Japan Data

Freshmen Slackers? Quarter of First-Year High Schoolers Don’t Study


Despite concerns about their grades and eventual career paths, tenth graders are increasingly failing to hit the books. The first year of high school in Japan is far enough from university entrance exams that the pressure has yet to feel real for these students.

Japanese students in tenth grade, their first year of high school, are of course concerned about their future career choices, along with their grades at school and in after-school supplementary study programs. However, the Longitudinal Survey of Newborns in the Twenty-first Century conducted by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology and Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare shows that fully a quarter of all students in this grade don’t do any study outside of lessons.

Taking responses from 30,000 children who were born in 2001, this survey is conducted every year and continuously observes the changes that come with the children’s ages and the situations they are in. When these children were in the first year of high school (the academic year beginning in April 2017), they were asked about the amount of time they study at home or at cram school to prepare for lessons and entrance exams. The largest response was “less than one hour,” with 29.3%, and a further 25.4% answered that they did no studying at all outside the classroom.

A similar question had been asked when the subjects were in ninth grade, their final year of junior high school, and at that time 6% had said they did no study, 29.8% did 1–2 hours, 26.1% did 2–3 hours, and 21.5% did more than 3 hours of study. This indicates that they were studying hard outside school for their high school entrance exams. Once the exams were safely over, though, and having some time before their university entrance exams roll around, high school freshmen may feel slightly relaxed.

When ninth graders were asked about their study habits outside of school and analyzed by the grades they scored, the figures were clear: Larger numbers of high-scoring students were in the habit of studying outside of school, while fully half of low-scoring students spent no time studying.

When asked about their concerns, both boys and girls were most worried about their career choices and grades at school and cram school. For boys, 27.8% worried about their career path and 20.5% about their grades, while 42.5% of girls worried about their career path and 31.9% their grades. It was clear that girls were also much more concerned about several other points compared to boys, with 17.4% mentioning appearances and 11.9% the relationships with their friends.

(Translated from Japanese. Banner photo © Pixta.)