KOBE (Kyodo) Forty young ladies on Tuesday passed the final entrance exam of the prestigious Takarazuka Music School in Takarazuka, Hyogo Prefecture, with successful candidates rejoicing as they found their exam number on the notice board.

One in 26 applicants passed the highly competitive test.

When the billboard was unveiled at 10 a.m., many of the 15- to 18-year-olds shouted out in joy.

The two-year school, whose predecessor was established in 1913, trains performers for the Takarazuka Revue, the renowned female-only musical company based in Takarazuka.

Many graduates later go on to become star singers and actresses.

"Once I almost gave up, but I tried hard, believing that's the only thing I can devote myself to," said Miho Kurata, 16, who passed the exam on her second try. She is from Suzuka of Mie Prefecture.

"I want to be a top star who will go down in history," said a tearful Erika Hayashi, 17, from Omihachiman, Shiga Prefecture.

The school changed the style of its examination tests this year, abolishing singing and dancing in the first stage.

The change was aimed at putting more focus on future potential and the individuality of applicants, instead of their current skills, the school said.

The entrance ceremony will be held April 17.