The National College Entrance exams, or Gaokao, are a terrifying rite of passage for all Chinese students who harbour hopes of getting their foot into one of China’s elite universities, which have notoriously difficult selection criteria. But no fear for these students from the elite Hengshui High School in Hebei, who vowed to take down the Gaokao monster in a military-style parade held 100 days before the exams.
Final-year students stood in impeccably neat formations which formed the motivational slogan, “Fight on, Year Threes” ! Other contingents carried banners which brandished quotes like “We would rather suffer for 100 days than spend the rest of our lives in regret”, as well as “Wait for me, Peking and Tsinghua!”
The parade ahead of the “100-day rush” is an annual affair for Hengshui High, which has earned a reputation for being one of China’s “super high schools”. 80 percent of all students from Hebei who manage to secure entry to Peking and Tsinghua are from this high school, according to ednewschina.
One such description of their regimented lifestyles on ednewschina reads:
“I wake up at 5:30 every morning and am required to be out of the dorm by 5:45. I grab my books and go to gather at the track. After jogging ends, all classes are required to run up the stairs to their morning study sessions. At 6:38, the more than 80 students in my class all vacate the classroom in a matter of seconds (of course there are a seven or eight who don’t go to eat), just so they can get breakfast, since we have to be back in class before 7 to begin independent study. If we leave the classroom later than this, with being stuck in the crowded hall for 5 minutes, standing in line for 5 minutes, and 7 minutes to get there and back, we have at most 3 minutes for breakfast. I’ve been living at Hengshui for three months, and now I understand what human purgatory is.
Watch last year’s parade (with English subtitles of the proclamations) here: