Update 1.015

Advices for Japanese students that go to an International School (東大を目指すインターナショナルスクール生・帰国生へのアドバイス)

So I was going to write a blog post more thoroughly on education, but I realized I have more important things that I should talk about right now because today is a national holiday in Japan so since I can’t get any of my tasks done, this would probably be the only timing that I can write another blog post as I am getting more and more busy everyday. I wanted to mention some advice for Japanese students that go to an international school, who are planning on doing the same thing as me because I know that if I don’t write about this now, I am likely to soon forget about my own experience. I know I have grammatical errors and that its annoying that i have been making them very frequently, I just don’t have the time to brush up my sentences like I would do with my internal assessments.

So as I mentioned previously, I went to an International school but I also studied in the Japanese system. I’m sure that I’m not the only one who has done this- at least, I know about 3 people from my school who have took the Japanese university entrance exams. I know that 1 person got into Waseda University through the normal Japanese entrance exams. However, I do not know anyone who has actually tried out for the University of Tokyo, and Todai is pretty different/special from other universities so I would like to give some advice to students who want to try out for Todai. And also, I know that a lot of students that don’t even aim to undergo the Japanese entrance exams, they still go to Japanese cram schools so I would like to mention some things about cram schools, since I had people from younger grades ask me about it.

If you are one of those international school students trying out for the Japanese university exams, first of all, I REALLY ADMIRE YOU. Good job for even thinking about taking them. I know that Japanese entrance exams are extremely challenging, compared to the content of education we receive at our schools. For example, maths-especially calculus- is WAY different and incomparable to what we learn at school. So yeah, be proud of yourself for even challenging 🙂 Most people would just look out for the 推薦入試, which is way easier. However, I am sure there is a reason why you chose to take the harder, irregular path. For me as an example, was because I wanted to major in physics, and I wanted to become a researcher in the future, but in Japan, it is absolutely hopeless to become a researcher in physics if you attended a private university. (Some universities like 東京理科大 have undergrad departments that are feeder schools into 東大の大学院 but for my major, 物理学科 is even hard for students at Todai to get in, 進振りの底点が高い so the best way to go to Todai at graduate level was to attend Todai from undergrad level.) The best physics course offered in Japan was at Todai, and in my age back then, they did not yet have the 推薦入試(it just started from my year, meaning, I wouldn’t be prepared), so 一般入試 was the only way for me to get in.

As I said, the exams that I took were 現役時で前期理2・後期なし, 一浪時で前期理1・後期旧帝。So keep in mind about that as I start explaining about cram schools and the ways that I studied. Oh and also, why Todai is special from other universities? It’s because it’s a university in Japan, along with Kyoto university, which requires you to take the most number of subjects for the exams. Todai (all departments) and Kyodai (some departments only) requires you to take 5 subjects.  Crazy amounts of studying, compared to 3-4 subjects only required at top private universities like Waseda and Keio, and even for Keio, some departments like Keio SFC requires only 1 (English, and 小論文 so basically only English), and from what I remember 慶経 was only 2 (English, Math, 小論文). A really competitive place but one you could take with only 1 exam is 阪大の挑戦枠, but that one would really be hard I think because from what I remember, it requires something like 4 hour long exam of mathematics?? Even for the lower tier universities like MARCH- the English Department of Aogaku (英米文学科B方式), or ICU requires only 1 subject-English. Correct me if any of this is wrong.

Anyways. I’m starting off with how you should plan out your education. I know, you might think why am I giving advice to people when I actually failed? It’s because I think there are some things that people can still learn from my experience even though it didn’t work out for me. And also, I am talking in the perspective of a science person- I can’t really talk for 文系志望 but I think there are some parts that we would still overlap so keep in mind.

I think the best way of planning out your education is to completely rely on a third-person, meaning cram schools, tutor, etc. Here is a list of cram schools that I went to in my 2 years just for an example:

現役時 通期:東進東大特進、河合塾
講習のみ:MEPLO(河合塾よりも家から物理的に近いから)、駿台、大数ゼミ、Z会(通信)
一浪時 通期:駿台お茶の水3号館スーパー東大理系コース、Z会東大即応演習

If you really wanted to get into Todai, there are certain cram schools that are strong in letting their students get into Todai, so here I would like to introduce you to those. Though, it definitely does not increase or decrease your chance of getting into Todai, depending on which cram school you go to. Eventually, it is up to you, whether you can make it into Todai.

現役生向け:東大特進、鉄緑会、etc

浪人生向け:駿台お茶の水3号館(特に演習コース)、河合塾本郷校ハイパー東大. Also, I’ve heard 代ゼミ gives you like a full on scholarship but I’m not really familiar with them.

What is hard with us is that we have to check the internet because for a lot of Japanese feeder schools to Todai(俗にいう進学校), the students there already have access to these kinds of information as where we don’t. I especially thought that 特進was really good (although I didn’t take most of their classes lol) because I got like a scholarship. They have this thing called 特待制度 and basically it was something like if you had 偏差値70以上 for every subject, you are eligible for it and you get to receive free classes except you had to pay for the text books, which were extremely expensive. But I still went to toshin for 自習室利用 lol. なんかで林修の授業受けたような気もするけど忘れたww. I took physics at 河合塾 from this teacher called 苑田先生 and his classes were really amazing but I found it challenging to keep up with because his physics were all in calculus and I had never learned physics in calculus before but once you get used to it, you realize how great the classes he gives are. Although to get into this class, you also had to have over 偏差値70 for every subject. Basically if you want to get into Todai courses at most of the cram school, you had to have over 偏差値70 for every single subject. I mean if you don’t, then I think you should rethink about even taking the exam for Todai, I’m not discouraging anyone, but that’s sort of like a prerequisite if you really want to go there. I think whatever course you take, you can get a decent education if its at 駿台 or 河合塾(these are known as 2大予備校). Also, just a heads up that with these cram schools, if you can, you should try to go to the campuses that are close to Todai, in which case it will be お茶の水 or 本郷 because the schools tend to bring the best teachers to those campuses. Like for me, I spent 3 hours everyday to go to お茶の水校 even though it would have only took me 1 hour everyday to get to 他の校舎.

