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Essay topics of China’s university entrance exams: Would you pass the test?

By Kou Jie (People's Daily Online)    17:03, June 07, 2018


China’s annual online brainstorming contest has officially begun, just hours after the essay topics of the gaokao, China’s national college entrance exam, were made public following the exam’s conclusion.

The hashtag “2018GaokaoComposition” garnered over 1.55 billion page views within four hours on Sina Weibo, igniting an online frenzy.

During the 150-minute gaokao exam, students must compose an 800-word essay on a given topic, which accounts for one third of their total test result and varies between provinces. In 2018, eight different essay questions were set in different regions, with some focusing on philosophy and politics, while others encourage students to give play to their imagination and aesthetics.

Do you want to attempt one of the world’s hardest exams? People’s Daily Online has catagorized the topics into three groups. You have sixty minutes to complete the questions. No cheating, no whispering.

1. Topics related to life exploration and reflection

National paper I: (for Henan, Hebei, Shanxi, Jiangxi, Hubei, Hunan, Anhui, Fujian, Guangdong, Shandong provinces)


A letter to 2035


In 2000, which is the year of dragon, humans entered a new century. Millions of millennium babies were born in China.

In 2008, Wenchuan earthquake shattered the nation. The Beijing Olympics kicked off.

In 2018, Millennium babies have now come of age.

Each generation has their own circumstances and turns in life, as well as certain missions and challenges. You’ve grown up with China in a new era, chasing your own dreams alongside our nation. Please write a letter to children living in 2035, to be concealed in a “time capsule.”

Paper for Shanghai:


Being needed


In our daily life, it’s necessary to satisfy certain personal needs, but the feeling of being needed by others is also vital, through which we can reflect our self value. What’s your opinion on such universal feeling? Please write an essay regarding the topic mentioned above.

Paper for Zhejiang Province:


Composition based on given materials


Historically, Zhejiang Province is the birth place of grand philosophical thoughts such as “integration of knowledge and action” and “applying theories to reality”. In the modern era, “Being practical, taking the lead and showing valor” has become the new Zhejiang spirit. Nurtured by our developing local culture, generations of Zhejiang residents have become magnificent legends. As a Zhejiang student who is now at the starting point of your life, what thoughts do you have? Please write an essay based on the given materials.

Paper for Jiangsu Province:




Flowers and birds have their own languages. Language is everywhere in our life. Even life itself, along with sculptures and genes, can be interpreted by language. Languages can make our life colorful, as well as relay information through civilizations. Please write an essay based on the given materials.

2. Topics related to mind-racking philosophy

National paper II: (for Gansu, Qinghai, Heilongjiang, Jilin, Liaoning, Shaanxi, Hainan provinces, Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, Xinjiang Urgur Autonomous Region and Chongqing)


The distribution of bullet holes and the science concealed within them


During WWII, U.S. and British military forces conducted research on the distribution of bullet holes on battered combat aircraft, in an effort to upgrade the jets’ protective capability. Most scientists agreed that the upgrade should focus on areas with most bullet holes, while Ward, a statistician, prevailed over these dissenting views, noting that attention should be paid to the parts with less bullet holes, since if those parts were damaged, the jets would have a smaller chance of returning home. However, his statistics were normally ignored. Later investigation proved Ward’s theories were, in fact, correct. Please write an essay based on the materials.

Paper for Tianjin




There are different kinds of wares in our life. Some of them can serve as containers for all manner of things, the magnificent shape of them and the content within bring out the best in each other. Wares can help people achieve their goals, and only by making delicate wares can a craftsman be called as an inventive master. Such wares can represent tolerance and compatibility, or stand for the pillars of great power. Please write an article based on the given materials.

3. Topics related to Chinese politics and society

National paper III: (for Tibetan Autonomous Region, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region,Guizhou, Sichuan, Yunnan provinces)


The trilogy of reform and opening up


Time is money, efficiency is life —— slogan for Shenzhen special zone, 1981

Lucid waters and lush mountains are invaluable assets —— slogan for Zhejiang Province, 2005

Succeed in the Long March of our generation —— slogan for Xiong’an New Area, 2017.

Please write an article based on the given materials.

Paper for Beijing:


New Era, new youth


Today, many students who were born in the year 2000 have taken part in the gaokao. After 18 years, China has seen great development, while you have grown up. Please write an essay with the topic of “new youth in a new era, growing up with China’s development.” 

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)
(Web editor: Kou Jie, Bianji)

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