Test hell


What goes into Japanese high school entrance exams (Teachers perspective)

This time of the year is filled wit nothing but screaming teachers, crying students and yelling parents. What a wonderful time of year it is… testing season here in Japan, more specifically high school entrance exam season. So why all the drama you may ask, the reason  is that high school entrance exams are considered to have the same level of influence on a students life as US college entrance exams.

The reason, Japanese mandatory education ends at junior high school. Therefore students either end up at a high school, which can follow them their whole lives or in the workforce. In my 8 years in Japan I have had 4 out of an estimated 5,000 students enter the workforce right out of junior high school. They are then locked into their positions until they can work up the work ladder into management. That is why there is so much pressure on the students, the teachers and the parents to help the students.

So I will tell the story of a student who missed the exam and the fallout. This morning, students had to make their way to their perspective testing sites by themselves. There, students had to call the school to let them know they arrived. Following the test students had to call the school.

One student did not make it to the test site, and didn’t call the school, but out of 300 students the teachers missed this. The student spent all day wandering around and did not call the school once. Finally at the end of the day he went back home in tears. So, what is the repercussion?

The parents were angry at the school for not being there for the student. The school was angry at the student for not calling. The student was angry and upset because he can’t enter the high school he wanted because the test is finished so he will have to pick another high school and this will drastically alter the rest of his life.

All in all, living in another culture can be hard. Living in japan during this time of the year is hard for me because I still see the students as kids, not adults. But as always I would love to know the experiences that you have had and what you think of this education system and the stress put on the kids.

[As always, I have to reiterate that I am not an expert on anything I talk about and i am sure I have missed some important information about the responsibilities in Japanese schooling and the examination process. Please use these blogs as a jumping off point for your own research and share what you have learned with me here.]


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