56-year-old Chinese millionaire takes college entrance exam for 27th time

Liang Shi, 56

7th June 2023 – (Beijing) Liang Shi, a grey-haired, self-made millionaire, is taking China’s notorious “gaokao” college entrance exam for the 27th time. While millions of high school seniors compete to get into elite universities, Liang has been trying to achieve his dream of studying at Sichuan University by passing the exam.

Liang worked his way up from a menial job on a factory floor to establishing his own successful construction materials business. However, a college education has always been his unfulfilled aspiration. To compete with nearly 13 million high school seniors taking the gaokao this year, Liang has been living “the life of an ascetic monk” for the past few months, studying textbooks for 12 hours a day.

Despite taking the exam 26 times before, Liang has consistently failed to get the required result to attend his chosen university. He first took the gaokao in 1983 at the age of 16 and has been trying to boost his score ever since. He had to give up in 1992 when the test was restricted to single people under 25, but his desire for a prestigious college education was rekindled as soon as those limits were lifted in 2001.

Liang has taken the gaokao another 16 times since then, including every year since 2010, even when harsh zero-COVID-19 restrictions made taking the exam more challenging than normal. He has had to give up drinking and playing mahjong during the preparation period.

While some have questioned whether Liang’s quest is merely a publicity stunt, he insists that it is not. “No one in their right mind would spend decades taking the gaokao for a stunt,” he retorted. He added that his son, who took the gaokao himself in 2011, did not initially approve of his decision to take the exam again and is now indifferent to it.