More public universities are expected to search beyond students’ test-taking skills as they select their freshmen for next spring, the Education Ministry said Wednesday.

A total of 55 faculties from 37 public universities will conduct interviews with applicants next spring, up from the current 37 from 29 this year, according to the ministry’s University Section. Nine more universities even decided not to give written exams, as 56 faculties from 120 universities plan to admit next year’s applicants based on students’ achievements in essays and interviews.

Most students nevertheless will still have to take standardized preliminary exams, results of which will be used in the screening process by 95 national universities and 60 other public universities. But Iwate Prefectural University’s Software Information Faculty decided not to use the standardized exam, claiming that they will select students in their own way. The new trend is in line with last year’s recommendations by the Central Council for Education that the university admissions process be relaxed and varied.

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