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2012/06/28 / Horace

Zhuang Yuan(状元) taking over China in summer

As students get their results of the College Entrance Examination, also known as “Gao Kao”, a small group of students have now been under intense media spotlight.

Zhuangyuans (状元), students who score highest in Gao Kao in a  certain area, have become hot topic nationally.

There is not only one Zhuang Yuan in China, given that test papers in different areas vary. In a province, we have one provincial Zhuangyuan in humanities and science respectively. In cities and counties, we also have city and county Zhuangyuans in the same way.

These students who are lucky enough to become Zhuangyuans will be invited to appear on TV and newspaper, sometimes rewarded in various ways by their school and even be asked to appear on advertisements.

One of my friends didn’t become Zhuangyuan, but scored only next to the city Zhuangyuan and was admitted by Tsinghua University. He told me that he was also invited to appear in advertisements. “A teaching director telephoned me and told me that someone wanted me to make advertisements for a product,” he told me, “of course, I had to do the favor.”

Although he was not Zhuangyuan himself, along with the city Zhuangyuan, his photo appeared in thousands of outlets promoting a kind of product which claimed to help improve students’ academic performance. One of the posters was well-kept by a girl I knew. She sticked the advertisement on the wall and told her mother that it gave her enormous aspiration and encouragement.

That admirer of my friend ran away from home during odyssey to Zhuangyuan. Her dream destination was Hongkong Chinese University, somewhere only Zhuangyuan level students could go. “Perhaps she ran away because she couldn’t realize her dream,” mothers whose kids either were on the odyssey or had been but failed on the bid concluded.

Lin Haoran, a student in Sichuan, was mistaken  to be the Zhuangyuan of the province. Although the message was proven wrong in just a few hours, still he was bombarded by nearly 10 media organizations, with some even visiting his school at midnight. He told the state TV that he and his family “were greatly hurt by this incident.”

So, what if he were this year’s Zhuangyuan in Sichuan? How severe the media bombardment would be?

Guangdong, in order to prevent too many showcases of Zhuangyuan, has decided to make the top 10 students of the province confidential. Before this, several provinces have forbidden schools of staging showcases of Zhuangyuans and those who violated this regulation would be punished. Peking University and Tsinghua University, have announced they would never tell anyone what Zhuangyuan actually scored.

Nevertheless, “Zhuangyuan” is still hot.

You could see “Zhuangyuans’ Diet” “Zhuangyuans’ Life” “Zhuangyuans’ Exercise Books” on the Internet. On, one of China’s biggest web portals, you can check the information of almost every Zhuangyuan in every province since the year 2004.



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