The gaokao or National Higher Education Entrance Examination is China’s college entrance exam and is the hardest test teenagers anywhere in the world must face. The test scores from this exam determine the futures of these budding youngsters and thousands of teens show up to write it each year.
A mother waits outside in Hefei, Anhui province. In some parts of the country, authorities banned outdoor square dancing (a popular activity for elderly Chinese people) within 500 feet of testing buildings because of the loud music.
Students taking the bus to their exam in Liu’an, Anhui province. Thousands of family and friends crowded the streets in support as they left for the test.
Zheng Dong (left) studies in a hotel room in Shanghai near the site of his exam. In Beijing, over 1,700 taxi drivers offered to give free rides to students in town for the test.
Invigilators monitor examinees in Suining, Sichuan in case of any sudden cheating. Leading up to gaokao, some high schools place security cameras in classrooms to monitor students in case of laziness.
A student takes a quick study break. Some schools have been criticized for producing “robots” who study 15 hours per day for gaokao.
Students self-studying at night in Hefel, Anhui province. 9.8 million students took gaokao this year, in comparison with 1.8 million students who take the SAT.
Parents in Huaibei, Anhui wait for their children to finish the exam.
Leading up to the exam, students and teachers take part in pressure-release activities, like this trust-fall.
Students walk by Confucius after a rainy morning in Wuhan. Many temples were flooded in the weeks leading up to the test with parents praying to Confucius, China’s great educator.
A security check in Shenyang, Lioning province. Authorities vowed to crack down on cheating during the exams this year.
A hidden camera inside a pen (second from the left) and a receiver disguised as an eraser confiscated by police.
Glasses containing a hidden camera and a coin with a tiny receiver.
A more complex cheating contraption in Chengdu, Sichuan provence.
Confiscated cell phones and receivers. The Ministry of Education said students caught cheating would be stripped of enrollment qualifications for 1-3 years.
A morale-boosting exercise in Hengshui, Hebei province. Students waved flags and shouted “Come on Hengshui No. 2 high school, you are the best!”
Parents in Shanghai waited for the exams to finish.
Applicants walking outside after finishing their first day of testing.
A teacher checking examinees names in Hefel. Because of the importance of one test, “gaokao-sweatshops” — high schools that prepare students exclusively for the test — have become increasingly common.
These students took oxygen while studying chemistry at a hospital in Suining.