An Examination Season
(from January to March)

●試験 examination
●入学試験 entrance examination
●受験する (to) take an examination; (to) sit for an examination;
(to) undergo an examination; (to) go through an examination
●受験に合格する (to) pass an entrance examination
●受験に失敗する (to) fail an entrance examination
●受験生 student preparing for an entrance examination
●受験者 candidate for an examination; examinee
●受験科目 examination subject; subject of an examination
●受験料 examination fee
●受験票 applicant’s identification card
●受験番号 examinee’s (seat) number
●受験資格 qualification to take an examination
●受験戦争 examination war
●受験地獄 (the) examination hell
●受験産業 entrance examination industry
●塾 juku; cram school; private tutoring school; preparatory school
●予備校生 yobiko; college preparatory school; college preparation school
●浪人生 ronin-sei; high school graduate who failed an entrance examination and is preparing for the next year’s opportunity.

Educational standards in Japan are very high, and the literacy rate is said to be 99.8% which ranks as the best in the world.

Compulsory education in Japan is 9 years in all: 6 years in elementary school and 3 years in junior high school.

In recent years, the ratio of students who went to senior high school has reached almost 100%.

More than 50% of high school students go on to universities, colleges, junior colleges, or technical colleges.

One of the reasons why the examination war intensified was the belief that an educational background was the key to success in the future.

In Japan, people sometimes make more of which university one graduated from rather than what one actually studied.

When baby boomers after World War ll took entrance examinations, the examination hell became more intense.

Very young children are sometimes involved in the entrance examination war, and some parents force their small children to study very hard.

Taking entrance examinations of famous kindergartens or elementary schools is called “O-juken”.

They must survive fierce competition to pass the entrance examinations especially for kindergartens and elementary schools attached to prestigious junior high schools, senior high schools, and colleges.

There are even preparatory schools to teach how to pass entrance examinations for such kindergartens and elementary schools.

Seeing the results, we find that more students from combined private junior high and senior high schools pass college and university exams with highly competitive admissions.

At first, private high schools select children with almost the same academic level, so teachers can achieve better results in class.

They can also give lessons in a more flexible curriculum in comparison to public schools.

Therefore, they can spend a lot of time to have students in the 11th and 12th grades solve practical questions for entrance examinations.

There is an intense competition between elementary pupils who want to go to famous combined private junior high and senior high schools in order to enter good universities.

Most of the students preparing for entrance examinations go to preparatory schools, or they are taught by private tutors.

A high school graduate who failed an entrance examination and is preparing for the next year’s opportunity is called “ronin-sei”.

Most ronin-seis go to college preparatory schools, and study for the next entrance examination.

On the other hand, success of the entrance examinations depends on teachers’ skill at public high schools in the countryside where there are few such private high schools or preparatory schools.

Since the time the five-day school week system started, many teachers make original teaching materials, and give supplementary lessons without pay on Saturdays which, by law, are their days off.

Besides these eager teachers, study aids and manuals for entrance examinations and correspondence education are very helpful to the students who cannot go to preparatory schools.

Many people are doubtful about entrance examinations which make the cramming system of education intense, and that it sorts people by scores.

Some students study so hard that they suffer from burnout and don’t study after they enter schools or colleges.

When the examination war became too intense, people started to criticize the climate where competition between students was stirred.

And then, “Yutori-kyoiku” started to motivate students to study voluntarily without excessive competitions at school.

However, it is pointed out that Yutori-kyoiku has caused a decline in academic standards, so now people are re-evaluating the importance of competition.

Tangible advantages of entrance examinations are these: students are motivated to study for entrance examinations, and they realize “their efforts are rewarded” if they pass them.

Until some decades ago, the entrance examination industry, like cram schools and college preparatory schools, was often criticized.

Nowadays, it is an obvious fact that they play an important role in increasing academic competence.

Recently, competition has tended to ease because of the fewer number of children and the increase in the number of schools and the number to be admitted.

And entrance examinations have become more diversified year after year, such as general entrance examinations, recommendation entrance examinations, and AO entrance examinations.

In this way, the system of entrance examinations has been changing, but educational background still counts for a lot in Japan.

Entrance examinations will continue to be a big event for students in the future.

(Please see “My Entrance Examination Season Experience” and “Lucky Food for Entrance Examinations” for further information.)

Copyright (C) Azure Global Network Services. All Rights Reserved.