Over 9.5 million Chinese students on Thursday appeared for the national college entrance examination, the largest of its kind in the world.
The exam is regarded as one of the most important events in the lives of Chinese students that could decide their lives in a fiercely competitive society.
The examination will last for two days for students in 26 provincial areas, and three or four days in Shanghai, Shandong, Guangdong, Hainan and Jiangsu.
The Ministry of Education said earlier that a record 10.1 million people had applied to take the exam, and only 5.67 million would be able to enter college.
It is not only a fight for the candidates, but also an impact on their families and the whole society as eager parents of single-child families accompany their wards to the exam centres.
In Huangshan City, east China's Anhui Province, an aircraft's route was changed this afternoon, as parents worried the noise could affect their children's listening comprehension in the English test, Xinhua news agency reported.
Prior to the exam, authorities conducted checks around many electronic markets, confiscating many smart devices that could help students cheat.
This year marks the 30th anniversary of the restoration of the national college entrance examination, or "gaokao" in Chinese.
Over the past three decades, almost 60 million Chinese took part in gaokao, with 10 million enrolled at universities.