It's entrance exam season in Japan. Last weekend (January 13-14) students hoping to enter one of the country's public or private (the more prestigious variety) institutions of higher learning sat the National Center Test for University Admissions, known colloquially as the center shiken or center nyushi.
But let us consider for the nonce the high school analogue (held in March) to the center test, the koko nyushi, or high school entrance exam. (In this and following posts I shall refer to the situation as it exists for public schools in Niigata prefecture.)
First, a couple of key terms (applicable nationwide):
1) hensachi (偏差値): the figure that corresponds to the percentage of correct answers on the entrance exam needed to gain admission to a particular public high school; the range in Niigata is from 35 to 75, roughly, with selective high schools (and academic programs within schools) at the top of the scale
Niigata High School, the public high school in the prefecture with the highest admissions standards, has a hensachi of 73 for its Science and Math Course and 71 for its General Academic Course; the two are ranked 1 and 2, respectively, out of 142 schools and programs in the prefecture
Matsudai High School: at the other end of the scale with a hensachi of 35
2) bairitsu (倍率): the (over-) subscription rate; the more popular schools and programs have the highest bairitsu; currently, Bandai High School's English/ Science-Math Course has a bairitsu of 2.4 (In other words, there are 2.4 times as many applicants as there are available slots for this popular program, so there will be many unhappy students and parents when exam results are announced.)
At the bottom of the ladder is Shiozawa Commercial and Technical High School with a bairitsu of 0.4.
... more to come