Education has always been considered the most important path to success in Chinese culture. Parents recognize achievements in core subjects, which include maths, Chinese and English at secondary school level, are vital for success in the new society. They strongly encourage their children and have high expectations of them to fulfil their own dreams.
As more Chinese students set their sights on the English‐speaking world, Americans are getting a first‐hand look at their test‐taking prowess. Students in my IB program are weaker than average by HSANNU standards (the IB is still largely unknown in China), but they do just fine on American standardized tests. The SAT Math is so easy for them that they can hardly contain a smile. One student told me that the Chinese SAT tutors generally ignore it because, as one of them told a group of students, “any Chinese should be able to get an 800 on the math.” In making my rounds as college counselor, I once overheard two math teachers talking wistfully about the weakness of a particular student, only to find out later that she scored 730 on the SAT math. Among the 29 students in our graduating class, the lowest math score was 690. The Critical Reading and Writing sections are more challenging for obvious reasons, but with a few months of intense preparation, students can usually crack 600 and occasionally 700.