As China’s two-day National College Entrance Exam — known as gaokao — begins today, a swirl of activity is planned to ensure the best possible conditions for students to take the test that will determine their professional tracks within Chinese society.
All over China, traffic will be re-routed away from test centers and construction sites will silence their commotion. In Guangxi, the Olympic Torch Relay has abbreviated its relay route and toned down the pomp and circumstance of the event.
Chinese society places careful consideration on these two days. Parents and grandparents scurry to temples to pray for students’ good fortune. The Ministry of Education (MOE) even issued a national health warning on impaired student eyesight.
But there is one activity that will not be tolerated: cheating.
Stories of cheating surface every year: students pay for leaked exams, pay others to take the exams, or sneak cell phones and electronic dictionaries into test centers.
According to the MOE, students caught cheating may be disqualified from next year’s registration. Those students taking the exam for others may be expelled.
More than 11 million students are registered with the MOE to take the exam. However, the exam will qualify only about 6 million students for university. Test results are available online on June 28.
WIDE ANGLE’s film follows four Chinese students through their final, high-pressure year, which culminates with the gaokao. “China Prep” premieres on August 12. Check your local listings for airtimes, and check back here for updates.