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Postgrad-hopefuls sit entrance exams

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There's no rest this weekend for Chinese university students hoping to make it into the next stage of higher education. National entrance exams for postgraduates are being held this weekend. And this year, around 1.8 million postgrad-hopefuls are sitting the test.

Candidates queue to enter examination rooms for sitting the National Entrance Examination for Postgraduate (NEEP) at North China University of Technology in Beijing, capital of China, Jan. 5, 2013. [Xinhua] 

Han Wanyun has just finished the first session of the written test. This is not her first attempt at the crucial exams to get into postgraduates courses.

Han Wanyun, Postgraduate candidate, said, "I took the test last year but failed. I think I performed my best in the morning session today. I am quite confident this time."

On the first weekend of 2013, over 1.8 million candidates are attending the National Entrance Examination for Postgraduates, hitting a new record high.

According to the exam administration, around 70 percent of the candidates are this year's leavers. Many say more graduate students are choosing to continue their studies to avoid the pressures of job hunting.

Du Yuan, Postgraduate candidate, said, "This year's competition is quite fierce, because the job market is weak. Many of my coursemates haven't found jobs yet. So doing a masters degree can buy us a few years' time."

But these students could be set for disappointment. National statistics show, the employment rates of postgraduate students were in fact lower than graduates for three years in a row, from 2009 to 2011. Doing a postgraduate degree may not be the guaranteed answer to finding a good job.

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