A True Story about Entrance Exam Hell
Alright for many of you, you might not know what the entrance exams are, so here is a quick breakdown. The entrance exam is a no bullshit brutal test in Japan which is absolutely necessary in order to get into university. There are entrance exams in Japan for determining which middle school, high school, college, master's program, doctorate program, and even one's company to work at. From my understanding the university entrance exam's are the most difficult. In order for me to become a full time graduate student in Japan, it was necessary for me to pass the exam and so I present to you, my experience of entrance exam hell.
The test has eight questions, test takers have three hours to select and answer four of them and you must have two answers 100% correct and partial credit on one of the other two selected. Overall 60% or greater is necessary to pass. ・0 percent?! That's it? That doesn't sound hard.・Hah! That's the dumb shit that everyone thought until we got our study materials.
Remember I said it was a no bullshit exam, one person wrote the answer was 6 rather than 6 cm and he failed the test, when I say no bullshit about the entrance exam I mean NO Bullshit! So to show you hard it is I am going to give you all of the study material there is right now.
Matrices, Differential Equations, Statistics, Linear Programming, Probabilities, Algorithms, Electric Circuits, Logic
That's it, that's everything. 展hat the hell is this? It's just the name of eight topics.・Yea, no shit! That's why its so god damn hard! You get this list and the questions can be anything from any of those topics, and I mean ANYTHING! Some people thought, 徹h this won't be so bad, we can just look at the previous tests, they'll be the same questions.・Yeah what a great idea, I wish I would have thought of that, except for the fact that after looking over test questions for the past 10 years of entrance exams (literally 10 years, clear back to 96), we could find no trend, order, or substantial similarity between any of the 20 exams we had available to us.
To help illustrate the diversity of the exam questions here are two questions from the statistics section from two different years.
So right about now if you know me, you're probably thinking, 展hat in the fuck!? Matt I've met you before, you're not exactly that bright...how in the hell did you pass?・/p>
Ladies and Gentlemen I welcome you to Entrance Exam Hell. First I offer a little background to the situation to help properly express how hellish a place this is. In August of '06 I had just failed my first attempt of the exam. I was down but not out. There was another entrance exam to be held in December and I was signed up to take it. The idea that you get to take the exam as many time as necessary also doesn't exactly (and didn't for me) hold true. For me I wouldn't be able to take it any more times after December, meaning this was my last chance. You see in March of '07 just after the exam, my visa would run out and I would have to return to the U.S. To make matters worse I was working a job that had no future for me so my girlfriends parents were a little resilient to accept our dating considering I would never be able to provide a decent future for their daughter, and I may be getting kicked out of the country as my visa expired.
So if I failed the exam my girlfriend's family would likely never accept me, I'd more or less be deported and I'd have to return home a failure. Which in turn would likely result in me never seeing my girlfriend, now my wife, ever again. Fuck it would have been awful. It still makes me cringe just thinking about it.
Alright, so what the did I do right? Here's what I did, everyday, and I mean everyday (weekends too), I studied, non-stop I studied. At that time I lived in Matsunaga with my girlfriend (see where I live) this was before I had my dorm room in Saijo, afterall I wasn't a student yet, the entrance exam would decide that.
So every morning I woke up at 5:30 am, rode my bike to the station (15 minutes), took the 2nd train of the day out to Saijo (1 hour), got on a shitty bike at Saijo station and rode that hunk of shit for 30 minutes to get to the university. Once at school I studied all day, literally, non-stop. I met a tutor (shinomura-kun) for 3-4 hours each day. I studied while eating breakfast, lunch and dinner. At 10:00pm I rode that same shitty bike for 30 minutes back to the station to catch the last train at 10:30pm to go home. I would arrive home at roughly midnight and sleep. Dammit did I ever hate that fucking shitty bike! Anyway a short five and a half hours later I would wake up and do it all again. Tuesday's I didn't go to school, on Tuesday's I rode my bike 25 kilometers into the mountains (rain or snow) to work. When I wasn't working at work I studied. It took about an hour to ride to work and it was over a 5 kilometer mountain, if I wasn't a cyclist I could have never made it. That was my life for six months, from August through January always knowing that failure was not an option.
That ladies and gentlemen is entrance exam hell. Even two years later if I think of my life for those six months I still feel exhausted, but then I remember that I passed. Damn am I glad I passed! To the man who said, "A reward is only as great as the challenge before it." I say that's god damn right because even two years later I still feel the reward of having survived entrance exam hell.