Entrance Examinations (II)
In order to enter a national university, you have to take two different kinds of exams. One is "National Center Test for University Admissions," which we usually just call "Center Test." The other is "General Entrance Exam." The total score of the two exams will determine whether you can pass or not.
All the students who want to enter national universities must take the same test on the same day in the middle of January. That is the "Center Test." The subjects are Japanese, English, math, social studies(like world history), and science. All questions are answered by marking small ovals in answer sheets. The full score is 900.
After taking the test, each student estimates his or her own total score. They can do this because they can see all the correct answers on the newspaper the next day. There are several companies that provide students with information about entrance examinations, and they collect data from a lot of examinees about the results of their tests. Then, those companies will give examinees some information about how much score is supposedly needed to pass the later "general entrance exam" done by each university. So if you had wanted to enter Tokyo University but your score was less than, say, 700, then you will have to apply to another easier university instead of Tokyo University.
Necessary score to a university does not change so much from year to year. So students and teachers know how much is needed to apply each university. The companies I mentioned kindly send us "ranking lists," which tell us about necessary scores for all the universities. We tend to think that, the more difficult it is to enter a university, the better academic qualities that university has. So we cannot help rating universities, saying that Tokyo University is better than Kyoto, which is better than Osaka, which is better than Nagoya...and so on.