There are concerns about the influence of the novel coronavirus epidemic on university entrance examinations. It is necessary to devise an examination schedule and screening methods to dispel the anxiety of students.
Urgent measures need to be taken for the Comprehensive Entrance Examinations (formerly, AO [admissions office] entrance examinations), which evaluates students from various perspectives such as documents and interviews, and the School Recommendation-Based Entrance Examinations, which evaluates students on their activities and other factors over the three years of high school.
In recent years, students who passed these types of exams accounted for nearly half of all enrollment. The selection period of those systems is set early, as the comprehensive selection system accepts applications from September and the recommendation system from November.
Most high schools are unavailable to give classes due to school closures in response to the declaration of a state of emergency. Overseas study programs and private sector English tests have also been canceled or postponed. Even if classes are resumed sometime in the future, it will be difficult to adequately evaluate the performance and activities of third-year students.
Students who seek recommendations based on sports are no exception. Many universities require applicants to present a record of participation in national tournaments as a condition for application, but sports tournaments for club activities have been canceled or postponed across the board, removing an opportunity for third-year students to present their performance.
The Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry issued a notice urging such application methods as having students write essays and reports or submit videos of them performing to universities.
Careful screening is essential, such as steady evaluation of the students’ academic results up to their second year in high school as well as their achievements in activities.
General entrance examinations will inevitably be affected. Under ordinary circumstances, the Common Test for University Admissions is held in January and each university then holds separate entrance exams between February and March.
Because of the delay in the start of classes this academic year, some third-year students may be forced to take an entrance examination without finishing the curriculum.
If the admissions schedule is not changed, it is possible to put more weight on the results of screening for individual admissions rather than that of the common test, which is held at an earlier time. Some high schools are requesting test creators to narrow the scope of questions.
A second or third possible outbreak can occur between January and March next year. It is important for each university to be ready to flexibly make arrangements, such as by giving makeup examinations, depending on the situation of the infection.
If universities delay their entrance exam schedule, they need to secure a test site and staff to mark the exam papers.
If the schedule is not set, it is difficult for students to set goals and prepare. The education ministry is urged to show as soon as possible an overall direction of the university entrance examination schedule.
The government is currently discussing whether to introduce September matriculation. If this system is implemented, it will have a major impact on the timing of university entrance examinations. Careful study of this matter is necessary.
— This article appeared in the print version of The Yomiuri Shimbun on May 27, 2020.