contest: can you pass the chinese college entrance exam?

The Margins, the Asian American Writers' Workshop's freshly launched online magazine, recently announced its very first contest: Hao Nao, Gaokao?

Inspired by China's notoriously difficult national university entrance exam -- the SATs ain't got nothing on the gaokao -- you're invited to exercise creativity and submit your own snappy answers to actual questions from the Chinese exam. And these questions are pretty hardcore:


1. I was helping my family with some farming work during a weekend and the field was very muddy due to the rains. I was carrying a lot of equipment on my shoulders and was afraid of falling over. My legs were shaking. My mom spotted it and told me to take off my shirt and shoes and try again. It was much easier. Eventually I brought the stuff to mom and she said, "It's not that you can't do it — you were too worried about getting your shirt dirty. By taking them off, you got rid of the unnecessary concerns."

2. Old Ji is a railway security man and he works on a mountain. His job is to examine the railways to prevent the fallen stones and trees from affecting the trains. He salutes every time the train passes, and the train will honk its horn in return. What do these scenes remind of you?

3. Two fish are swimming in a river. The older one asks, "How's the water?" The younger one says, "I don't know if it's clean or cloudy."

4. Various communications methods are being developed: email, SMS, etc. Do you think the letter is replaceable?

5. For several months, a sign was left on a ladder at a construction spot: "Notice: Ladder." One day, a guy came and changed it to "Notice: put the ladder down, not upright, when not in use."
Contest entries are due by midnight, July 3. Three winners will get a copy of Dave Liang's album of remixes of Chinese children's songs, Little Dragon Tales, and have their entries published on The Margins and in the Wall Street Journal Online. For further details about the contest, go here.

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