The country’s 45th National College Entrance Examination, commonly referred to as the gaokao, will take place in 330,000 centers across the country under the auspices of more than one million examiners and coordinators, China’s state newspaper, the Global Times, reported.

A total of 11.93 million aspiring students are expected to sit this year’s exams, which run until June 9, an increase of over 10.5% compared to last year.

The exam covers Chinese, math, and a foreign language for all students, with differing sections for those planning to major in social or natural sciences. There are variations from region to region.

The pandemic has made this tough two-day exam even more challenging.

Under China’s strict “zero covid” policy, even a single positive case at a school could put everyone into quarantine. To ensure an outbreak wouldn’t derail college hopes, schools across the country sealed themselves off weeks before the gaokao, with students and teachers alike barred from leaving campus.

Many gaokao takers have had their three years of high school study repeatedly disrupted by pandemic lockdowns and periods of remote learning.

In Shanghai, China’s most populous city, the gaokao has been delayed by a month, as the city emerges from a traumatic two-month lockdown.

According to Washingtonpost