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Quake survivors ready for college exam next week
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About 96,000 high-school students in China's quake zones are doing their final cramming for a special college entrance exam next week -- almost a month after the rest of the country, which was postponed by the disaster.

About 58 percent of the 205 prospective examinees in Sichuan Province's worst hit areas of Dujiangxian, Shifang, Guanghan and Anxian said in a survey they were "reasonably prepared" for the exam on July 3.

Another 68 students, 33 percent of those surveyed, said they felt the exam was too soon because they have yet to recover from the May 12 earthquake which has claimed nearly 70,000 lives.

"Although earthquake has caused heartbreak in my family, I will try my best to get a good score in the exam and enter a good university, and live up to the expectations of my parents," said Tang Shijun, a student in Anxian county.

Tang's parents died during the earthquake. He chose "reasonably prepared" as his answer in the questionaire, but he admitted it was "hard to concentrate" on studies.

The 96,000 students from 45 cities and counties, which were granted a one-month grace period, will take the exam at 81 venues in Sichuan, according to the Sichuan education and exam institute.

The disaster relief headquarters of Dujiangyan relocated almost 4,000 teachers and students from nine high schools to a college after the quake.

Zhang Qing, head of the Dujiangyan city Education Bureau, said:

"The psychological status of these students has changed. The relatively quiet and closed environment can help them concentrate on their studies, as they are studying with familiar teachers and peers.

Mostly only children, many of the teenagers are still recovering from the biggest trauma of their lives and the deaths of relatives and friends. Reports said about 7,000 students died in the havoc, many of them were buried by poorly-constructed school buildings.

The Anxian study venue is hosting dozens of students from Beichuan, all of whom have lost relatives or even parents.

Huang Rongyun, 18, from Beichuan's Qushan Township of Beichuan County, often loses concentration. She lost her father and uncle in the quake and she answered "too soon" in the survey.

"I can't help recalling the scene, and my father," she said. She also worried about her future: what she would do if she failed to get into college and whether she could find a good job.

Many schools have provided psychiatric counseling for teachers and students during the preparation period to help them cope.

Hu Xiaoguang, a China Academy of Social Sciences researcher, suggested psychologists should help students face up their futures, rather than just the exam.

(Xinhua News Agency June 27, 2008)

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