Students unhappy with their gaokao results can wait a year to retake the test, as almost 1.5 million did last year, or take a gap year to prepare for the next cycle of American admissions. The University of New Hampshire program would take a bit of agony out of the wait, with an Oct. 1 deadline to apply for admission in January 2019.
“From the student’s perspective, it opens a door,” Mr. Chen said in a phone interview.
Like other out-of-state students, students admitted to the University of New Hampshire through the gaokao program would have to pay over $45,000 a year in tuition and housing costs.
The University of New Hampshire joins dozens of European, Australian and Canadian universities, as well as a handful of private American institutions, that have been screening candidates using cutoff gaokao scores. The university reviews how students perform on the gaokao, and on an assessment of their English language skills, before determining whether they can move forward with the application process.
Ms. Mantz, the spokeswoman, said that although admissions criteria were still being finalized, students considered for the University of New Hampshire would most likely have to take the SAT or the ACT, a similar test, after their scores on the gaokao were vetted.
But admitted students would still set foot on campus earlier than they would have otherwise.
“This streamlined process quickly gives feedback to students who need additional English prep, so that they can start on that path right away,” Ms. Mantz wrote in an email.
A similar program at the University of San Francisco allows Chinese students to bypass U.S. standardized testing altogether. A Jesuit institution with about 6,800 undergraduate students, the university has an early admissions program that allows June test takers to enroll as early as the fall semester, based solely on their gaokao score, grades and a one-on-one interview in English. Last spring, more than half of the school’s 1,600 international students were from China.
On the program website, Paul J. Fitzgerald, the school’s president, said that although he was aware of criticism of the gaokao, it had the “advantage” of evaluating “whether students are able to master a given body of knowledge, as well as their ability to work hard and consistently.”
Mr. Fitzgerald noted that the SAT, which serves as a basis for admission at most four-year colleges and universities in the United States, is also an imperfect predictor of college success.