You’ve worn your glasses, sharpened your pencils, and prepped yourself for that chance in your life of becoming an A-level student. Yet there’s one thing you can’t have with you on that grueling examination day: your bra.


But only if you live in Jilin, a province in northeast China, where education officials ban bras during the country’s annual university entrance exams, popularly dubbed as “gaokao.”

This year brings another serious effort by education chiefs to curb cheating, banning metal objects or anything that sets off detectors installed near the exam area. Surprisingly, bras aren’t an exemption, as these pieces of lingerie can be a sneaky tool to embed listening devices or transmitters by those desperate enough to score better on the tests.

Before the exam, education officials sent letters to the candidates’ parents, informing them of the strict policies and guidelines, part of which is banning anything that triggers a beeping alarm in metal detectors. And bras, most often fitted with metal wires or clips, will not be allowed.

Also, a doctor’s note is required for those with metal implants or fillings.

After about a year of intense preparation, cramming, and sometimes emotional despair — leading even to suicide in some cases — more than nine million Chinese students will sit in examination rooms on Friday and Saturday to spend hours of responding to a relentless battery of test questions.

For many, whether or not they finally have that bright future ahead will depend largely on the results of the exam. It is this make-or-break situation that drives a number of students to desperate measures.

The night before last year’s exam, about 1,500 arrests were made. The crackdown targeted those reported to have stolen examination papers and those who sold devices suspected as tools for cheating.

Some devices seized by the authorities were clear plastic earphones, leather belts, wireless signal receivers, and watches.

A trader in Guangdong reports selling earpieces for £90 per item.

While many students openly accept the strict policy, some see it as worrisome or inconvenient. Others, on the lighter side, wittingly point out that there is one group in the student population whose performance may likely be affected by the bra ban: the boys.