72-year-old man from Liaoning province has decided that after taking the gaokao 19 times, this will be his last year.
The man, surnamed Kang, is a scrap collector who makes money by scrounging the trash and selling what he finds. Over the years, he says that he has spent 3,000 yuan ($430) on registration fees for China’s nationwide university entrance exam. He doesn’t have enough money left over to find books or prep materials, but he has managed to find some helpful items in the trash.
Kang first took the exam back in 1978. Then, after the test’s age restriction was lifted in 2001, he tried again… and has been returning to the testing center each year since then. His lowest score was a 73 last year while his highest one of 303 came in 2009. A perfect gaokao score is 750.
After two decades of test-taking, Kang has decided to call it quits, explaining that he didn’t fare very well on this year’s exam. “I didn’t do the writing,” he told a reporter. “My hands were trembling so I couldn’t write many words.”
On Weibo, netizens have sent out their best wishes to Kang, applauding him for having the perseverance of going through that grueling experience nearly 20 times. “I took the gaokao once and that’s enough for a lifetime,” wrote one commenter.