should help the child relax and not exert pressure on them.

Pastor Wu emphasized that moderate pressure will help the child succeed, but it should not be too much or too little. During the exam, parents should let their child know that God is the One who controls everything, and that he or she has no need to worry; he should just try his or her best to prepare for the exam, give the rest to God, and wait for Gods will joyfully and peacefully.

2Help the child ease the burden and pressure through exercise.

Pastor Wu believes that during the exam days, parents can take their child to exercise, such as running, taking a stroll, playing ball, and swimming. Exercise can help a child relax. It is futile to review during the exam days. Since all the review should have been done before the exams, it is good to help the child feel relieved by doing some sports.

In addition, Pastor Wu reminded parents that though they hope their child will do well, they should always be thankful and believe that Gods will and and purposed are always for the best.

God answers our prayers in three ways:

  1. Completely fulfill what you have asked.
  2. Fulfill what you havent asked.
  3. Fulfill more than you have asked.

God doesnt give all we have asked because sometimes we pray for the wrong things, but most of the time, God gives us more than we have asked.

Original article: 杭州牧者谈:基督徒父母如何帮助孩子减轻高考压力

Image credit: the student is tired, by AMU Liu, via Flickr

For further reading:

China's Gaokao College Entrance Exams: Extreme Pressure On Students, Boom for Local Businesses (Investor's Business Daily)

Crunch Time for China's High School Seniors (The New York Times)

The Unintended Consequences of China's Ulta High-Stakes College Entrance Exam (Business Week)

ChinaSource Team

Written by members of the ChinaSource staff.  View Full Bio


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