Exam fail

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The people who can"t quite get a government job

Image caption Applicants get ready for China"s National Civil Service Exam, which attracts a million candidates each year

It"s a fiendishly difficult "brain burning" exam that promises those who pass a job for life. And that prize is so coveted that some come back again and again for more test punishment.

China"s National Civil Service Exam or "Guokao" took place this week. Every year around a million people take the test in an attempt to get one of about 27,000 government jobs dubbed "iron rice bowls", with guaranteed job security, steady income and benefits. Chances of success are 36 to one this year.

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