July 7, 2020 / 6:53 AM / a month ago

Chinese students take gruelling university entrance exam after COVID-19 wait

People wearing face masks wait outside a high school as students take part in the annual national college entrance exam, or "gaokao", which has been postponed by one month due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Beijing, China July 7, 2020. REUTERS/Tingshu Wang

BEIJING (Reuters) - Nearly 11 million high school students sat for China’s annual “gaokao” university entrance exam on Tuesday, after a month’s delay due to the novel coronavirus outbreak, state media reported.

Much of China typically shuts down during the exam, with drivers banned from honking their horns, and police on patrol to make sure students are not disturbed.

In Beijing, exam centres have set up body temperature checkpoints and require students to wear face masks. The city has been trying to quash an outbreak traced to a wholesale market early last month and reported no confirmed cases on Tuesday.

High school students have taken online classes since early February due to the virus, which some said reduced communication with teachers and peers. The exam delay, they said, prolonged the pressure.

    “We had been preparing for the June exam, then suddenly there’s another extra month. I was not prepared for the change. I almost felt like I couldn’t make it,” said an 18-year-old surnamed Jiang.  

    Parents likewise have been feeling the pressure. Large groups waited outside the venue as the students took the exam.

    “Teachers have given them a pile of studying materials,” said a parent surnamed Wang. “My printer almost broke down.”

Reporting by Fang Nanlin and Carlos Garcia; Writing by Christopher Cushing; Editing by Richard Pullin

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