Education chiefs in the Jilin province of China have banned any metal objects and items of clothing that could set off metal detectors, including bras and belts. Students with metal fillings will have to present a doctor’s note.
Students in China take gaokao, the national college entrance exam, this week. More than nine million graduating students will take the gaokao, or “high test,” on Friday and Saturday. The results will determine which college they can attend – if they get to attend college at all.
The nine-hour test covers math, science, English and Chinese and includes an 800-character essay. Test takers have gone so far as to hook themselves up to IV bags of amino acids just to get through cramming for the test, The GlobalPost reported.
New metal detectors set up outside the testing facility are meant to prevent test takers from bringing listening devices and transmitters into the exam hall.
"This year, Jilin will adopt the strictest entrance exam security check in history," said the state news agency, Xinhua.
Parents were informed about the new procedure in a letter stating, "When students and staff enter the exam venue they will have their clothes, accessories, shoes, hats and any carry-ins strictly checked by professionals and will only be allowed to enter if the equipment does not set off an alarm. Therefore, any article that contains metal and can trigger beeping from the security machines will become obstacles for the candidates."
So much is at stake that cheaters have been extraordinarily creative in the past. Last year, the police detained more than 1,500 test takers suspected of stealing exams or using cheating devices.
"More than 60,000 electronic devices were seized during the operation, including clear, plastic earphones, wireless signal receivers, and modified pens, watches, glasses and leather belts, which are all forbidden from being sold in China," reported the China Daily in June 2012.
"I was told when I was little that only through gaokao can I really get somewhere in our life instead of being stuck in a small, backward place," said GlobalPost researcher, Zhao Chen. "I remember that when I was in the last year in my high school, my eyesight failed badly since we were almost buried every day in book stacks. We got up at 6:30 and studied till 10:30 or even later. And we only had a half day off of school per week. Almost no entertainment activities at all."
The number of gaokao takers have decreased recently with a peak of 10.5 million in 2008. Chinese students studying abroad was up 23 percent in 2012. Critics claim the exam causes psychological strain, favors students from large, rich areas and is based on memorization rather than critical or creative thinking.