Before the Central Council for Education undertakes the formidable task of revising Japan’s university entrance exam, it needs a refresher course in assessment. That’s because standardized tests are poorly understood.

To begin with, there is a fundamental difference between an aptitude test and an achievement test. Although scores sometimes correlate, the former is designed to predict how well a test-taker is likely to perform in a future setting. In contrast, the latter is designed to measure the knowledge and skills a test-taker possesses in a given subject.

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