In today’s competitive global environment, education has become more important than ever before. Parents all over the world, including in China, want their children to get the best education possible to prepare them for the future.

One aspect that is often discussed is the length of the school day – how many hours per day are students expected to be in school?

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: the length of a school day in China is usually around 8 hours for primary and middle schools. Actual hours vary across different regions.

Average School Hours in China

When it comes to the length of a school day, China is known for its rigorous education system. The average school hours in China vary depending on the level of education. Let’s take a closer look at the average school hours for primary school, middle school, and high school students.

Primary School

In China, primary school students typically have longer school days compared to their counterparts in other countries. On average, primary school students in China attend school for about seven hours a day. This includes both classroom instruction and extracurricular activities.

The school day usually starts around 8:00 am and ends around 3:00 pm.


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Middle School

Once students enter middle school, the school day becomes even longer. Middle school students in China usually have a school day that lasts for around nine hours. This includes time for academic classes, physical education, and other activities.

The school day typically starts around 7:30 am and ends around 4:30 pm.

High School

High school students in China have the longest school days of all. They typically spend around ten to twelve hours at school each day. In addition to regular academic classes, high school students often have after-school study sessions and extracurricular activities.

The school day for high school students usually starts around 7:00 am and can extend until 9:00 pm or later, depending on the school and the student’s schedule.

It’s important to note that these are average school hours, and there may be variations among different schools and regions in China. Additionally, the workload and expectations for students can be quite demanding, as education is highly valued in Chinese society.

Regional Differences in School Hours

Coastal Regions

In China, the length of the school day can vary depending on the region. In coastal regions such as Shanghai and Guangdong, students typically have longer school hours compared to other areas. It is not uncommon for students in these regions to have a school day that starts at 7:30 am and ends at 5:00 pm.

This can be attributed to the high emphasis on education and the competitive nature of these regions.

Inland Regions

On the other hand, in inland regions like Sichuan and Henan, the school day tends to be shorter. Students in these areas often start school around 8:00 am and finish by 3:30 pm. This difference in school hours can be influenced by various factors, including cultural norms and educational resources in these regions.

Rural vs. Urban Areas

In addition to regional differences, there are also variations in school hours between rural and urban areas. In rural areas, where access to educational resources may be limited, school days are typically shorter.

Students in these areas may start school later in the morning and finish earlier in the afternoon. On the other hand, in urban areas with better infrastructure and resources, students may have longer school days to accommodate extracurricular activities and additional educational opportunities.

It is important to note that while these regional differences exist, the Chinese government has been making efforts to standardize school hours across the country. The Ministry of Education has implemented policies to ensure that students receive a consistent and quality education regardless of their geographical location.

After-School Supplementary Classes

In China, after-school supplementary classes are a common part of a student’s daily routine. These classes are designed to provide additional academic support and enrichment to students outside of regular school hours.

They are often seen as an important component in the Chinese education system, as they aim to enhance a student’s academic performance and increase their chances of success in examinations.


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Why are after-school supplementary classes popular in China?

After-school supplementary classes are popular in China for several reasons. Firstly, the highly competitive nature of the Chinese education system means that many students and parents believe that extra classes are necessary to gain an edge over their peers.

These classes offer additional instruction and practice in subjects such as math, science, and English, which are considered to be crucial for academic success.

Secondly, after-school classes also provide students with a structured environment and a chance to reinforce what they have learned during regular school hours. With smaller class sizes and more individual attention, students can ask questions, clarify doubts, and receive personalized feedback from their teachers.

Lastly, after-school classes also play a role in preparing students for various national exams, such as the Gaokao, which is the college entrance examination in China. Many students feel that attending these classes improves their chances of obtaining high scores and gaining admission to prestigious universities.


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What is the duration of after-school supplementary classes?

The duration of after-school supplementary classes in China can vary depending on the grade level and the specific needs of the students. On average, these classes can range from 1 to 3 hours per day, with some students attending multiple classes in different subjects.

