Published : 2013-01-17 19:48
Updated : 2013-01-17 19:48
Officials of the unified college entrance exams and universities that use the test for screening students must not allow a repeat of last year’s confusion. They should double-check whether their preparations are foolproof.
About 570,000 applicants will take the test to be held Saturday and Sunday. A record 840 universities and junior colleges ― national, prefectural, municipal and private ― will use the test as part of their screening process.
We urge the National Center for University Entrance Examinations and the universities to stay vigilant to ensure the test goes off without a hitch.
Last year, about 7,000 students were affected by mistakes during the test, such as errors in distributing test books for geography and history, and civics, which were mainly caused by a change in the test system. The test start time was delayed at a venue in Miyagi Prefecture ― one of the prefectures hit hardest by the Great East Japan Earthquake ― after devices for a listening test failed to arrive on time.
The national center has reviewed the process of distributing test books this year. Universities that provide venues for the test also have taken steps to prevent mistakes from happening, such as holding more briefing sessions for test supervisors and conducting rehearsals.
However, it is still too early for them to let their guard down. After reading a report by an Education, Culture, Sports and Science and Technology Ministry panel tasked with pinpointing why the errors occurred, universities that provided venues for last year’s exams can only be described as lacking a sense of awareness as one of the parties involved.
According to the report, about 30 percent of the universities that bungled the distribution of test books failed to properly instruct test supervisors who did not attend briefing sessions, and instead only provided them with written documents in advance. In one case, a supervisor reportedly noticed a mistake when reading a supervising manual after the exams had started.
It is astonishing that some universities failed to understand the basic fact that the exams are managed jointly by the National Center for University Entrance Examinations and universities that use the exams.
The current exam format was introduced in 1990, remodeling a similar test called the Joint First-Stage Achievement Test. Universities that use the exams have increased each year. It has become a national barometer for assessing the level of scholastic achievements of high school students. The fact it has become widely accepted deserves praise.
This year, more than 100 public universities will use the exams to complement their admission screening based on recommendations from high schools, or interview- and essay-based tests known as “admission office exams,” a system that puts more focus on assessing a student’s personality.
Japanese students’ worsening academic ability has become a serious problem. We believe there is a growing tendency among universities to use the unified exams to accurately gauge whether students have basic academic skills.
The main role for universities in the test is to provide venues where it can be taken. Because this burden is light, some private universities use the unified entrance exams as a tool to acquire applicants at low cost.
Under the current system, universities can freely choose which and how many exam subjects they use. This enables universities and colleges to tailor a wide variety of admission systems. However, at the same time, some students have been baffled by the complexity of the system.
Critics have long pointed out that the unified exams have become too big to be conducted all at once. It is important to bring problems with the test to light from various perspectives so it can be improved.