Covid-19 doubles the pressure of Chinese university entrance exams

Covid-19 doubles the pressure of Chinese university entrance exams 2

Covid-19 doubles the pressure of Chinese university entrance exams

Nearly 90% of students taking the gaokao, China’s famous college entrance exam, will be accepted into suitable schools, corresponding to the results they achieve, but the number of students can vary.

Every year, two famous schools, Peking University and Tsinghua University, each only accept about 3,000 new students.

An invigilator hands out questions to a candidate taking the Cao Cao mock exam in Handan city, Hebei province, China, on July 1.

Chinese people often compare taking the gaokao exam to `thousands of people crossing a narrow bridge`.

This year, China’s gaokao exam will take place on July 7 and 8, and in some places it will last until July 9.

Wuhan University has always been the dream school of Zhang Yunhan, 18 years old, a female student born and raised in Wuhan city, capital of Hubei province.

`I saw how Wuhan overcame the worst public health crisis and I wanted to contribute something to the city by nurturing future talent,` Zhang said.

Time is more precious than gold for every senior student in China who wants to take the gaokao exam.

`I don’t have time to panic about the epidemic because everything for me has not changed. Gaokao is still a top priority,` Zhang shared.

During the lockdown, Zhang woke up at 6 a.m., studied online all day, then spent the evening taking practice tests or reviewing what he had learned.

Zhang’s only relaxing time is from 10pm to 11pm, which she spends exercising, reading books unrelated to exams, and playing with her mobile phone.

`In a way, preparing for the exam made me forget about the epidemic, and focusing on studying helped me feel less scared,` Zhang said.

However, Zhang still understands the severity of the epidemic situation because her mother signed up to become a community volunteer to help deliver medicine to people with chronic diseases who are locked down and cannot leave the house.

`She came home very late and always reminded me to take good care of myself every morning before leaving the house,` Zhang recalls.

Zhang returned to school on May 6 when the epidemic in Wuhan was under control.

`I’m very happy to see my friends and teachers again. Even though each class is now divided into two small classes and wearing a mask in class makes me feel uncomfortable, I still cherish every remaining day at school.`

She still maintains a busy study schedule as the exam gets closer and closer.

`The gaokao is a big obstacle that we all face. As long as I study hard before the exam, it will become less scary and I will get a good score,` Zhang said.

Sun Feixue was in Beijing when Covid-19 hit her hometown of Wuhan at the end of December last year.

Sun wants to major in screenwriting.

On January 23, Wuhan was placed on lockdown to prevent the spread of nCoV, meaning Sun and she could not return.

`Even though I’m scared, I have to quickly adapt to the situation because the exam is approaching. I don’t have time for anxiety or any other negative emotions,` Sun shared.

The university later announced that it would cancel interviews because of the epidemic, but because Sun could not return to Wuhan, she was stuck in Beijing.

Sun’s mother is a nurse at a hospital in Wuhan and she is responsible for caring for patients infected with nCoV.

`My mother and I talk on the phone every night. I remind her to always stay safe and take all precautions. She reminds me to take care of myself and study hard for the exam.`

Covid-19 doubles the pressure of Chinese university entrance exams

Students in Handan, eastern China, at a Cao Cao exam review class in 2018. Photo: Reuters.

Sun and she returned to Wuhan in mid-April after the blockade was lifted on April 8.

After returning home, Sun’s life focused solely on gaokao.

Sun returns to school on May 6.

`Both the epidemic and gaokao are big challenges for students like me. But challenges are not always a bad thing because it makes you stronger,` Sun said.

When Zhang Yuheng started studying online in February, his experience was so bad that he wanted to give up studying for the exam.

Zhang school’s online learning application often crashes.

Zhang knew that if he didn’t change, his chances of getting into good universities would be very small because Henan province, Zhang’s hometown, had the largest number of people taking the gaokao because of its large population.

In a mock exam in February, Zhang only scored 300 out of 750 points.

After talking with her parents, Zhang started signing up for private tutoring at an online education service company.

Online classes start at 8am and end at 9pm every day.

When school reopened in early April, Zhang was even more diligent, waking up at 5:30 a.m. and studying until 11 p.m.

`Some of my classmates even stayed up until one or two in the morning to study. But even though I couldn’t stay up that late, I tried my best,` Zhang said.

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