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High school entrance exam

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This page contains information on the entrance exam system (高校入試; koukou nyuushi) for Japanese high schools.

Overview

Compulsory education (義務教育; gimu kyouiku) ends at junior high school. As such, students are not required to attend high school in Japan. Nevertheless, many do, and that makes it a highly competitive process.


The high school entrance system is divided into three stages:

  • The Preliminary Selection Test
  • The General Selection Test
  • The Secondary Application

Passing any one of the above tests guarantees high school enrollment, and exempts students from the necessity of taking any subsequent tests.


Many high schools offer only a single course (or track). In this case, all students testing for enrollment compete against each other. However some senior high schools offer multiple courses (or tracks). In this case, students test for enrollment only for a single course, and only compete against other students who have also elected that course.

(Note: Some high schools which offer multiple courses do not separate their courses for enrollment purposes. They instead offer a single, comprehensive entrance exam for all of their courses combined)

The test for all public senior high schools is the same and is made every year by the Senior High School Education Division of the Akita Prefectural Board of Education. It can be found on the Akita Prefectural BoE's website afterward.

Applicants per Spot (倍率)

One of the biggest deciding factors for students when selecting a high school to apply to is the Applicants per Spot (倍率; bairitsu) number. The Applicants per Spot number is equal to the number of Applicants divided by the number of Spots Available, expressed as a decimal. An Applicants per Spot number of 1.00 indicates that exactly the same number of students have applied as there are available spots. A number of 0.99 or lower indicates that there are fewer students who have applied than there are available spots. Conversely, a number of 1.01 or higher indicates that more students have applied than there are available spots.

Students submit forms of intent to test at certain high schools. Based on this data, high schools submit multiple publications leading up to the entrance exams with updated Applicants per Spot numbers. Students may alter their intent based on these numbers, as it is significantly easier to be accepted into a school with a number of Applicants per Spot that is 1.00 or lower, versus a school which is 1.01 or higher.

The Preliminary Selection Test

The Preliminary Selection Test (前期選抜; zenki sembatsu) is an early-selection test for advanced students who wish to secure their high school enrollment early. While the definition of "advanced student" will differ depending on the high school, generally a recommendation from the junior high school homeroom teacher is required. Other contributing qualifications may include such factors as good grades, good attendance record, strong performance in club activities, membership on the student council, etc.

This test consists of three written portions (Japanese, Math, and English) at 45 minutes each, followed by an interview.

Every high school sets a maximum capacity for each of the courses that it offers. From this maximum capacity, each high school designates a portion of these spots as available for the Preliminary Selection Test. Depending on the number of students who take the Preliminary Test (and who ultimately pass the test) each senior high school may except fewer students than it has spots available, but will not accept more.


This is an example table:

School Course Capacity Spots
available
Applicants Applicants
per Spot
Passed
High School #1 General 150 24 28 1.17 24
High School #2 General 100 21 9 0.43 9
Communications 100 21 31 1.48 21

In the case of High School #1, more students applied for the Preliminary Selection Test than there were spots available. 24 of these 28 students passed the entrance test, which means that for the General Selection Test, High School #1 will have 126 spots available.

In the case of High School #2, they opened 21 spots for each of their two courses as available for the Preliminary Selection Test. Only 9 students applied for the General course, of which they all passed. The remaining 12 unfilled Preliminary Selection Test spots will now be made available to the General Selection Test, for a total of 91 total available spots for the General course.

On the other hand, the Communications course had 10 more applicants than there were spots available. Of the 31 applicants, 21 have passed, and 10 will have to try again in the General Selection Test. Note that these 10 cannot elect to enroll in the General course, as this was not the course which they have tested for. High School #2 will have 79 spots available for the Communications course come the General Selection Test.

The General Selection Test

The General Selection Test (一般選抜; ippan sembatsu) is the main test. A majority of students who take the entrance exams take this exam. Similarly, the majority of students who are ultimately selected for enrollment are selected during this process.

This test consists of three written portions (Japanese, Math, and English) at 60 minutes each, two more written portions (Science and Social Studies) at 50 minutes each, followed by an interview.

The number of spots available for the General Selection Test is determined by subtracting the number of students who passed the Preliminary Selection Test from each course's total Capacity.


Continuing from the example above:

School Course Capacity Spots
available
Applicants Applicants
per Spot
Passed
High School #1 General 150 126 128 1.02 126
High School #2 General 100 91 55 0.60 55
Communications 100 79 76 0.96 75

High School #1 had more applicants than available spots. They have accepted 126 applicants, and, between the Preliminary Selection Test and the General Selection Test, have reached their full capacity of 150. They will accept no more new students this year.

High School #2 on the other hand has not reached capacity in either of its courses. There were only 55 applicants for the General course, of which all were accepted, leaving 36 unfilled spots available for the Secondary Test.

High School #2's Communications course had 76 applicants versus 79 available spots. Presumably some or all of the 10 students who were culled in the Preliminary Selection Test have tried again here in the General Selection Test. Of the 76 applicants, 75 have been accepted, leaving four unfilled spots available for the Secondary Test.

As with the Preliminary Selection Test above, the Applicants per Spot number is of utmost importance when students decide at which school to take the General Selection Test.

The Secondary Application

The Secondary Application (2次募集; niji boshuu) is a second chance for students who didn't pass the general test. While the exact procedure for the Secondary Application varies by school, it generally consists only of an interview, a Japanese written essay, or both. Students' test scores carry over from the General Selection Test.

As with the General Selection test above, the number of spots available to any given course for the Secondary Application is determined by subtracting the total number of students who have passed in both the Preliminary and General Selection Tests from the course's Capacity.


Continuing from the two tables above:

School Course Capacity Spots
available
Applicants Applicants
per Spot
Passed
High School #1 General 150
High School #2 General 100 36 35 0.97 35
Communications 100 4 11 2.75 4

High School #1, having filled all of their available spots in the Preliminary and General Selection Tests, was not accepting any new students during the Secondary Application. This fact is represented by fading their row. They will start the next school year with their full capacity of 150 students.

High School #2 on the other hand had spots available in both of their courses. For the 36 remaining spots in their General course, 35 students applied. Of these 35 students, all were accepted. The total number of accepted applicants across all three tests was 99, one less than its advertised capacity. So this course will have to make do with only 99 students next school year.

High School #2's Communications course was very popular, even into the Secondary Application. 11 students applied for the four remaining available spots. Of these 11, the maximum number of four were accepted. The seven remaining students were rejected, and will unfortunately not attend high school next year. Many students in this position attend cram schools in order to bolster their chances of getting accepted when they apply in the following year's exam process. The Communications course will start the next school year with their full capacity of 100 students.

See also

English Test Materials for
Previous HS Entrance Exams
Year Preliminary Test General Test
2013
2012
2018