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Current common university English exam format to stay through FY23

Jiji Press TOKYO (Jiji Press) — The education ministry on Monday won expert panel approval for its final draft plans to continue the current unified English examination for university entrance until fiscal 2023.

Japan will carry out major reforms of its unified university entrance examination system in fiscal 2020. For English, the draft calls for giving universities the option of continuing to use the current format until fiscal 2023, in addition to the option of shifting to a new format immediately.

The planned format will utilize English tests administered by private-sector organizations that evaluate examinees’ reading, writing, listening and speaking skills.

The current format is a multiple-choice test by the government-affiliated National Center for University Entrance Examinations that assesses examinees’ reading and listening skills.

The ministry will adopt the unified examination reform plans as early as this week.

The final draft included the idea of giving the two options on English that the ministry floated in May.

This reflected concern and opposition mainly among teachers of high schools and universities over an immediate shift to private-sector examinations.

During the four-year transition period, universities will be allowed to choose either or both of the current and new formats.

Under the draft, the government-affiliated center will certify private-sector English tests that meet its standards and requirements, from among candidates such as the Test in Practical English Proficiency, known as Eiken, and the Test of English for International Communication, or TOEIC.

Private-sector organizations for the certified examinations will be asked to take measures to ease the test fee burden of those taking tests as part of the unified entrance examinations.

The ministry plans to ask universities to use as many certified private-sector examinations as possible to increase options for examinees.

Universities will also be requested to boost efforts to evaluate examinees’ four English skills comprehensively by using private-sector tests and their own examinations.

The new unified examination system will also introduce open questions for the Japanese language and math tests, in addition to multiple-choice questions.Speech

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