This week (June 7 and 8), took 9.7 million Chinese students (link in Chinese) began what’s known as “life’s most important test” in China—the gaokao, or the national university entrance exams.
In the lead-up to exam time, high schools across China often engage in various activities to inspire test-takers. Teachers lecture students as if they were soldiers in the army, preparing for battle. Motivational slogans might be placed across campus walls or worn on uniforms. Sometimes students get superstitious—wearing red clothes (link in Chinese), burning $240 joss sticks, or praying before a statue of Confucius.
The test is so high-stakes that some students go great lengths to cheat on it. To crack down on exam fraud, schools have made use of metal detectors, drones, and facial-recognition software. Authorities this year in Inner Monglolia are performing finger vein scans on test-takers—because fingerprints can be too easily faked.
This year’s exam has been highly politicized. Of the nine essay questions asked nationally (there’s some regional variations to the test), five were centered around slogans put forth by president Xi Jinping.
Below are some photos of students across China as they prepare for the 2018 test.