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Millions put to the test across China

(Shanghai Daily)

08:13, June 08, 2013

Heavy rain greeted the first day of China's annual national college entrance examination, the largest of its kind in the world, accompanied by support from the police, loving families and various other types of assistance.

China mobilized relevant state departments to guarantee examinees a smooth experience of sitting the gaokao, currently the only state-sanctioned "bridge" to the nation's institutions of higher learning.

In Beijing, all 7,000 of the capital's traffic officers were deployed to keep traffic flowing and ensure students got to the exam on time as torrential rain, thunder and lightning hit most parts of the city, a spokesman for the city's traffic authority said.

Police escorted at least two students who faced being late for the test to their exam venues. Many other candidates chose to leave home very early to avoid the rush hour.

Some measures to ensure students reach the annual test on time can be extreme.

Pictures posted online showed an amphibious fire engine ploughing through water to deliver a boy dressed in school uniform to the exam in a remote part of Inner Mongolia.

The southern city of Guangzhou introduced dedicated lanes for vehicles taking students to the gaokao.

Shenyang, capital of northeast China's Liaoning Province, provided three free taxis for each examination venue to assist those in urgent need.

Parents across the country visited temples to make offerings for their children's success, while others were shown waiting outside exam rooms with food and drink specially prepared for their children.

Outside the exam room of the No. 1 Middle School in Changsha, capital of Hunan Province, a girl wearing a high-school uniform revealed herself to be a college student already.

"I came because I was eager to know how my mum felt while waiting outside the room last year," said the girl, too shy to reveal her name.

Holding umbrellas or hiding under shelters on the sidelines, parents yesterday waited anxiously outside 310,000 exam rooms at 7,300 venues across the country.

Ouyang Hongyan in north China's Shanxi Province, working as a volunteer for the past decade, was once again encouraging students and comforting nervous parents.

The 70-year-old woman, whose sons now work in the United States and Taiyuan City in Shanxi, believes it was the college entrance exam that changed their lives.

"I would like to tell others of my sons' stories to make more parents encourage their children to stick to their dream while not compromising the harsh reality," she said.

On microblogging sites, gaokao wishes topped the list of topics by attracting more than a million posts.

Yu Minhong, co-founder of private education company New Oriental, wrote: "Going to college through the examination may change your life and help you realize your dream, but everyone has their own track in life as well as path toward success. Neither school nor score makes the key to success, but courage, ambition and spirit."

About 9.12 million students are sitting the exam to win a college or university place.

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