Japanese exam writers have a sense of humour, confound students who studied rather than pursued romance.

High school students in Japan who want to go on to university don’t have an easy time of it. University entrance exams for better-ranked institutions can be horrendously difficult and students are expected to study for weeks, months, or even years in preparation. The exams are not subject-specific but encompass a wide range of knowledge the student is expected to have. Expressions like “four pass, five fail“, suggesting that students who stay in bed for as long as five hours a night will fail while those who sleep less and study more have a chance, are a symptom of the phenomenon.

While most of the pressure students come under might be self-imposed, parents and schools who want their kids to do well may add to the feeling that students have no time to do anything but study. While schools vary enormously, some high schools either forbid or strongly recommend against students getting part-time jobs as it takes away from time they could, or should, be studying. One thing they probably don’t outright ban, though, is dating. Dating might detract from studying, but as one exam-taking student and Twitter user @Ya7river discovered, dating experience might actually help, especially when the exam-writers are just plain mean, as in this question from a 2014 test.

The first question from the actual test asks students to consider whether animals in zoos are happy or not, and answer within 600 characters. While chances are high that none of those taking the exam are in fact zoo animals, it’s a question that most people could answer with a little bit of imagination. But it’s the second question that really throws a spanner in the works for students who haven’t had time or energy for romantic dalliances, or even soap operas: “Imagine that you’ve been dating someone seriously now for two years, and they’re expecting to get married, probably next year. Suddenly, you’ve met someone else who you’ve started to really like. You’ve decided to break up with them. Write a break-up letter in 600 characters or less”. Hard enough even with experiences of the highs and lows of dating, let alone for exam-taking students that have been too busy studying.

Other Twitter users were in agreement, saying the exam writer was either truly evil, knowing full well that many of those taking the test would be lost, or the owner of a particularly wicked sense of humour. Seeing as the test was actually a mock exam for students wanting to enter a faculty of medicine, some posited that it might be to help them work on their bedside manner.

“It is for medical students; maybe its to make them think how’d they tell someone about symptoms or if surgery hasn’t gone well”.
“So if you can dump someone well, you pass?”.
“They ask those sorts of questions at prestigious, hard-to-get-into junior high schools as well”.
“Maybe if I hadn’t been actually studying, I could answer this!”.

Hopefully @Ya7river manages to do well when it comes time to take their exams for real. Given that the original tweet was posted at 4:48 in the morning, they are at least abiding by the four-hours-sleep-for-the-pass idea. Good luck also to anyone else taking exams in the near future – we believe in you! It’s a good thing you’re here reading articles as the tests draw closer and closer, because there’s every chance an encyclopaedic knowledge of limited-edition Kit Kats and the wondrous abilities of breasts will help you deal with whatever crops up in your test paper.

Source: Twitter/@Ya7river via Hachimakiko
Featured image: Pakutaso