Today, 9.12 million students from across China will be taking the national college entrance exams – otherwise known as the gaokao. While exam participation levels are dropping, pressure only ever seems to be mounting, and this year is no exception. From contraceptive pills to the strictest examinations in gaokao history, here’s a round-up of this year’s gaokao news:
- The number of participants has fallen from 10.5 million in 2008 to a mere 9.12 in 2013, marking the fifth consecutive year of decreased participation. This may be primarily explained by the declining birth rate as well as the trend of studying abroad, a local education authority official explains.
- Security measures and surveillance has reached new peaks – both for examination students and those involved in the logistics process. Bras with metal clasps have been banned from examination halls, and for the first time in history, Guangzhou has started to roll out video surveillance for delivery of exam papers, monitoring the entire process right from the factory to the exam hall.
- Pressure is the galvanising force for creativity; students, teachers and even news sites have put forward very inventive ways of alleviating gaokao-related stress, including taking the contraceptive pill to reduce period pain, and asking locals to use public transport so as to ease congestion for gaokao students rushing to get to their exams. The official gaokao Weibo account’s proposed ‘low carbon initiative’ is intended to put an end to the few students who end up missing their gaokao exams due to traffic congestion.
Indeed, the intense pressure of the gaokao process is something that garners sympathy from all people all across the nation, and there are countless stories of support online under the Weibo hashtag #高考祝福 (gaokao well-wishes). Celebrities and local authorities were some of those who joined in the conversation to support students before their big day:
@何炅He Jiong, national TV presenter:
“The revision period is finally over, so make sure you take care of yourself over these next two days and perform to the best of your abilities on the 7th and 8th. Still the same advice, two days cannot determine your entire life. Besides, you will do well! Believe in yourself.”
@俞敏洪 Yumin Hong, CEO of New Oriental Education Group:
“Taking the gaokao and going to university can realise your dreams and change your life. However, every student has his or her own path in life, and the roads to success will vary greatly. Gaokao is not the be-all-and-end-all; no matter your results, or your university, they are not the deciding factor for your own personal success. What determines whether you are successful is your mind, spirit and courage; life is not a sprint, it is a boundless marathon. Good luck, children!”
Shanghai Municipal Education Commission’s exam centre also posted:
“It’s nearly 10pm now, students, you should get to bed, leave all your worries aside and have some time to relax and get some rest so that you can perform well tomorrow. We await your good news. Don’t forget to bring your examination ID. Good night!”
Students and graduates also chimed in, @袁XIAOJIE_
“From tomorrow, I will be reunited with my one and only boyfriend. 365 days a year, you’re the only one I think of. It’s been a tough year, but I’ve made it through. Gaokao, I love you.”
“Tomorrow is the day of the gaokao, so nervous! What if I don’t perform well and flunk the exam, I’ll have let down and disappointed my parents, family and friends. I will have failed before my life has even begun, and my life from then on will be shrouded in a dark, depressing haze… Thinking of this gives me the shivers, and all kinds of horrible thoughts start overflowing in my head, and then I think to myself, ‘What the hell does this have to do with me? I graduated university and started working years ago’.”
[Image credit: blshe.com]