Plans hinting at a complete overhaul of China's exam and enrollment system for high schools and colleges by 2020 were outlined in a circular released by the State Council on Thursday.
The reforms will be aimed at easing pressure, promoting fairness and increasing supervision, Vice Education Minister Du Yubo said during a news conference at the State Council Information Office.
One measure will see portions of the college entrance exam taken throughout high school years, rather than upon graduation, creating a more staggered approach.
Pilot programs will begin this year and the reform efforts will be expanded nationwide three years later, according to the circular.
They hope to connect all levels and types of education, said Du
The current system has made great contributions to the selection of talent and social fairness since the nation began reform and opening-up drive in late 1978.
However, it also drew complaints due to its overemphasis on scores, which has affected the all-around growth of the students. It also placed unhealthy emphasis on the role of the gaokao, the Chinese name given to the national college entrance exam, in the students' life.
Scandals in enrollment and extra gaokao scores were also factors leading to the overhaul, the document said.
To solve the problems, the reform will provide overall design that covers exam and enrollment of schools and institutions of higher education, the circular said.
Pilot programs of comprehensive gaokao reform will be carried out first in Shanghai and Zhejiang within this year, according to the circular.
And guidelines for standardizing the comprehensive evaluation of high school students will also be released this year to provide full record of the students' performance in the schools, the circular said