But anyways, it really is up to you. Secondly, I would like to introduce you to textbooks that i used, which a lot of people study with as well, since this is also another type of information that we find it hard to collect.

数学 ・1対1対応の演習

・新数学演習

・解法の突破口

・月刊大数

・東大理系数学で1点でも多く取る方法

国語 ・漢文早覚え速答法

・古文ステップアップノート

・センター国語の過去問(15年分)

物理 ・難系

・東大の25カ年、東工大の15カ年(両方やった)

化学 ・エクセル化学

・重要問題集

・新演習

・京大の25カ年

英語 Yes, I know this shouldn’t be a problem to a lot of you but it isn’t that you can get a good score on the exam, just because you can do English very well.

A lot of people who have trouble with the Todai English exam is specifically, the 1A, 2, 4B. 英作はなるべく減点されない様に難しい構文を使わないこと。1Aはとにかくトピックセンテンスから大体の主旨がつかめたらそれを具体例と共にまとめて、あとは時間勝負。4Bはこれやった:構文把握のプラチカ、英文和訳演習。特にプラチカは本当に優れた参考書だった、英文和訳はやる意味があったかと言われればちょっと分からない。インター生で4Bで点数が取れない人は大体、国語力がないからであって、単語単位での和訳があってる事ももちろん大事だけど、それ以前に日本語の構文が正しいかを確認した方が良い。

I think if you really had questions about what books you should get in order to get your self more prepared, the best way is to directly ask your teachers at cram school. They are experts, and they will recommend you with good books, and will also teach you how to study. A lot of the times, I would find that the teachers at my cram school were actually the authors of popular books so it was good that if you had any problems with the books they wrote, it was easier to just ask them for assistance.

Also, one thing to note, if you are at a cram school, NEVER HESITATE to pop into the 講師室 and ask them for assistance. The teachers at cram school usually tend to be really supportive with the students, and they will remember the face of the students, so if you had any trouble catching up with their classes, you should always go ask them for help, and if there are times like when you are absent from class, the teachers will worry about you, and try to give as much assistance as possible.

Next, I would like to talk about the life of an average student at a cram school. One thing to be careful is to always be on top of everything. The big risk about attending a 予備校 is that because 予備校 is different from 塾 in terms of class sizes (the one i went to had 150 students per class), it is impossible for your homeroom tutor to care about each student. So being on top of everything is actually a really difficult task. It is always easy to slack off, and every year, there are students that go missing because those students have lost their willingness to study.

Lastly, 冠模試について. You should always take those. Don’t be absent from it just because you don’t feel like it, that’s what I did for the summer. Every year, there is a 大学別模試 and I think those are really really close to the real exam so it is mandatory to take it. The most popular ones that you should take are 東大実戦と東大即応オープン。本番レベルは東進生だから受けた事あるけど、2日の試験を1日でやるので(第1回と第2回は)すごく疲れるし、椅子に座ってるからすごくお尻が痛くなる(笑)。それに、数学のレベルが全然本番じゃないから I think you should just take it as a practice but don’t take it too seriously.

One last thing, I wanted to talk about the English examinations especially for Todai. Just because you were/are an international student doesn’t mean you will get high scores on the English exam. Like I got 英検準1級 while i was 小学校6年生 or something, I also got a TOEFL score of 102 when I first took it in 高1?多分 but the first mock that I ever took was horrible lol. 高3の東進の東大本番レベル模試で65か何かだったと思うw 失点の原因は殆ど1A, 2, 4B, 特に4Bが壊滅的で20点中3点とかそんな感じだったw However, I improved a lot by practicing with the past papers. 見ての通りな感じ。The key is, 東大は情報処理能力が問われてるから、問題に深入りしないこと。通しで解く練習すればすぐに点がとれるようになる。時間配分は、番号順に解いて、しかも各小問を7分くらいで解いていけば40分くらい余るになる。英作文は内容を創作していいから、とにかく減点されない様に書くこと。リスニングは下読みしなくても満点は余裕だから、その気持ちで。あと、1Bと4Aは私はいつも最後にまわしてた。なんて、偉そうに語れるような点数ではないけど(笑)

開示:

あと、処理速度は紫本等で模試過去問を解きまくることで速くなりました。

I think the biggest hurdle for an international school student is the センター試験 rather than 東大二次。 特にセンター国語とセンター地理。Although, the other subjects aren’t much of a problem. I think that a tiny tiny benefit that we or most of us have though, is 数1Aのデータの分析と数2Bの確率分布 lol. We cover those in IB maths, as where a lot of Japanese students don’t so they often take ベクトル as the option. Although it depends on the year, 確率分布 tends to be easier than ベクトル so that is a very small advantage.

I think this is probably it for now, but if I come up with things that I missed out, I will write it on another post. If you have further questions, you can always ask me through the comments on this page or through the contact form 🙂

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