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A college exam for 8 million Chinese pupils

Millions of Chinese high school students can breathe a sigh of relief as the fourth and final day of national college entrance exams comes to a close Thursday. In some Chinese cities, authorities are diverting traffic, suspending construction, and banning street hawking to create a quiet, less stressful environment for the test-takers. According to Chinese news service Xinhua, 8.67 million people have registered for the exams, but only 1 in every 4 who sit for the exams will be eligible for university enrollment.

A college degree does not necessarily translate into high pay, but it carries unprecedented prestige. Urban parents are pushing their kids to develop at at ever-younger ages. Every family wants their son to be a dragon, their daughter to be a phoenix. These are the symbols for power, capability, assertiveness, success. The college exams can often be seen as an important "ticket" for family success.

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Moreover, as China opens up, more students dream of studying abroad. Even freshman counsel each other to learn English, and to start strategizing early. Colleges in England and the US have been hot. But recently, Australia, Malaysia, Thailand, and Singapore, beckon.

The tests typically measure facts and figures, information and knowledge. Only slowly has there been discussion of creativity, though some educators say that will develop. For now, the key thing is to know the answer - not how to ask the question.

Wire material was used.