These questions from the 2014 Chinese college entrance exam will melt your mind

Beijing,Daniel Zhang: Last Saturday marked first time ever that the Chinese college entrance examination, Gaokao (高考) was hosted at the same time as its US counterpart, the SAT (Scholastic Assessment Test). Although two tests are in completely different formats, they both have one section in common,the essay/composition.

These questions from the 2014 Chinese college entrance exam will melt your mind

Image credit the author: Daniel Zhang

We’ve compiled a list of Gaokao composition topics from different regions in China this year and translated them into English to give you a sense of just how damn cryptic they are.


“In the old days, there were many old rules and codes of conduct, like speaking in a quiet and gentle voice, greeting elder people on sight, and standing or sitting straight up. Recently, some people online shared these “old rules” that parents used to require them to obey, a topic which became widely discussed among Chinese netizens.
Plan and write your understanding on this phenomena.”


“You can choose your own road and method to make it across the desert, which means you are free; you have no choice but finding a way to make it across the desert, which makes you not free.
Choose your own angle and title to write an article that is not less than 800 words.”

Sichuan Province:

“The world belongs to you only after you stand up.
Please choose your own angle and write about your thoughts on this sentence.”

Jiangsu Province:

“Some people say that nothing but the youth is immortal; someone say that the young people do not believe that they are going to die some days. This kind of thought is naïve. We keep telling ourselves and believing that there is actually some kind of eternity like the nature.
Please read the material and write an article.”

Fujian Province:

“When you mention “valley”, some people will think of “cliffs,” and others might think of “the ancient Chinese wrestle road along the cliff.”
Write a topic composition on this sentence that is no less than 800 words.”

Anhui Province:

“The artists say that the actors are allowed to change the screenplay, but the directors say that they are not.
Choose your own angle and talk about what’s your understanding and views on this topic.”

Hunan Province:

“There was one a place where everyone was very poor. Most of the people who worked here left after two years. However, someone stayed for years and turned it into the most beautiful village with the others.
Write an argumentative article or a descriptive article on this topic.”

Guangdong Province:

“In the era of black and white films, there were not many photos. Although these photos only recorded a few magical moments of our lives, we enjoy reviewing them and they bring back precious memories. However, these old photos always got fate and yellow after years. And now, in the era of digital technology, there are tons of photos which record every seconds of our lives. They can be uploaded to share online and they never get fate or yellow. However, as the speed of people reviewing these photos goes up, these memories are not that “precious” anymore.
Choose your own angle and write an article on this topic.”

Liaoning Province:

“Grandfather and grandson are watching views from the top of the hill. The grandson says that the Neon Light is really beautiful, because it makes the city colorful. The grandfather says back when the neon light didn’t exist, people are able to see the stars in the sky which are more beautiful.”

Read the article and write summery