My son has just merged from dust of “juken senso” (exam war), having clinched places at his high schools of first and second choice, and while there are still a few examinations ongoing this week and the next, I thought to say a few words about the school interviews.

There are indications that Japanese educators have been responding to the criticisms about Japanese students lacking originality or creativity … see High school exams including more questions calling for original expression and thought...  and Kids learn there’s more than one write way.  Additionally, the top ranking universities are beginning to follow Keio U.’s lead in ditching the National Center Exams altogether in favour of accepting applicants based only on their own set entrance exams (ostensibly because they are seeking a different kind of criteria for assessing exam candidates)

 Realistic Style-Co Workers Having a Meeting

Regarding school interviews, my son was told by his cramschool teacher that schools are not concerned with the veracity or contents of the interviewee’s answers, but are more interested to observe how the applicants are able to express themselves, how smoothly and the degree of detailed or logic with which, and if candidates are able to think on their feet, i.e. they were judged on the originality of their answers and self-expression (how they characterized themselves and their families etc).

From my son’s juku (cramschool) comes a list of categories of the kind of questions that high schools tend to ask at school interviews (see immediately below).

INTERVIEW QUESTIONS OF HIGH SCHOOLS:

Warm-up questions about yourself:

*Your juken no., name

*Which school do you come from?

Tell us your birthdate / year / your address / where you stay.

*How do you come to the school, your school transportation route, which train line…?

How is your family like? (I live with my parents, younger sister, etc…)

The name of your parents and siblings.

*What is the state of your of health? [we have judo classes, kendo, etc., pls mention any medical problems you may have]

Questions proper:

*Tell me about a book that you’ve read recently, and tell me your thoughts on the book.

How do you spend your freetime?

What are you interested in? (Carpentry, etc.) What are your hobbies?

Questions about your personality:

Tell me about your strengths and weaknesses.

What kind of scoldings do you get from your parents?

About your friends:

Who do you admire and why? (According to the juku, students often choose to talk of their parents since they feel more confident due to their familiarity with the subject)

Which other schools are you applying for?

Which school would you choose if you were accepted by all your choices?

*What kind of high school life would you like?

Your parents’ occupation / job

What is your opinion of your parents?

What do you talk or converse about over dinner with your family?

What are your chores?

What is the name of your school, address of your school.

What is the name of your homeroom teacher, vice principal and principal?

Tell me about your school

What are your school responsibilities/duties (kakarikatsudou,

e.g. hanchou: group leader kankyou, shuuhaii, keiijii,), school appointments(iinkai, eg housou, gakyuu inkaii class leader)?

What do you with each of these duties/jobs? And tell me what is hard about these duties/jobs.

Your memories of Shizenkyoushitsu (Nature Fieldtrip) and Shuugakuryokou (school excursion)

Your memories of your three years of high school (eg sports day, gasho concours – singing competition)

*What subjects are you good at, what are your weak subjects, and why?

How do you think you did in today’s tests?

What news are you interested in, and why?
What newspapers do you read at home?
Which juku do you attend?
* The asterisked ones were the ones my son were asked. In addition, he was asked to write an essay about any book he had read recently.
***

In addition, below are more advice and ideas given by parents from our EIJ (Education in Japan) discussion forum (courtesy of Michelle in Okinawa) on preparing for private school interviews:

“Our crib sheet emphasized form over content. It seemed very important to bow perfectly at the correct moments, to wait by the left side of the chair to be invited to sit before sitting, to say “shiturei shimasu” and “shiturei shimashita” at all the right moments, make eye contact, speak out loudly and clearly, use perfect keigo etc..Seemed the worst thing you could do was try to answer for your kid.

Our son was asked about 5 questions.

For parents they [questions asked] were all on the theme of how the school’s educational philosophy aligned with the parent’s. The interviewers asked me what my philosophy of discipline/child rearing is in regards to study. They asked my husband what he knows about the school’s educational philosophy and what his opinion is about it.”

Our crib sheet emphasized form over content. It seemed very important to bow perfectly at the correct moments, to wait by the left side of the chair to be invited to sit before sitting, to say “shiturei shimasu” and “shiturei shimashita” at all the right moments, make eye contact, speak out loudly and clearly, use perfect keigo etc..Seemed the worst thing you could do was try to answer for your kid.

We had both kid and parent mock questions.

Some for kids were:
(warmup)

1. state your name, class and school of origin. What clubs/activities have you participated in at your school?
2. Why do you want to attend this school?
3. What are your personal strengths and weaknesses?
4. What are your best and weakest school subjects?
5. What school subjects are your most and least favorite and why?
6. What club are you hoping to join and why?
7. What value do you think you can bring to this school?
8. How would you describe your personality type?
9. Is there anything you know or have learned about this school that you don’t like. For example all students at our school have to participate in X How do you feel about that?
10 Tell me some things you know about this school.
11. Who chose this school, you or your parents?
12. Our school starts at X a.m. Will it be a problem for you to come to school on time every day?
13. What do you want to be when you grow up?
14. What University do you want to go to?
15. Did you find the exam you just took difficult? What did you find easy and difficult about the exam you just took?
16. Have you ever visited this school before today? What did you think of it?

Posted by Aileen Kawagoe and Michelle in Okinawa from the EIJ forum

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