Good-o Gaokao: improving Chinese student uni admissions 

Australian universities use China’s National College Entrance Exam (the Gaokao) for admissions – they can do it better

Helen Hong Yang and Alan Farley (both La Trobe Ucompared the Gaokao with the ATAR as a predictor of student performance in an Australian university’s business degree. This is no mean feat given the bewildering complexity inherent in accessing and analysing data for the two different measures, one a rank, the other an aggregate score, and in different languages and education cultures.

Overall, they conclude the evidence is against using an aggregate Gaokao score as a sole admission criteria for Australian universities. But if adjusted to address gender and to include the Gaokao’s English-language score its predictive power on student performance improves. They found;

* Gaokao scores as now used are much weaker predictors of first year undergraduate performance than ATARs

*  the English language component of the Gaokao has “greater explanatory power” than the aggregate

* women perform better in first year UG courses than men with the same Gaokao. It appears, women “are discriminated against or disadvantaged in the Gaokao process.”

This wold be difficult to do, as Hong Yang and Harley acknowledge. “It may be difficult to justify using gender to differentiate one admission pathway and not others but this approach is strongly supported by almost all research on Gaokao along with much of the research on ATAR,” they write. Bonus admission points for performance on the English language component and gender can make the Gaokoa almost the equal of the ATAR for locals.

“With appropriate selectiveness and adjustment, the study shows that Gaokao data can be used as a suitable measure for admission directly into degrees in western universities and hence if used appropriately would support the approach of Australia and Canada (and some other countries) provided the key additional factors are considered (gender and preferably Gaokao English),” Hong Yang and Farley propose.


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