56-Year-Old Self-Made Millionaire in China Fails Gao Kao for 27 Times

  • Liang Shi, 56, has failed China’s intense college entry exam for the 27th time, per AFP.
  • The self-made millionaire who started taking the test in 1983 harbors dreams of going to university.
  • He’s not sure if he’s going to retake the exam next year.

Liang Shi, a 56-year-old self-made millionaire in China, has failed the country’s notoriously intense college entry exam — for the 27th time, AFP reported on Monday.

It’s not like Liang needs to go to college. After all, the former factory worker has his own construction materials business and is a millionaire, per AFP. But he has always harbored dreams of going to college.

“It’s an uncomfortable thought that I didn’t manage to get a college education,” Liang told AFP earlier this month. “I really want to go to university and become an intellectual.”

To do that, Liang needs to take China’s once-a-year college entrance exam, or gao kao — a make-or-break mother of all exams that’s like the SAT, ACT, and all of the AP tests rolled into two days, as Insider’s Matthew Loh put it. The process is so intense that police are often deployed to maintain order on the roads and in schools on the days of the exams.

Liang started taking the exam in 1983 when he was 16 but gave up for about a decade from 1992 as the test was only for single people under the age of 25, per AFP. He resumed the process again in 2001 when those limits were lifted.

To set himself up against 13 million high school seniors taking the same exam, Liang told the news agency he lived “the life of an ascetic monk” for the few months before the test and studied for 12 hours each day.

Still, Liang failed again — falling 34 points short of the Sichuan provincial baseline score for getting into any university, per AFP.

“Before I got the result, I had a feeling that I wouldn’t be able to get a high enough score to enter an elite university,” he told the media outlet. “But I didn’t expect to not make it into the ordinary ones.”

After trying and failing for 40 years, Liang’s now unsure if he’ll give the exam another shot. “It’s hard to say whether I will keep on preparing for the next year,” he told AFP.

Insider was unable to reach Liang for comment.

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