Chinese education bosses sacked after public outcry over manipulated gaokao results

Chinese education bosses sacked after public outcry over manipulated gaokao results

Investigation confirms students' and parents' suspicions that grades were distorted and results unfair after wrong policy decision


Chinese students in Handan, Hebei province, studying late into the night for their college entrance exams, commonly known as gaokao; this is a time of enormous pressure for students, as results can determine their future.
Photo: EPA

Two top education officials have been fired while another two are under investigation amid accusations that grades were manipulated in China’s college entrance exams.

Authorities in eastern China’s Zhejiang province launched an investigation following public protests last month over the results of English language test results in the exams, commonly known as gaokao. Protesters complained of unfairness and questioned the scores.

On Wednesday the provincial government announced on social media that an inquiry committee, headed by provincial governor Yuan Jiajun, had concluded there had been a “wrong policy decision” by the Zhejiang Education Department.

5 tips from a psychologist on how to study more effectively

The grades of many students had been distorted as a result, leading to unfairness.

The committee called the decision a “serious mistake” and said the original test scores would be reinstated.

There was public praise for the investigation result, with many commenters saying that justice had been restored.

Face Off: should universities have their own entrance exams?

Guo Huawei, Communist Party chief of the Zhejiang Education Department, was asked to resign. The party chief of the exam authority Wang Yuqing and its disciplinary head Chen Yujun were both sacked and put under investigation, while Sun Heng, head of the exam department, was summoned to an admonitory interview with the provincial watchdog.

The exam scandal began on November 24, when results for the English gaokao exam were released, prompting many students and parents to question the grading method.

Some students, who had fared well on objective test questions, such as multiple choice, lost more points on essay questions, leading to a wide-ranging public outcry and suggestions of under-the-table manipulation of grades.

Holidays with no homework improve students' learning abilities and personal development, Hong Kong study finds

In response, the Zhejiang education examination authority issued a statement but this further fuelled public anger.

The authority said that after the tests were graded it had found some of the test questions were significantly harder than the previous year’s. To level the different tests, the committee decided to “curve” the points for some of the reading and essay questions.

Students leaving school on the first day of China’s college entrance exam, or gaokao, in Zhejiang province earlier this year.
Photo: AFP

Many people questioned the principle behind curving the grades and called for more transparency, demanding to know exactly how it was applied.

A week later, on December 1, the Zhejiang provincial government bowed to public opinion and announced that a committee had been established to investigate the matter.

In China, the fate of Chinese high school students is largely decided by the gaokao. The scores on a series of tests, including Chinese, maths and English, determine which universities will accept them.

Under pressure to get perfect grades? It's time to step back from the stress of wanting to be the best, and redefine 'success'

Students are under great pressure to study for the exams and the public keeps a close watch for possible unfairness or corruption.

“Gaokao is a serious ‘war’, parents, students and teachers put in so much effort and money,” one internet user wrote in response to the Zhejiang results. “In the gaokao, every point counts. Is it fair to curve the points?”

“I have been studying until midnight every day and worked so hard that I lost so much of my hair. I was happy with the English exam because I lost only a couple of points on the objective questions, but I only got 136 out of 150, while those who didn’t study got 135, or even 140. How am I supposed to feel?” a student wrote online.

This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: Education chiefs fired after outcry at exam grades


To post comments please
register or

1 comment

Dereck Small


This was the right thing to do in my opinion. I honestly believe that no one should have any influence on exams. Students deserve better and we should provide them with the best educational system possible. I believe that with the help of word counter at we will be able to accomplish is pretty fast. Let's do our job and help them.