Chinese College-Admissions Exam 2010: Death, Disaster, Cheating, and Fishing

It’s gaokao week in China, with 9.57 million students sitting down for the national college entrance test. Some of this year’s test-pegged news stories:

What’s on the test itself? has a roundup of the national and regional essay questions. The national questions are:

Why chase mice when there are fish to eat? — A cartoon showing one cat chasing a mouse while others eat fish has this as a caption.

Light Reading “A: What is light reading? B: It is reading for the purpose of relaxation, interest, and practicality. Unesco’s selection of April 23 for world reading day arose out of a beautiful legend: April 23 is the date that famed Spanish writer Miguel Cervantes died, and it is also St. George’s Day, celebrated in Catalonia. The legend goes that the knight George slew a dragon, rescued a princess, and was granted a gift in return: a book, representing knowledge and power. Every year on this day, Catalonian women will give a book to their husband or boyfriend, and the men will give a rose in return. Actually, the same day is the date of Shakespeare’s birth and death, and is the birthday of authors such as William Faulkner, Maurice Druon, and Halldó Kiljan Laxness, so it is a fitting and proper choice for world reading day.”

Regional essay prompts include “Morning” (Hunan), “Happiness Is _____” (Liaoning), and “Looking at the Stars With Your Feet on the Ground” (Beijing). For Shanghai, the question is:

Danish fishermen — “When Danes go fishing, they carry with them a ruler. When they catch a fish, they will measure it and toss it back if it is not long enough. They say, ‘Isn’t it better to let the little ones grow up?’ More than two thousand years ago in our country, Mencius said, ‘If fine nets do not enter the pools, there will be more fish and turtles than can be eaten.’ And in fact this principle runs throughout many areas of our lives.”