A Chinese entrepreneur claims to have failed the country's rigorous university entrance examinations for the twenty-seventh time.
On Friday, Liang Shi, age 56, discovered that he had scored only 424 out of 750 possible points. The score is 34 points below the minimum required to apply to any Chinese university.
This year, approximately 13 million students took the exam. Mr. Liang's previous endeavors to pursue higher education have garnered local media coverage. Mr. Liang, who has taken the exam dozens of times since 1983, expressed dissatisfaction with his performance this year and questioned whether he would ever realize his goal.
"I used to say, 'I just can't believe I won't make it,' but now I'm conflicted," the man from Sichuan told sources. Gaokao, a notoriously rigorous examination, tests high school graduates on their Chinese, mathematics, English, and an additional science or humanities topic of their choosing.
In 2021, only 41.6% of exam candidates were accepted into universities or colleges, according to data from the Chinese sources. In a country where a degree is essential for a decent job, the Gaokao is viewed as a make-or-break opportunity, particularly for those from lower-income families.
Since the 1950s, the exams have been the focal point of the country's education system, despite being suspended during the Cultural Revolution. Mr. Liang stated that he had always desired to attend a prestigious university and become an "intellectual."
After failing his first attempt in 1983 when he was 16 years old, he worked various jobs but continued to register annually until 1992, when he was deemed too old. In the mid-1990s, Mr. Liang opened his own timber wholesale business after the factory he worked for went insolvent in the same year.
He quickly became a much more successful merchant than a student; he earned one million yuan in one year and then began a business selling construction materials. When the Chinese government abolished the age restriction for the Gaokao in 2001, he resumed his education. Due to poor health or a busy work schedule, he had neglected the annual exams.
Throughout the years, he has transitioned from a desire to alter his destiny to an unwillingness to give up, he explained. In 2014, he told the local newspaper The Papers, "I think it's a shame if you don't go to college; your life is incomplete without higher education."
On June 7 of this year, he returned to the testing center to take the examinations. In order to focus on his academics as the No. 1 Gaokao holdout, he had abstained from alcohol and mahjong. However, it was not to be, once again.
Mr. Liang stated that, in contrast to previous years, he is beginning to feel defeated. He told sources that he has been considering whether or not he should continue. In a second interview with a local sources, Mr. Liang expressed additional concerns.
"I might give up (next year)," he declared. "If I attend next year and fail, I will give up my last name, Liang."