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“China’s Enem”: More than 13 million people will take “the hardest exam in the world”

A record number of high school students across China have begun taking the world’s biggest academic test, in a country grappling with a slowing economy and dwindling opportunities for young graduates.

The National College Entrance Examination, known as “gaokao,” lasts two days.

It has also been heralded by Chinese state media as the “toughest” college entrance exam in the world due to its competitiveness and intensity.

In it, students show everything they have learned in 12 years through subject tests that last less than two hours each.

More than 13.4 million students registered for the exam this year, surpassing last year’s record of 12.9 million people, making the 2024 exam the largest “gaokao” ever held in China.

Increasing pressure for a good result

Chinese students spend years studying for the exam, as they need a high score to get into the country’s best universities.

The exam includes subjects such as Chinese Literature, Mathematics, English, Physics, Chemistry, Politics and History.

In addition to being tiring, the overwhelming majority of students only have one chance at the test.

Candidates enter the National College Entrance Examination venue at Nanjing Tianjiabing Senior High School in Nanjing, China, on June 7, 2024

And the specter of China’s slow economic growth and rising youth unemployment has increased the pressure to perform well.

This Friday (7), the first day of the exam, many parents waited anxiously outside the school gates after dropping off their children for the test.

Many parents and teachers were dressed in red, the color of victory in China, and some held sunflowers — considered an auspicious flower for academic success.

Booking taxis for the test

Authorities implemented a series of measures to maintain order and stability at exam venues.

In Beijing, traffic police were on the streets at 6 a.m. to help smooth and reduce traffic around a school near the Summer Palace, a famous tourist spot, state news agency Xinhua reported.

In Shanghai, taxi ranks began accepting reservations for students taking the exam a week ago, according to Xinhua.

A student greets teachers before entering the 2024 National College Entrance Examination (also known as Gaokao) venue on June 7, 2024 in Huaibei, Anhui province, China

International support

Chinese social media was flooded with messages of good luck and encouragement, with “gaokao” being the top search topic on the X-like platform Weibo.

Many Chinese celebrities — and even some international stars — posted on social media wishing the candidates good luck.

British football legend David Beckham posted a message of support on Weibo, where he has 10 million fans.

“I just want to say ‘good luck’ to all the students who will be taking their exams soon. You guys worked really hard. Jin Bang Ti Ming!” Beckham said in a video, adopting a Chinese phrase that means achieving honors and success in important exams.

Source: CNN Brasil

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