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Thursday September 28, 2023

Millions of Chinese students sit gruelling college entrance exams

By AFP
June 08, 2023

BEIJING: Millions of Chinese students sat for notoriously tough college entrance exams on Wednesday, the first since the country lifted zero-Covid rules that forced classes online for months on end. China´s education ministry says nearly 13 million students, a record, are registered this year to take the “gaokao” exams -- billed by state media as the “world´s toughest”. In Beijing, anxious parents gathered around exam halls as their children knuckled down, many wearing red for good luck.

Zhang Jing, a mother in her forties, compared herself to Bai Suzhen, a character in Chinese folklore who is locked in a tower until her son passes an important test. “My son is quite relaxed, I think I am more nervous than him,” Zhang, wearing a red qipao, a traditional Chinese dress, told AFP. “I have been accompanying my son and instructing his study from the first grade of elementary school to the first year of high school,” she said.

“As long as he´s at home studying, I´m there by his side.” In Shanghai, mother-of-two Chen Fang told AFP she had taken the day off work. “I thought, it´s a big day for my child, so I should be part of it as a parent.” Testing high school students on their Chinese, English, mathematics and other science or humanities subjects of their choice, the exams are critical to landing coveted spots at China´s top universities. Exams can last up to four days, and take between an hour and 150 minutes per subject. In the Chinese capital, parents and volunteers held up signs saying “Go for it, youngsters!” as students posed for photos with banners assuring them that “victory is secured”.