The annual unified college entrance examinations began across the nation on Saturday, with nearly 560,000 applicants and a record-high 849 public and private schools taking part.
The two-day exams mark the start of this year’s contest among students seeking entrance to four- and two-year university courses at the April start of the 2015 academic year.
The number of applicants fell by 1,540 from last year to 559,132, including 455,392 high school students graduating in March, the National Center for University Entrance Examinations reported.
Among high school students graduating this March, a record-high 42.5 percent applied for the examinations.
Tests on civics, geography, history, Japanese and foreign languages were held on the first day. Science and math tests will take place Sunday.
The government began organizing unified exams for national and municipal-run colleges in 1979, and upgraded them in 1990 for use also by private colleges.