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Tokyo firm using AI to successfully predict questions on certification exams

Lawyer Masato Kito, managing director of Sight Visit Inc., is seen in this file photo taken in Tokyo's Chiyoda Ward on May 29, 2019. (Mainichi/Yuka Narita)

TOKYO -- A company operating a website on how to prepare for qualification examinations is using artificial intelligence (AI) to successfully predict questions on such tests.

Tokyo-based Sight Visit Inc. correctly picked 57 out of 95 questions -- about 60% -- that went on the multiple choice section of the preliminary test for the state bar examination in May.

One of the questions that the company correctly predicted is a true-or-false one that stated: "When deciding to involve an expert commissioner when preparing to hold oral proceedings to hear explanations based on their expert knowledge, the opinions of the concerned parties must be heard."

Sight Visit deems that it has been successful when its predictions for both questions and their answer options are totally, or almost, correct.

The preliminary test for the state bar exam comprises multiple choice and description-type sections. To pass the preliminary test, applicants are apparently required to correctly answer roughly 60% of questions in its multiple choice section. Therefore, if applicants know answers to questions predicted by the company, they can pass that part of the test.

The firm has AI read the contents of textbooks on the state bar examination as well as legal terms, classify them depending on key words and use questions that were on previous tests over the past eight years to predict questions to go on the next exam as well as their answer options.

The firm provides similar services for certified real estate transaction tests and social insurance labor consultant certification exams to its members. Sight Visit successfully predicted 78% of questions that were on the latest real estate transaction certification exam in October 2018.

Lawyer Masato Kito, managing director of Sight Visit, emphasized that the company predicts questions that will appear in certification examinations to help test-takers "save labor" in preparing for such tests.

"AI tends to be seen as a 'secret trick' in exam preparations, but I'd like people to consider the matter from a broader perspective," Kito said. "There aren't many people who can continue to expand their knowledge because they tend to use up their energy to pass tests. Exams are just a midpoint. They should put more efforts into their studies after taking tests."

Sight Visit is exploring the possibility of predicting questions to go on the standardized university entrance test to be conducted by the National Center for University Entrance Examinations in January 2020.

The Justice Ministry that is responsible for the state bar examination and the Real Estate Transaction Improvement Organization that administers the real estate transaction certification exam declined to comment on Sight Visit's use of AI to predict questions in these tests.

(Japanese original by Yuka Narita and Kenichi Mito, City News Department)

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