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University progression and entrance exams in Japan

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In many countries, admissions to undergraduate degrees is based on standardised qualifications. Students holding a national qualification such as the British Advanced Level (A Level) or the American Advanced Placement (AP), or an international qualification such as the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma, can apply to multiple institutions using the same results.

If you are from one of these countries, each university administering its own entrance examination may be an unfamiliar idea – but this is in fact the norm in Japan. Although public examination results are also taken into consideration, institution-specific examinations hold more weight when it comes to deciding application outcomes. This approach allows universities to set standards and examine candidates according to their own course requirements and educational philosophy. It is likely that different questions are designed for different subject areas. In addition to written examinations, interviews may also be involved.

Affiliated schools

In Japan, it is common for a school to be attached to a higher education institution. Students attending a university’s affiliated high school do not need to worry about the entrance examinations of that particular university. Their place is usually guaranteed through ‘automatic progression’ arrangements, conditional upon satisfactory completion of high school studies. They are still able to apply to other universities.