• A group of Chinese students reviewing for the national college entrance exams or “gaokao.”

A group of Chinese students reviewing for the national college entrance exams or “gaokao.” (Photo : BLSHE.com/Beijing Cream)

China sends SWAT to crackdown on cheaters in this year’s national college entrance examination and teaches them a lesson through imprisonment.

A report from Reuters featured the very strict rules faced by the Chinese youth who registered to take the examination, more popularly known as the "gaokao."

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According to the state-run Xinhua News Agency, around 9.4 million high school students will take this week's exam and compete to earn their place in universities in the country including Tsinghua University and Peking University, citing the Chinese Ministry of Education.

The Gaokao

Describing it as China's "grueling two-day college entrance examination," CNN News reported how the gaokao can mean so much for millions of high school students.

"Much of China goes into effective lockdown during the test, with factories and building sites closed down, drivers banned from honking their horns, and police on patrol to ensure students aren't disturbed," the report read, noting that the country takes such event very seriously.

Dating back to the imperial times, the traditional gaokao is held annually at the end of the academic year during the third and last year of Chinese students in high school, the Chinese Culture explained.

Test subjects vary depending on the region where it is held, but they usually cover Chinese language and literature, mathematics, a foreign language (which oftentimes is English), and another subject of the student's choice based on their preferred major in college.

Some of the elective subjects the students choose from include social studies, politics, physics, history, biology or chemistry.

Every year, the two-day gaokao makes the headlines of media outlets because of the strict surroundings and "notoriously hard" test questions, BBC News noted.

What Happens to Cheaters

Xinhua said that the ministry called on to its staff and the citizens of the country "to create favorable conditions for the exam" where police will be sent out to patrol the testing grounds.

Drivers and passersby were also advised not to honk their horns and maintain quiet while passing along the school grounds where the gaokao is taking place.

In another report, the state-run media also warned students to refrain from cheating, which is now punishable by as much as seven years of imprisonment.

Effective on Nov. 1 last year, China's Criminal Law was amended to include punishment for cheaters during the gaokao, a move which is considered to be the "toughest measure to guard the exam's fairness."

While many agree to such move with some parents arguing that it would be best to keep the test fair, some believe that it might be too severe.

"Its effect on society is not that severe, so I think writing cheating in state-level exams into the Criminal Law is taking things too far," said Liu Lijun, a parent of a student from Hefei City, Anhui Province.