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Gaokao 2021: A review of Chinese essay writing

Gaokao, officially called as Chinese national college entrance examination, is the largest scholastic examination in China. It is not just a significant event for thousands of hundreds of Chinese students who are struggling for their bright future, but also a nationwide focus as the topics of Chinese essay writing always cause national pondering.

Scheduled at the beginning of June every year, Gaokao normally lasts for two days. An additional day might be required depending on the province. With successively four exams over this period, examinees have to take Chinese, Math, English, and selected subjects varying from physical, chemistry, biology to history, politics, geography, according to personal choices.

Chinese is the first exam, which includes single choice questions, multiple-choice questions, fill-in-the-blanks questions, ancient article translation questions, short answer questions, essay writing, etc. Above all, Chinese essay writing is the most important section as it takes up 60 out of 150.

In the writing section, a brief paragraph is given to frame the argumentative scope. The examinees are required to extract the core points from the short paragraph and extend them to an 800-word essay based on their experience, knowledge, recognition, values, and how they perceive and understand the core points that the paragraph implies.

The introduction brief of the topic is always insightful, literary, philosophic, sententious, circuitous. Sometimes it is clinging to the theme of China’s future development or coming from a common social phenomenon that people are accustomed to. The main objectives of essay writing are to estimate the students’ moral quality and enlighten their ideology and ethics.

In 2021 Nationwide Exam Paper A, the brief guides the candidates to review inheritance of red genes, national ideals, and beliefs by a quick citing of the revolutionary martyrs, national heroes, scientists at the beginning, putting forward the key concept of success. Then, it highlights the youth's responsibility and China’s future development to arouse examinees’ thinking of what is the real definition of success nowadays, what kind of success should be encouraged to pursue, and how can we seize the opportunities to be a successful person under the context of the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.

In 2021 Nationwide Exam Paper B, the topic is similar but emphasizing more on how to achieve the ideal. A Chinese ancient saying was quoted in the introduction, illustrating the relationship between basis, methods, paths, goals, which implies wisdom that as long as we continue to strengthen self-cultivation, correct our thinking, and take "righteousness" as a goal, and put it into action, we will be on the way to success. The candidates are asked to express their personal opinions toward this old saying.

Nationwide New Exam Paper A is citing Mao Zedong’s dialectical viewpoints of powerful individuals and powerless individuals to raise the relativity of strong and weak. Students need to reason the viewpoints systematically.

As for Beijing Paper, it offers two options. Topic one is throwing a question about the causality between the era and the path of life, as some pessimistic people hold an opinion that they are doomed to fail because of being born in the wrong era, thus, they are doomed to fail no matter what path of life they choose. Students are asked to discuss this opinion. Topic two is centered on the perspective of maturity. It is said that when the melons fall from plants, or the birds grow thick feathers, it means maturity. However, for human beings, Maturity is rather than body changes. The candidates have to give their understanding of maturity.

In terms of Tianjin Paper, it integrates the event of the 100th anniversary of CCP into the topic to cause people’s thinking of the meaning and functions of setting up Memorial Day.

Shanghai Paper is questioning the philosophical relationship between time and value while Zhejiang Paper is asking examinees’ to argue about the concept of loss and win.

It is a typical character that Chinese essay topics are in philosophical depth. Although questions are set for senior-three students, they are also challenging and intriguing questions for those beyond.

Suppose that you are a sitting candidate, what would be your essay corresponding to those meaningful questions above? Take time to think of them and it will never be a waste but help sublimate your spirit and ideology level.

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