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Students at this Chinese school can ‘borrow marks’ to avoid failing exams

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An international high school in eastern China has introduced a system where students struggling to pass an exam can take a ‘loan’ of marks from a ‘grade bank’ to make the passing grade.

The Nanjing Number One High School in Jiangsu province is running a pilot of this novel scoring scheme in its 10th grade Advanced Placement class, according to the South China Morning Post.

However, it’s not a free pass – students must make up the marks they borrow in subsequent exams, or by completing extra work such as public presentations and lab experiments.

Similar to how the real banking system works, borrowers will need to name a fellow student as a guarantor, and each student will be given a credit rating.

If the borrower fails to make up the deficit in marks they owe, then the guarantor can step in to help clear the debt.

Students are allowed to repay their debt in multiple instalments, but if they fail to honour their debt, then they may be blacklisted from borrowing in the future.

The school’s Physics teacher, Mei Hong, told the paper that the new scheme was aimed at helping pupils get a second chance.

“59 points and 60 points are actually not that different,” she said, “[But because the former means failing the exam while the latter means passing], the difference weighs heavily on students’ psyches.”

Kan Huang, the school’s director, said that the school was trying out the scheme to allow students some breathing room in the face of China’s intensely exam-oriented education system, placing an emphasis on students’ growth instead.

“The purpose of exams is for students to evaluate, correct, and improve their studies, not to make things difficult, punish, or destroy student’s enthusiasm,” she said.

Since the ‘grade bank’ was introduced, 13 out of 49 students in a class have already borrowed marks.

One such pupil told the Yangtse Evening Post that the system had been a life-saver, “Because I was sick, I missed some classes. The mark bank saved my grade.”

In China, pupils in their final year of high school are required to take the gruelling national university entrance exam, known as the Gaokao.

Due to high expectations and the level of competition for limited university places, many students have resorted to cheating using various methods, such as spy cameras hidden in spectacles or jewellery.

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