The growth rate has been especially high among lower-grade students, apparently reflecting parents’ desire for their children to study English since it recently became compulsory for higher grades at primary schools.
According to the foundation, about 2.32 million applicants took the tests in fiscal 2012.
Contents of the Eiken tests, divided into seven grades, are the same for adults and children, the foundation said. Primary school applicants in fiscal 2012 reached about 206,800, an increase of about 90,000 from fiscal 2002.
The foundation released the number of applicants by age for the first time. According to the foundation, the number of 6-year-old applicants was 4,200, 4.6 times the number in fiscal 2002. Compared with fiscal 2002, the number of 5-year-old children was 2,410, a 7.7-fold increase from fiscal 2002, while the number of 7-year-olds was 7,516, a 2.9-fold increase.
The pass rate for primary school applicants for the Eiken Grade 5 test, a benchmark for first-year middle school students, exceeded 80 percent. Their pass rate was higher than that of all applicants. The number of primary school students who passed the Grade Pre-1 topped 300 in fiscal 2012.