The Study Dinosaur – Xue Ba


During this trip back to my second home – Hong Kong, I met several people who studied or taught there. They shared with me experience studying with/teaching to mainland Chinese in universities in Hong Kong. One story shared was quite legendary, a Chinese student went straight to the instructor at the course beginning, asking – how many As he/she gave out in the class. I am pretty sure that move was not winning him/her any popularity among the peers.

dinosaurA popular term emerged recently among Chinese students – Xue Ba (学霸). Xue means 学(study, learn), Ba means 霸王 (overlord, king, super master, giant). I was trying to find a perfect English translation for this newly created term. I found some existing translations – Straight A(sian) students, Straight A(mazing) students, Nerd, Study bug, Scholar tyrant, Study machine, Mugger. My version Study Dinosaur describes Xue Ba as a group of students who are superstars in academic results and who invested tremendous energy and resources to make that happen.

In order to be Xue Ba, one needs to understand the rules of the game. That is why a Xue Ba would ask how many As an instructor gives out each term. That is a very natural and logical move – to understand the rules so one can make plans to win. This seems to be an excellent idea except a few flaws

Rules differ from environment to environment. Dinosaur needs to be adaptive in order to survive and thrive. A Chinese education system is not the same as that in other places.

Rules are made by others. Think of [The Hunger Games], the rule is to select 26 teenagers between the ages of 12 and 18 to participate in the Hunger Games, an event in which the participants (or “tributes”) must fight to the death until only one individual remains.

Be aware, Dinosaur.


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