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A few weeks ago, to commemorate the release of the scores for China’s grueling annual National Higher Education Entrance Examination, better known as the gaokao, we announced a contest, “Hao Nao Gaokao,” in conjunction with Jeff Yang, “Tao Jones” columnist for the Wall Street Journal. Well, our Supreme Evaluation Committee on Contest Answer Goodness has assessed the dozens of submissions that came in from near and far, and identified three particularly exceptional entries to award our grand prize—copies of Dave Liang’s CD of remixed electronica versions of Chinese children’s songs, “Little Dragon Tales.”

If you remember, the contest asked for appropriately snarky, creative, individualist American responses to one or more of five real 2012 questions:

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.”

Here are the winners, plus a special honorable mention:

First Place: Mic Nguyen, “Supplemental Instructions”

Second Place: Alice Yen, “The Evolution of [Love] Letters”

Third Place: Laura Chu, “Clean or Cloudy, It’s All Relative”

Honorable Mention: Tze-Ming Mok, “Pants, Too, Should Be Optional”

[Editor’s Note: Mok’s otherwise brilliant entry was marked down for excessive scatological references, which one might also argue were the source of much of its brilliance. As Mao once said, “Your mileage may vary.”]

Thanks to all of you who submitted entries! You are shining examples of the generation that will advance the motherland into its destined tomorrow!

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