What’s the point of spending 12-hours a day studying for the hardest exam in the world if it doesn’t alter the course of your future in the end?
It’s a question Chinese students and their families must consider as they await the results of national university entrance exams this summer.
The gruelling, notorious Gaokao exam is the only way to access higher education in China. For many it could open the door to prosperity and a chance to lift not only their parents but their entire family in to China’s burgeoning middle class.
READ: Does the cramming pay off in the end and what do employers think?
Click on the arrow above to learn more about what the students sacrifice — from food to sleep to relationships — to try to ace the Gaokao.
To comment on this story or anything else you have seen on BBC Capital, head over to our Facebook page or message us on Twitter.