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Tokyo school OKs smartphone use during entrance exam in Japan 1st

A smartphone is used to scan a QR code printed on a question sheet of Tokyo Joshi Gakuen Junior High School's admission test, on March 11, 2020. (Mainichi)

TOKYO -- In a Japan first, an entrance examination allowing applicants to use their smartphones was introduced as part of the admission test of a private women's junior high school in the capital's Minato Ward.

Tokyo Joshi Gakuen Junior High School hopefuls could choose the type of test they wanted to apply through, including one entitled "Sumaho Mochikomi OK Nyushi" ("Exam that OKs bringing in your smartphone"), which was used to fill 25% of its places this academic year.

This particular exam got underway at the school's library. Tablets were provided so that applicants who did not have their own smartphones could take the test. Examinees were also permitted to use books at the library, but were not allowed to contact anyone from their devices.

The 60-minute exam consisted of three long questions, such as ones asking "How many tapioca drinks are purchased in Tokyo per day?" and "The bean-scattering 'Setsubun' ceremony is on Feb. 3. How many beans will be thrown in Japan at this year's Setsubun?" Test-takers filled their answer sheets based on statistical data and other information they found on the internet using their devices.

There was also a question that required applicants to scan a QR code with their devices, which would then show a photograph. Test-takers provided the name of the location where the image was taken and described how they got the answer, via the internet.

Some applicants reportedly said the unique test style was fun and made them use their brain.

Tokyo Joshi Gakuen Junior and Senior High School has been focusing on education that uses Information and Communication Technology (ICT), such as lending tablets to all its students from the 2017 academic year.

The exam that allowed smartphones was a part of those efforts. It aimed to look into the applicants' ability to seek out and utilize information and create an answer of their own, rather than just checking their amount of knowledge. The educational facility said it plans to introduce the same type of test to its high school entrance exam from the next academic year.

Toshiaki Tachihara, a public relations manager who created the test questions, said, "Artificial intelligence (AI) is rapidly developing, and society is changing so it's not enough to just memorize things. Entrance exams also need a shakeup. Looking ahead to the future, we hope to accept students with distinct characteristics."

(Japanese original by Kohei Chiwaki, City News Department)

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