Skip to main content


The Negative Influences of Exam-Oriented Education on Chinese High School Students: Backwash from Classroom to Child

Article metrics

  • 54k Accesses

  • 28 Citations

The Erratum to this article has been published in Language Testing in Asia 2014 4:2


This essay describes the various problems China faces on account of its exam-centric education system and pedagogy. Along with interviews and focus groups, this study draws on survey responses from 43 Chinese high school students enrolled in the Yunnan Province's No. 10 school. Moreover, this essay explores the policy arguments and key assumptions underlying this pedagogical approach as well as the negative influences exam-oriented education systems have on Chinese students, who view education as nothing more than merely passing examinations. This particular approach, at its worst, can stifle a student's imagination, creativity, and sense of self, qualities crucial for a child's ultimate success in and out of the classroom. The study suggests moderate pressure to excel in school, when paired with deemphasizing high-stakes testing, better motivates students and improves student success and psychological health, both in terms of academic success and also a productive adulthood.

Author information

Correspondence to Robert Kirkpatrick.

Additional information

An erratum to this article is available at

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article


  • backwash
  • China exam system
  • exam-oriented education