China: Around The Nation

If at first you don’t succeed: Chinese college hopeful, 50, makes 21st attempt to pass notorious entry exam

Liang Shi has made a successful life as a businessman but has yet to attain his dream of being admitted to a top-tier university

PUBLISHED : Friday, 19 May, 2017, 6:11pm
UPDATED : Friday, 19 May, 2017, 6:11pm

At age 50, Liang Shi has been dubbed China’s “craziest examinee” as he prepares to sit one more time – his 21st attempt – in the hope cracking the notorious national college entry exam, or gaokao, in June, according to mainland media.

Despite being a successful, self-made businessman in Chengdu, the southwest province of Sichuan, Liang has long harboured a desire to go to university.

“Without college experience life is handicapped,” he told The Beijing News.

He started sitting the exam in 1983 – and continued to do so even after his own son graduated from college – but he never quite got the score he desired.

Liang was again cramming for the exam, from 9am to 11pm every day, the paper said.

He failed the exams four times, three in consecutive years, after high school, before he gave up and started a successful business.

But his “college dream” revived when the gaokao lifted the age limit of 25, and opened to all applicants in 2001. He hit the books again and had taken part every year since then.

He scored 453 points out of a possible 750 last year, his personal best, which would have qualified him for a second-tier college. But he didn’t apply to any.

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Liang has set his sights on being admitted to the mathematics department at Sichuan University, one of China’s leading universities. Last year, students wouldn’t get their foot in the door with a score under 620 points.

“Some people spend their lives saving money to buy a house, so why can’t I devote mine trying to get in to a good university?” he asked.

The 2017 gaokao will be held on June 7-9, with about 9 million students competing for college places.