What a High-Pressure College Entrance Exam Reveals About China

School security guards check students’ national ID cards and testing ID cards to allow admittance to the gaokao, China’s college entrance exam, in Gejiu, China, June 7, 2019 (Photo by Matthew Chitwood)
School security guards check students’ national ID cards and testing ID cards to allow admittance to the gaokao, China’s college entrance exam, in Gejiu, China, June 7, 2019 (Photo by Matthew Chitwood)

GEJIU, China—Luo Xing stood on the sidewalk outside Gejiu Third High School reviewing her Chinese language and literature test prep guide. She and hundreds of classmates were cramming last-minute for China’s high-stakes college entrance exam, known as the gaokao, as if 12 years of preparation were not enough. The bell finally rang and the school gates opened, allowing Luo Xing and the mass of students to push past throngs of anxious parents, SWAT police and a brigade of motorcycle cops. They disappeared into the school compound to face one of the hardest tests in the world. More than 10 million […]

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