More than three quarters of Chinese still consider the national college entrance exam the "best" way to select the country's brightest students despite its inherent faults.
A survey of 38,087 people by the National Educational Examination Authority (NEEA) of the Ministry of Education and the China Youth Daily found 77.4 percent were still in favor of the exam sat by millions of youngsters each year.
It showed that 89.6 percent of respondents believe the exam offered life-changing opportunities, and 65 percent thought it was their only life-changing opportunity.
"Poor people have a deep affection for the exam," said NEEA director Dai Jiagan. The poll showed that among those whose live were totally changed by the exam, 69.1 percent were born into poor families.
"This result reflects the positive impact of the exam," Dai said.
Chinese universities stopped enrolling students during the Cultural Revolution from 1966 to 1976, and restored the exam in 1977, when 5.7 million candidates competed for 220,000 college places.
Since then, 36 million people have matriculated. However, the exam has been branded "unscientific" as it relies solely on written testing with no evaluation of overall capability. Critics say it has led to China's test-oriented education system and should be abolished.
The pressure brought by the exam is enormous, with 58.6 percent of respondents saying they had felt anxious, worried or sleepless beforehand, and 70.8 percent of parents worried.
The exam is seen as important because it is the only chance for most high school students to get access to higher education. This year, 10.1 million people competed for 5.67 million university places.
However, the poll also showed 82.3 percent believed the value of college qualifications had declined in the last ten years, mainly because graduates faced fierce competition in the job market or even unemployment.
The government expanded university enrollments in 1999, when only eight percent of people could go to college compared with 22 percent last year, but this increased employment pressures.
Ministry of Education figures show 1.08 million Chinese graduated in 1998 and 4.13 million in 2006. The number is expected to reach five million this year.
Dai said the exam should be continued but with cautious reforms, a view shared by 77.5 percent of the respondents.