Zhongkao: Senior High School Entrance Examination

The Senior High School Entrance examination is referred to as Zhongkao. It is the academic examination held in the People' s Republic of China to admit junior high school graduates. The examination is a must for entrance into educational institutions at senior high school level. This includes secondary skill schools, vocational and technical high schools as well as common senior high schools. This is taken by students in the last year of junior high school. On an annual basis, numerous students take zhongkao. The published statistics in the website of the Ministry of Education in China (2010) indicates that there are about 18 to 20 million junior high school graduates within 4 years from 2006 to 2010. 

Frequency of the Zhongkao Examination

The Zhongkao is held in early June every year. In some provinces, it takes place in late June or early July. Before the Zhongkao is conducted, every province holds two simulation exams twice. In some provinces, it takes place even 3 times. The Zhongkao is the second examination system to recover following the Cultural Revolution. 

Eligibility for the Zhongkao Examination

As per the school education system in China, students commence with 9 year compulsory education at the age of 6. Many of them stay in elementary schools for 6 years. They complete junior high school in another 3 years. Students in certain districts may also complete elementary school in 5 years and junior high school in 4 years. This includes Shanghai. Following the completion of the ninth grade, all students in China take the Zhongkao. The Zhongkao is a summative assessment of the 9 year compulsory education in China.
Around 90% of junior highs school graduates conitnue their study wherein half attend the senior high schools and the other half are part of secondary vocational schools, according to the Ministry of Education (2010). The results of the Zhongkao decide if students go to senior high school,  ordinary senior high school or vocational school. 

Format of the Zhong Kao

Those students who fail at the Senior High School Entrance Examination cannot graduate from junior high school, even if there are senior high schools that agree to admit them. Failure to graduate from junior highs chool results in the “sending back the document” that indicates the student has not passed the Zhongkao. Some provinces also have the system of make up exams for the Senior High School Entrance Examination. 
From the middle of the 1990s, the Graduate Examination of Junior High School has become separated from the Senior High School Entrance Examination. Some provinces and cities are an exception to this rule. The Senior High School Entrance Examination is conducted by provincial educational examination institutes. Exams are conducted by counties and cities excepting municipalities under the Central Government.  
The Zhongkao is a written exam which incorporates physical education, additional examination and policy additional score. The former are standard scores of the Zhongkao. The policy additional score is added to the Senior High School Entrance Examination for attaining the Triple A student. This is a student speciality gains certificate  provided to children of disabled veterans, minorities and overseas children. The additional points should not exceed more than 30 points. 

Zhongkao Fee & Examination Procedure

Nominal fees are charged for this exam. In fact, the results of the Zhongkao determine the fees that have to be payed for secondary school education. 
Zhongkkao is organized by local educational administrative departments. The papers are set and reviewed by teaching as well as research staff and educational specialists. This test encompasses 3 key subjects namely Chinese, Mathematics and English. In mainland China, there are different subjects and points of difficulty for taking this examination. This exam comprises Chinese, Mathematics, English, Physics, History, Politics, Chemistry and Physical Education. Many places also test biology and geography. Many of the provinces offer the facility of open-book examinations for subjects like history and politics.
The Senior High School Entrance Examination in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region allows non-Han students to bring textbooks while facing an exam in Chinese. 
Each province of China follows a different system for the Beijing Senior High School Entrance examination. In 2006, the exam was separated into Syllabus Examination Paper and Curriculum Standards Examination Paper. The Syllabus Examination Paper follows the curriculum syllabus while the latter is according to the curriculum standard making it more difficult. But in 2008, the exams were returned to a single, unitary system.  The exam is allocated 580 marks, and the full marks of the compositions in the Chinese exam are around 50 points. 
Other municipalities which follow this exam in their own pattern include Shangahi, Chongqing Municipality, Nanjing City, Shenzhen City, Yichang City, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region , Tianjin Municipality , Hebei Province, Zhejiang Province (Curriculum Reform Zone) Heilongjiang Province, Guangzhou City, Harbin City, Huai'an City and Fuzhou City.


The Zhongkao is easier than the gao kao as the difficulties coefficient is 0.1 to 0.8. This exam has a lot of advantages for students such as ease of administration and clear sections. A good mark on the Zhongkao means admission to your preferred high school and may be for a cheaper fees as well.

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