Grueling Gaokao Tests China's College Seekers

Dreaded university entrance exam covers 12 years of study
By Kate Rockwood,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 8, 2008 7:06 AM CDT
Parents eagerly wait for their children to come out after completing their college entrance exam, at a school in Beijing, China Friday June 8, 2007.   (AP Photo/Elizabeth Dalziel)
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(Newser) – At least 10 million high school students in China are taking the grueling gaokao, or "high test," to win a coveted spot at college. It’s a two-day ordeal that covers everything students have learned for a dozen years. It also shuts down neighborhoods, redirects traffic, and determines which kids grab the 5.7 million university openings available in 2009.

The test “allows someone very poor the opportunity to rise out of poverty,” one student told Slate. It also rewards students who are good at taking tests. Many slam the system for ignoring creative thought, but most accept the gaokao challenge. "It's not perfect, but it's the fairest system," one student said.