In the Feb. 3 opinion article “Exam forces students to cram irrelevant facts,” was the writer, professor Julian Dierkes of Canada, looking at the same national university exam that I took?
The Japanese portion involved two long reading comprehension sections in addition to some recognition of kanji characters. The English portion, too, included four long reading comprehension selections, which accounted for most of the score.
The math section involved writing out a long problem before selecting the correct answers. Same for the biology section. The geography exam involved questions requiring memorization, but it also included long problems that required the test-taker to apply comprehensive knowledge of geographic features to select the right answers. That’s just off the top of my head.
There are always problems with tests requiring only multiple-choice answers for ease of scoring, and there are problems with the exclusive use of test scores to judge student ability, though this is less and less the case in Japan. All in all, the “center exam” is a much more comprehensive test of a student’s basic knowledge and analytical ability than, say, the American SAT exam is.
The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.
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