“Gaokao” (pronounced “gow cow”) is the term used since the days of Imperial China when the only way to advance in society was to undertake the rigorous examinations to be promoted into the civil service system.
Today, the word is still very much in use to describe the fervor surrounding many Chinese, Asian, and even non-Asian parents and students as they prepare for exam taking in China and in the other countries, including the United States. Whether it be AP, SAT, GRE, Med School, Law School, etc., where success in the Gaokao is seen as the key to success in life.
Growing up in both Chinese and American cultures, Yanna Gong reveals the incredible details of her own life experiences to show how the often relentless drive toward academic excellence is de rigeur for many Asian and Asian American kids, as well as entire families, whose collective devotion (and neurosis) is fast becoming and global phenomenon. What, however, is the cost, both physically and psychologically? For anyone who has read about the Tiger Mother or Wolf Dad, Gaokao, is a must-read book to bring this fascinating story full circle.