China's National Higher Education Entrance Examination (commonly known as Gaokao) is a two-day, nine-hour, monumentally stressful examination that the country's 9.4 million graduating high school students took earlier this week.
The grade on this test is the only qualification many Chinese universities consider for admittance, so for the many ambitious Chinese students and their families, the stakes are high. And the pressure, huge.
It is, as Star Newsnotes, a perfect scenario for shrewd businessmen to take advantage of anxious parents. We've read in the past about hotels around testing sites jacking up their rates by over 1,000 RMB ($152) during the week leading up to the exam, as proximity to the testing centers means students won't lose precious studying time or arrive late because of traffic. Many hotel restaurants also offer special expensive "test packages" advertising meals with the perfect nutritious proportions and products to enhance immunity and prevent fatigue. These gimmicks attract desperate parents searching for any score-booster on an exam they believe will largely determine their child's destiny.
This year, as the exam began Monday, Chinese media reported the appearance of a new offer: Though many parents travel with their children, they now can also hire a "Entrance Examination Nanny". China Newsreports that parents can hire university students to watch over their graduating seniors at and around the testing sites. For 300 RMB per hour ($45), the exam nannies take care of numerous tasks, from last-minute tutoring to relieving psychological strain to ensuring nutritious meals.
All that's left, it seems, is finding a way for the exam to take itself!