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June 10, 2005

Center Shiken Has a Rival

For many years, the National University Entrance Examination (popularly known as the Center Shiken) has been the sole standard for entering all national universities and, increasingly in recent years, many private institutions. But this week, a non-profit organization announced that it will become the new competition. The Tokyo-based NPO, "Kyoiku Seido Kenkyu Forum," will offer a multiple-choice style test for high school seniors called the "Zenkoku Touitsu Gakuryoku Hantei Shiken" (National Unified Test of Academic Ability." It will cover five subjects: English, Japanese Mathematics, Science and Social Studies. According to the NPO, six universities and junior colleges in the Kanto region have already formally agreed to use the test and 30 to 50 schools are considering joining within the current academic year. As a result, some 50 high schools will start using the test.

With the declining birthrate, universities are increasingly having to compete for the best students and, with this in mind, the new test will be held in October, several months earlier than the Center Shiken, which is held in January. Currently about 570,000 students sit the Center Shiken each year, while the new test will have about 10,000 this year and aims for 100,000. This year's test will be held at 28 centers nationwide on October 9. The cost this year is ¥5,000 for three or more subjects, though this will increase from next year to somewhere closer to that of the Center Shiken, which was increased this year to ¥18,000.
Kyoiku Seido Kenkyu Forum web site (Japanese)
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