The Gaokao for the Visually Impaired in China: an Inspiring Story about Ang Ziyu

The Gaokao (高考) is an examination that is taken by Chinese students in their third and final year of high school typically in early June. It is also the lone criterion for admission into Chinese universities. One Chinese saying vividly compares the exam to a stampede of “thousands of soldiers and tens of thousands of horses across a single log bridge” (千军万马过独木桥. Don’t overlook the power of earning one more point than your fellow competitors. You can eliminate tens of thousands of competitors behind you and attend a better university merely by scoring one more point. It is even harder for visually impaired students in China to take the Gaokao. Even though they can barely see, they have great zeal for knowledge just like us.

The exam format is presented in braille for visually impaired students. Braille is basically a code in which a sequence of dots represents each letter of the alphabet. The dotted code can be pushed into paper, or embossed, to create raised dots that can be felt by fingers. Besides the format difference, the questions they get and the difficulty of the exam are completely the same as those without visual disabilities. In addition, they only have 50% more time than others to finish the exam. Thus, they don’t get many privileges.

Photo on the right:Braille alphabet with the corresponding printed letters. In Braille, each letter of the alphabet has its own set of dots like a secret code language. (

With the publication of the Gaokao Exams results for 2020, it was reported that there were five students with visual impairments who took the Gaokao exam. One of them, a student from Anhui Province named Ang Ziyu who was taking the Gaokao for the second time, gained an excellent grade of 635, a score 120 points above the admission line for tier one universities. When Ang was 3 years old, he was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa, an incurable disease in which eyesight is gradually weakened. When Ang’s parents saw the report, they were desperate. But over time, they were able to accept the reality and started to homeschool Ang. Ang’s mother is a Chinese teacher. With the help of his mother, Ang was able to recite a lot of Chinese ancient poetry and memorize Three Days to See, a thrilling story by Hellen Keller which inspired him to persist in studying harder materials. Because Ang cannot see, his father always sat next to him and read some questions out loud, helping him prepare for the Gaokong. The test-prep books Ang’s father read to him can be piled up to 3 meters. Ang encountered difficulties when preparing for the Gaokao. During an interview with Peng Chen, Ang said, “I sometimes felt desperate about magnetic field problems in Physics. At those specific moments, I just wish that God could have given me a pair of eyes.” After the results of the Gaokao Exam were released, Ang was successfully accepted by Minzu University of China and majored in finance.

Ang said at the end of the interview, “I truly wish my story can encourage more visually impaired students, give them confidence, and bring them hope.” The current public perception of blind students is still very stereotypical. They are never seen as equals to their able-bodied counterparts. However, Ang used his actions and broke the stereotype about the visually-impaired students among the general public.

A photo of Ang studying from

Works Cited:

Explainer: Everything You Need to Know About the Gaokao. That's Online. (n.d.). .

"盲人学霸"昂子喻:曾高考551分,复读后636分,太励志!. (n.d.).

Peng, C. (n.d.). Far From Equitable: The Braille Gaokao and the Uneven Path for the Visually Impaired. Youth Observation Contest

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