Reviewing GaoKao Scores as a Test Flexible Option

As the number of international students coming to the University of Rochester from around the world continues to grow, we make every effort to recognize the variety of credentials applicants provide to illustrate their outstanding achievements. Our test flexible policy is a significant step toward increasing the options students have to fulfill our requirements for standardized test scores.

Prospective students from mainland China may have noticed that we accept scores from the GaoKao (officially known as the Chinese National Higher Education Entrance Examination). While GaoKao scores are used in a strictly defined manner in China to determine college admissions, some students may wonder how these scores would be used in our holistic review process.

Although there are several institutional and tiered cut-off scores in China for the GaoKao, it is important to remember that at Rochester there is no score that will guarantee admission (or denial). For guidance, competitive scores will typically be significantly above the Tier 1 cut-off (一本分数线) during the year the exam was taken, similar to scores that would grant admission to highly competitive universities in China.

The difficulty in providing more specific guidelines for competitive scores arises from the variation in GaoKao scores and curricula across 31 different provinces, municipalities, and autonomous regions throughout China. For a student who elects to submit a GaoKao score, we would evaluate it based on location and discipline (natural sciences or social sciences). As always, a GaoKao score is only one part of an applicant’s profile, and is considered in the context of an entire application.

About the author

Jonathan Burdick

I am the Vice Provost and Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid. I share big admissions news and updates as well as information and statistics about our incoming classes.


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  • Dear Jon,

    I am a new PhD student in Higher Ed from China. I just watched your presentation for last year’s "How Universities Work" class.

    Is it that the "test-flexible" policy contributed to the doubling of applicants from China from 2013 to 2104 (reaching 4,000?)? How many of these applicants sent just Gaokao scores without SAT?

  • Dear application committee,
    I am a student in mainland China and plan on applying to the University of Rochester term Fall 2018 with the submission of Gaokao score. Currently a senior, the grades for Gaokao would come out in June 2018, may I know if I can still apply to the University of Rochester while the standardized testing score is not out yet? If not, is there anything else I can do when taking the SAT or ACT is too late for me at this point?
    Thank you very much!

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