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Xiaoying Zhou

With High Exam Around the Corner, Students Vent on China's Twitter

The blackboard urges students to put everything they have into the final exam, or "gao kao"

Gao kao, the Chinese national college entrance examination, is around the corner. In less than three days, when the traffic moves slower, cars honk less, and even market vendors solicit a bit more quietly, you will know that more than 10 million Chinese high school seniors are scribbling on their gao kao exam papers, fighting for a spot in China’s competitive higher education system.

If one were a conscientious gao kao candidate, one would probably not be browsing on the Internet at this point—at least Tiger Mom would agree. But tweets by gao kao candidates still abound on China’s twitter, Sina Weibo.

Like many gao kao candidates, @Politics1101欢比 is in a grim state: “Break from school doesn’t feel good–no mood for classes–feel like having something stuck in my throat, not sure whether I should swallow it or puke it out–getting irritable again recently and not wanting to listen to any bullsh*t–‘good luck’, ‘adjust’, ‘calm down’, or whatever–so easy to just say these things–dare not imagine the day when the results are out and they are a world away from my expectation–what bullsh*t when they say the gao kao is the most memorable experience in life.”

Younger ones who aren't taking the gao kao gathered to encourage their senior friends.

But since those who still use Weibo are perhaps the more light-hearted folks, we see many comments that are in fact quite amusing, even uplifting. @灵芝灵芝灵芝 was pretty chill about the whole thing, though feeling a bit doubtful: “After adjusting my circadian rhythm, 9 p.m. feels like 2 a.m. for me now. Am I really going to take the gao kao soon? I’ve been watching the TV for three days.”

@Jerry哆, a frequent microblogger, takes a more active approach: “To my dear friends—the gao kao is upon me, and I’m sure those who care would want to wish me luck. Should you have this thought, please leave me a note on my page. I will check after the gao kao, but not now, lest it affects my current mental state. Thank you for your cooperation!”

@笑着追求梦想的吴林欣 expressed happiness at not having to do anything, instead being treated like a princess at home because of the incoming gao kao: “My mom says I don’t have to do my laundry or any other chores. I just need to sleep and rest well. My dad says the gao kao is just like the floating cloud [浮云, Chinese online slang for something that’s trivial and of no significance]. I only need to face it like I’m facing something ordinary. My brother says, calm down and have confidence… I will be alright and try my best!” What a lucky and pampered girl. [We could see that even from her ID on Weibo, which means "Wu Linxin who pursues her dreams while smiling."]

Even high schoolers who aren’t there yet are already feeling the stress. @张优秀 has a very grand vision: “The gao kao in 2013 is 370 days away. Struggle!!”

While far fewer parents voiced their hopes on Weibo, some high school teachers haven’t forgotten to utilize the Weibo platform to drill the last tidbit of pep talk into their students. @华师一孟昭奎 tweeted: “[Correct mentality when answering questions] 1. Be strategic about multiple choices. Don’t stress too much over fill in the blank questions. Facing a huge complicated problem, dissect it into many smaller ones. The more steps you show [even when you can’t finish solving the problem], the more points you get. 2. Overcome possible pessimism or pride when solving the problems. When you see something hard, [remember that] when you can’t do it, others will find it even harder, so don’t be frustrated. When you solve a few small questions smoothly, don’t feel too proud. Perhaps there will be traps in the following question…” What a thorough summary!

Everything that can be possibly mobilized to facilitate the exam process for gao kao candidates is thought of and provided for. In Ürümqi, the capital of Xinjiang province, the Ürümqi Traffic Police (@乌鲁木齐974交通广播) tweeted their phone number on Weibo and asked parents who encounter problems on the road to contact them directly. Even the McDonald’s in Shenzhen is doing its part to help. According to @深圳美食在线, any candidate can get free breakfast from Shenzhen McDonald’s with their exam ID during the days of gao kao.

Although a free sandwich giveaway is beyond its capabilities, Tea Leaf Nation would also like to offer our best wishes to Chinese gao kao candidates this year. Soon, it will all be over.

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Xiaoying Zhou

Xiaoying Zhou is a student at Yale University.