o take the national college entrance examination, or gaokao, to be ad
mitted to a university. Independent enrollment was added as an alternative admission met
hod in 2003 to allow some key universities to enroll students based on subjective criteria.
Currently, 90 universities have allocated 5 percent of their enrollment slots to indepen
dent students with special talents. They admit more than 20,000 such students every year.
Tests of academic competence and interviews are usually required. Universit
ies start the independent enrollment process in March, while the gaokao takes place in June.
The gaokao is a highly competitive and stressful test, and in some provinces with large num
bers of high school graduates, a single point can separate more than 1,000 students. The exams create a lot of anxiety amo
ng students and parents, and some will do anything possible, even committing fraud, to be admitted to a better university.