Japanese panel is negative about using private English tests for unified college exam

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An expert panel set up by the Ministry of Education on Tuesday described the difficulty of introducing private-sector English tests and open-ended questions for the country’s unified university entrance exam.

In its draft recommendations, the panel called on universities to promote the use of private sector English language tests for their own entrance exams to assess candidates’ reading, writing, listening and speaking skills, as well as open questions.

Once the committee makes its final recommendations, the ministry will release college entrance exam guidelines for fiscal year 2024 as early as this summer.

Regarding the use of private sector English tests for the unified exam, the panel said it was difficult to resolve issues such as high fees and regional gaps in access to examination locations.

The panel rejected a proposal that the National Center for University Entrance Examinations, which is in charge of the unified exam, develop an exam to assess spoken and written English skills. It is difficult to guarantee accurate marking, he said.

Using private sector English tests for university entrance exams is a realistic option, the panel said.

He called on the government, testing agencies, colleges and universities to discuss reducing or waiving exam fees for students from low-income households and expanding exam locations. .

The panel said open-ended questions on the unified exam could create issues in terms of scoring quality and fairness.

National universities should introduce advanced-level open-ended questions in their own admission tests, the panel said, while urging private universities to increase the number of such questions.

The ministry originally planned to introduce private-sector English tests and open-ended questions for Japanese and math subjects in the unified exam, starting in fiscal year 2020. But in 2019, it withdrew the plans. . The panel had since discussed whether to introduce them in fiscal year 2024.

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