Chinese students partake in an examination of the national college entrance exam, also known as the Gaokao, at a school in Guiyang city, southwest China's Guizhou province, 7 June 2016. Photo: AFP/Qin gang

A high school in Nanjing, a city located in Yangtze River Delta in east China, has introduced a so-called “score bank”, allowing failing students to borrow marks to help them pass exams.

The system created by the International Department of Nanjing No 1 High School, is similar to bank loans. Students who score below 60 out of 100 can submit an application to the assessment committee to borrow from the“score bank.”

“Students scoring 59 or 60 (the passing score) in the exam are pretty much on the same level, but failing an exam has a greater psychological impact on them,” said Yu Hangmen, a physics teacher at the school told The Paper.

The “score bank” aims to ease the pressure on students and reform the conventional evaluation system, which overemphasizes the importance of scores, said Huang Kan, the department director of the school in a story published by The Paper.

Teachers in the assessment committee could reject the application, if they believe the students don’t have the ability to return the borrowed scores in future based on their previous academic performance, or if they have misbehaved and breached school regulations.

An underwriter is another requirement for the success of an application. Students need to provide the name of a classmate, who is willing guarantee the repayment of scores. If the applicant can’t repay the scores, the underwriter must pay with their own marks.

So far, the scheme is only for freshman in the Advanced Placement class, with 13 out of 49 students securing a loan from the “score bank.” Many believe the new system helps them to focus on achieving higher scores in the next exams, instead of dwelling on previous failures.

The Advanced Placement class is a program offering college-level curricula and exams to high school students. The school introduced the program from the American College Board and prepared students for top universities overseas.

However, the score bank could also bring out students’ laziness because they may put too much hope in the next exam, instead of treating the current one seriously, said Xiong Bingqi, an educational expert told Beijing News.

Discussions on Weibo, the Chinese version of Twitter, focus on whether the“score bank” could be applied to more high schools around the nation.

“You can borrow scores for routine exams, but the only important exam you can’t borrow to achieve a pass is gaokao,” said a comment under the related Weibo post, alleging the method is impractical in the context of Chinese enrollment system. Gaokao is the tough Chinese college entrance examination, which is often referred to as “the exam that decides your life.”

Some comments also point out that the “score bank” could only work for students in AP classes, who don’t have to take the life-determining exam gaokao.