Liang Shi stands out like a sore thumb among the millions of fresh-faced high school students taking China's dreaded "gaokao" college entrance exam on Wednesday, reported China Daily.
He is a gray-haired, self-made millionaire who is resolutely taking the test for the 27th time.
Liang, 56, rose from a lowly position on the factory floor to start his own successful business selling construction materials.
However, he has always lacked a dream: getting a sufficiently high score on the famously tiresome gaokao to study at the top-level Sichuan College.
Liang claimed that he has been living "the life of an ascetic monk" for the past few months, waking up shortly after sunrise to ferociously study textbooks for twelve hours a day in order to compete with the nearly 13 million high school seniors taking the exam this year.
Liang didn't make it to his first gaokao in 1983. He attempted once more in the following two years but had no luck.
His parents convinced him to enroll in a technical school in 1986. After just one year, he left. He stated that he did not want to work with noisy machines.
He continued to study for the test and worked odd jobs.
In 1991, he went to work at a wood processing plant and got married. However, he didn't abandon Gaokao.
In 1992, he could go to a grown-up gaokao because it was as far as possible. He confessed to Nanjing Forestry University, but he wasn't happy with it, so he didn't go.
He was fired that same year. He was a salesman and worked to support his family. He sold clothing, refrigerators, TVs, and hardware. Later, he started a factory that made building materials and made a million yuan in less than a year.
The Ministry of Education abolished the age restriction for attending gaokao in 2001. Once more, Liang picked up his books.
He only had time to take the test in 2002 and 2006 because he was so wrapped up in his business. From 2010 to 2022, he sat for the test for 13 consecutive years.
His best score came in 2018 when he got 469 out of the complete 750. He scored 462 in 2019. However, as his objective was Sichuan University, a Double First-Class university, he did not submit an application.
He has earned a reputation among gaokao for his numerous attempts, which yield inconsistent results.
His son, who stepped through the examination in 2011 with him and has graduated with a graduate degree, doesn't want him to be in the spotlight.