Why Do Japanese Junior High School Students Go to Juku for High School Exams?


Why Do Japanese Junior High School Students Go to Juku (塾, じゅく) for High School Exams?

That’s because they would like to get into the best possible high school. This leads them into the best possible university. It will also result in letting them find the best possible employer. There are some arguments whether this whole idea is good for the students or not, also right or not. It is however widely known in Japan.



©VisualArt’s/Key/Charlotte Project

Like this image from “Charlotte” shows the scene that a junior high school student is about to take a high school admission exam. Since a long time ago, parents wish their children “Enter a good high school, enter a good university, and work for a good company”. Time has been changed, but their rules on thumb aren’t all wrong. Some research data even show that there is a correlation between a graduated university and an annual income. The following results is by the research on the average annual income ranking based on a graduated university (*1). Around 10 thousand university graduates has participated on this research. It found that graduates from the best university earn 7.29 million yen on average, compared to 4.32 million yen for the 100th university graduates. The results are similar, even the difficulties of admission exams vary from year to year, also depend on the faculties.

Therefore, parents are willing to pay for Juku (塾、じゅく) in addition to the school fees. Based on the findings, raising 10 ranks in university ranking would increase the average 0.3 million yen in annual incomes. It could cost 0.2 to 0.25 million yen for high school admission exam preparation Juku, and 0.25 to 0.3 million yen for that of university. Considered from this calculation, it seems that Japanese parents understand sensuously the effects of the investments towards Juku. I have also been to Juku for 2 years when I was at the 3rd grade at a junior high school and high school. I still remember that my results on nation-wide exams improved greatly. At Juku, the way teacher lectures is that to specialize in admission exams, which is not done at schools.

Let’s keep in mind that there are elementary school (6 years), junior high school (3 years) as compulsory in Japan, followed by high school for 3 years and university for 4 years (there are 4-year university and 2-year junior university in Japan, but what we call “university” is known as 4-year university in Japan). Therefore, the 3rd grade student at a junior high school prepares for a high school (public or private) admission exam. As well as this, the 3rd grade student at a high school prepares for a university (public or private) admission exam. Furthermore, there are some 6th grade elementary school students preparing for junior high schools (private). And even kindergarteners taking exams for elementary schools (private).

The following shows the ratio of the children going to Juku by types of schools in 2017 (*2)

School Type Percent
Kindergarten (public) 10.9 %
Kindergarten (private) 12.9 %
Elementary school (Public) 35.7 %
Elementary school (Private) 67.0 %
Junior high school (Public) 70.1 %
Junior high school (Private) 53.7 %
High school (Public) 35.1 %
High school (Private) 33.4 %


You may surprise that some kindergartners go to Juku as well as elementary school. However if it is believed that your life is determined depending on which high school or university to be graduated, it is no wonder that some parents are willing to let their kindergarteners go to Juku. In the following image from “Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha”, an elementary student Nanoha is studying at her Juku. You may now understand that it is common that a private elementary student goes to Juku from the findings.

Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha,Juku



From my point of view, parents with higher incomes tend to let their children start going to Juku younger. They acknowledge how their assets should be inherited and how they will be inherited in future. This is not only for Japanese, so how about in your country and how do you think?

A research “Annual income ranking by graduated universities (160 Japanese and overseas universities )” conducted by total human resource company, PERSOL CAREER CO., LTD.

Article from the education expenses section on All About, operated by All About, Inc.



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