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Meritocracy and Its Discontents – Anxiety and the National College Entrance Exam in China - Cornell Scholarship Online
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Meritocracy and Its Discontents: Anxiety and the National College Entrance Exam in China

Zachary M. Howlett


This book investigates the wider social, political, religious, and economic dimensions of the Gaokao, China's national college entrance exam, as well as the complications that arise from its existence. Each year, some nine million high-school seniors in China take the Gaokao, which determines college admission and provides a direct but difficult route to an urban lifestyle for China's hundreds of millions of rural residents. But with college graduates struggling to find good jobs, some are questioning the exam's legitimacy — and, by extension, the fairness of Chinese society. Chronicling the e ... More

Keywords: Gaokao, college entrance exam, Chinese colleges, Chinese college admission, Chinese society, Chinese social hierarchy, rite of passage

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2021 Print ISBN-13: 9781501754432
Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: September 2021 DOI:10.7591/cornell/9781501754432.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

Zachary M. Howlett, author
Yale-NUS College