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A prayer as final entrance exams under current system start

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The National Center Test for University Admissions, a two-day standardized university entrance test, which more than 400,000 applicants have taken annually since its introduction in 1990, is being discontinued after this year.

The final test under the present system starts on Jan. 18.

Around this season, Yushima Tenmangu in Tokyo's Yushima district teems with applicants who write their hopes and prayers for success on votive tablets called "ema" and offer them to the "god of learning" enshrined there.

One ema declared, "I'm going to score 90 percent on the Center Test." Another pleaded, "Please let me do my very best."

But one supplicant wrote a wrong kanji on the ema. Not that it was any of my business, but I did worry a bit about this youngster's academic prowess.


© The Asahi Shimbun