The exam should test all-around qualities such as morality, and reduce testing of knowledge by rote, aiming to facilitate students' key abilities and core qualities in teaching and examination, the Ministry of Education said in April.
Starting this year, there will be only five batches of universities for students to apply from the Ningxia Hui autonomous region, after combining second and third batches of universities.
Beijing has also combined its first and second batches of universities for students to apply, but allows students to apply to up to 16 universities and 6 majors at each.
Sichuan province has increased the school number from 6 to 9 for students to apply in each batch.
4. Favorable policies for rural students
Students from China's rural and poor areas will continue to enjoy favorable policies when they apply for major universities in 2019.
The poverty-stricken counties entitled to special enrollment plans will continue to enjoy such policies in 2019 even if they have already shaken off poverty.
China's medical colleges will enroll 6,700 rural students this year who will work for rural health centers in central and western China upon graduation.
With financing by the central government, students will enjoy five-year free education in majors including clinical medicine, traditional Chinese medicine, traditional Mongolian medicine, traditional Tibetan medicine and traditional Dai ethnic medicine.
Eight provincial-level regions joined in gaokao reform this year. The change will cover students who entered high schools in fall 2018 or later in Hebei, Liaoning, Jiangsu, Fujian, Hubei, Hunan, Guangdong and Chongqing.
The reform allows the students to have more choices — up to 12 combinations of subjects instead of the current two choices between arts and science. Their performances during high school academic tests will also serve as measurable indicators.