Annual college entrance examinations, commonly known as the “gaokao”, kick-off tomorrow throughout the PRD. While most students face their exams with a sense of dread, not everyone is frowning. Where there’s a yuan to be made, businesses won’t be far behind, and student examinations are no exception. Yet according to a report in the Nan Fang Daily, the real money isn’t in tutoring and preparatory classes as one might expect, it’s in hotel rooms and nutritional supplements.
The hotel industry is making a pretty penny renting hotel rooms to studying students, charging upwards of 1000RMB per night. As the gaokao lasts two days, most parents have booked rooms for their children for three consecutive nights, while some parents have gone so far as to book several rooms to accommodate the whole family, presumably for moral support.
The growing trend has become so common that many Shenzhen hotels were booked solid months in advance. One Shenzhen mother looking for a “gaokao room” for her son vented her frustration on Weibo: “My son is taking the college entrance examination. He asked me to book him a hotel room near his exam but after searching all morning I’m unable to find him one. All of the rooms have been booked.”
While hotels have been quick to capitalize on the recent trend, competition within the industry has become fierce. To attract students, several hotels have introduced promotions such as room discounts, free midnight snacks, breakfast, and shuttle service to and from exams. One Longgang hotel even offers a 2B pencil (official pencil of the exam), and sharpener.
Hotels aren’t the only industry capitalizing on the exams; the health food industry is also onboard. Nutritional supplements to improve the immune system and enhance memory, such as DHA and fish oil, are big business come exam time. According to one pharmacist, sales of these supplements have more than doubled in the last month.
Whether any of the remedies actually work is highly debatable. According to Zhang Maoxiang, director of the Shenzhen Hospital of Nutrition, “These types of health care products have been found to delay the onset of cerebral arteriosclerosis and dementia in the elderly. Memory may have a supporting role, but there is no evidence that it can improve cognition, memory or the ability of young candidates to think.”
To those students unable to reserve a hotel room, or get their hands on fancy supplements, we at The Nanfang (for what it’s worth) recommend a strong cup of chamomile tea and a good night’s sleep.