It is not uncommon for students to have a packed schedule, attending regular school from early morning to mid-afternoon, and then transitioning to after-school classes in the evening. This can result in long and tiring days for students, but many believe that the benefits outweigh the challenges.

How effective are after-school supplementary classes?

The effectiveness of after-school supplementary classes is a topic of debate among educators and experts. Some argue that these classes place too much academic pressure on students and can lead to burnout.

Others believe that they provide valuable support and reinforcement, helping students to excel academically.

Chinese students who attend after-school classes may perform significantly better in math and science compared to those who do not. However, it is important to have a balanced approach to education i.e. to have time for extracurricular activities and rest.

Reasons for Long School Days in China

Importance of Education in Chinese Culture

Education holds a significant place in Chinese culture, and it is highly valued by both parents and society. The emphasis on education can be traced back to ancient times when Confucianism played a crucial role in shaping Chinese society.

Confucian teachings emphasized the importance of education in achieving personal and societal success. This cultural belief has continued to influence the Chinese mindset, making education a top priority for families.

In addition, parents in China often view education as the key to a better future for their children. With a population of over 1.4 billion people, competition for jobs and opportunities is fierce. Therefore, parents are willing to invest heavily in their children’s education, including longer school days, to ensure they have a competitive edge in the future.

Competitive Environment

China’s education system is known for its rigorous standards and high levels of competition. The country places great importance on academic achievement, and students are constantly striving to excel in their studies.

This competitive environment has led to longer school days as students are expected to cover a wide range of subjects and prepare for various standardized exams.

Furthermore, China’s education system places a heavy emphasis on rote memorization and test scores. Students are often required to memorize large amounts of information and spend extensive hours studying to achieve desired results.

As a result, the school day is extended to provide students with sufficient time to cover the curriculum and adequately prepare for exams.

It is worth noting that while longer school days may seem demanding, they have also contributed to China’s academic achievements. Chinese students consistently rank among the top performers in international assessments such as the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA).

However, it is essential to strike a balance between academic rigor and the overall well-being of students to ensure a holistic education.

Impact on Students

Academic Pressure

The long school day in China has a significant impact on students, especially in terms of academic pressure. With classes starting early in the morning and ending late in the afternoon, students are expected to absorb a vast amount of information within a limited timeframe.

This puts immense pressure on them to perform well in exams and meet the high expectations set by their teachers and parents.

China’s education system is known for its emphasis on rote learning and memorization. This approach, combined with the long school hours, can lead to a highly competitive and stressful environment for students.

Lack of Free Time

Another consequence of the long school day in China is the lack of free time for students. After spending hours in school, they often have little time for extracurricular activities, hobbies, or simply relaxing.

This can hinder their personal development and prevent them from exploring their interests outside of academics.

A survey conducted by the China Daily found that many Chinese students spend their evenings attending cram schools or completing homework assignments. This leaves them with limited time for socializing, pursuing creative endeavors, or engaging in physical activities, which are essential for a well-rounded education.

Stress and Fatigue

The long school day in China can also contribute to stress and fatigue among students. Constant studying, coupled with the pressure to excel academically, can take a toll on their mental and physical well-being.

Lack of sleep and relaxation time can lead to increased stress levels, decreased concentration, and even burnout.

An article from Sleep Foundation highlighted the negative effects of sleep deprivation on students’ cognitive abilities and overall health. It emphasized the importance of a balanced schedule and sufficient rest for optimal academic performance.

While the long school day in China may have its drawbacks, it is important to note that the country also boasts high educational achievements and a strong emphasis on academic excellence. However, finding a balance between academic rigor and the well-being of students is crucial for their overall development and success.


In conclusion, a typical school day in China lasts around 8 hours on average, with some variation between different regions and school levels. Academic pressure to succeed leads many schools to extend the school day with after-school classes.

The long hours have sparked discussion about the impact on students’ wellbeing. While education is valued, there are growing calls for reforms to reduce school hours and student workloads.

Through this detailed exploration, we have answered how long school days last across China. This overview covers the key facts and discussions around this topic.

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