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At 8:30 am, parents, police and paramedics lined up at the gate of the High School Affiliated to Renmin University of China in Beijing. All came to help their "soldiers" on the battleground — students taking China's college entrance exam.
Parents of Chai Zixin push their son's wheelchair into the national college entrance examination site at Yucai Middle School in Xi'an, capital of Northwest China's Shaanxi province, on Thursday. Chai broke his leg about 10 days before the exam. Yuan Jingzhi / for China Daily.
On Thursday and Friday, 9.15 million students will take the national college entrance exam, or gaokao, competing for 6.85 million spaces in college.
Outside the examination site, parents sit on the ground and wait for the two-and-half hour exam to end, chatting with each other to kill time.
"I will wait here in case he has emergencies, such as stomachache," said a father surnamed Zhu.
To ease traffic pressure in Beijing, leaders of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization also contributed their efforts.
The SCO summit was initially planned to be held at 9 am on Thursday in Beijing. But organizers decided to delay the starting time by 30 minutes to alleviate traffic congestion for the 73,000 students in Beijing traveling to the exam sites.
"We arrived at 7:30 am and will stay until the exam finishes. Some emergencies may occur during the exam, for example, some students may faint in the classroom and we have prepared some medical services accordingly," said a doctor surnamed Xin of the Beijing Emergency Medical Center, who stayed in an ambulance at the exam site.
Song Zhigang, a police officer, told China Daily that the police stay at the exam sties every year.
"We provide drinking water, fans and medicine to the parents waiting outside. This year is my fourth time coming here, but I still feel nervous as if I am sitting in the exam room, as the students remind me of the time I took gaokao," Song said.
Some students who will take gaokao next year visited the exam sites to get a feel for the atmosphere.
"I have come to the spot since grade one in junior school to feel the tense atmosphere, and thus to make myself better prepared when it is my turn," said Meng Fanzhao, now in his second year in high school.
"The competition for a prestigious university seemed to start when my son went to school when he was 6 years old. Children compete for higher scores to enter a better middle school, then a better high school. And all this preparation is for today's fight," said Zhao Xichen, a father in Shaanxi province, whose child attends gaokao this year.
"I feel my son will be relieved after this final fight, and so will I," Zhao said.
Tang Shi contributed to this story.