衡水中学 (Héngshuĭ Zhōngxué) is China’s most notorious, most hotly debated, and highest-ranked high school.
Located in Hébĕi province a few hours south of Bĕijīng, the boarding school is feared and admired throughout China. Adhering to a military-style timetable, students study for 14+ hours a day, 7 days a week, with no cell phones, no snacking, and most certainly no dating.
All this is to get a good score in the universally dreaded gāokăo, the final exam at the end of high school that single-handedly determines where you can go to university. And however controversial the school’s methods might be, students at Héngshuĭ indeed score higher than all the rest, and the school sends more students to top universities than any other high school.
The school has been called a prison by the media, perhaps prompted by the bars over the windows, allegedly put there to prevent suicide.
Why not get up at 5.30 for a morning run? Baidu Baike