Many of us have been there hopelessly unprepared for an exam, wishing we had studied more and certain of a failing mark. Now for students at one school in China, success is guaranteed, but it comes at a price.
A high school in eastern China has set up a “grade bank”, where students who would normally fail a test can borrow points to push them over the line into a passing mark.
But nothing in life is free, and students must repay their borrowed grades with even higher scores on a future exam. Students can also do extra work in the form of lab experiments or public presentations to repay the bank.
China’s education system is heavily dependent on just a few major exams, with entry into college almost entirely determined by one test in the final year of school.
Students are under so much pressure to perform, many attempt increasingly hi-tech methods of cheating. Spy cameras and radio devices have been found hidden in jewellery, spectacles, wallets, pens, rulers and underwear.
“The purpose of exams are for students to evaluate, correct and improve their studies, not to make things difficult, punish, destroy student’s enthusiasm,” Huang Kan, a director at the school, told the Yangtse Evening News.
Huang also lamented the culture in China where “one test determines your life”.
The “grade bank” at Nanjing No. 1 High School is currently only in the pilot phase, and so far only available for advanced students in the international department.
One student, identified only as Gui, recently used the bank to borrow seven points in order to receive a passing grade of 60 on a physics test, the newspaper reported, but most students usually need only one or two points.
“The difference in learning between a score of 59 points and 60 points is not large, but the psychological impact on students is huge,” said Mei Hong, a physics teacher at the school.
So far about a quarter of the students in the pilot program have borrowed from the bank.
Like a real bank, borrowing marks will incur interest, and students can repay their debt in installments. Any students still in debt at the end of the semester will get a “red mark” on their record.