leovitch (leovitch) wrote,
leovitch
leovitch

  • Location:
  • Music:

Systemization takes on a new meaning

So today I took the JLPT (Japanese-language equivalent of the TOEFL) Level 3 at Tokyo University's Komaba campus. The whole experience was, well, amazingly Japanese.

When we arrived at the campus, there were lots of signs and a few staffers to direct us where to go. I expected that just because the number of people taking the JLPT is large these days (it turns out, people studying Japanese worldwide have dramatically increased recently). Also, it wasn't surprising that they had already assigned me to a particular classroom in which to take the test.

However, the Asian mentality took over from there. It turns out, had I looked at the fine print of the confirmation voucher, they had actually assigned me, about four months prior to today, to a particular seat in the room. Every classrom in Todai Bldg. #1 has exactly 56 seats, in 7 ranks of 8 columns each. For the test they had sensibly decided to only use every other seat, and so there were 28 people per classroom, 7 rows of 4 columns. On my confirmation voucher, it actually listed "118D4" which had I known, meant Room 118 Column D Row 4.

Furthermore, there was nothing as random as a proctor administering the test. Oh, no. While there were proctors in our room (clearly Todai students working a weekend job), the test was remotely administered by a nameless instructor over a speaker system set up to broadcast simultaneously in every classroom taking the test (a single speaker was set up in the front of the room for this purpose). 1500 people simultaneously hearing and marking answers to the same question! Now that's uniformity!

You might think this was necessary to prevent things like students passing notes in the hall. But that was impossible anyway, since finishing early was strictly prohibited. You had to physically be in the room from the test's beginning to end, no finishing early permitted. In the third section, a number of students finished early, so they promptly laid their heads on their desks and went to sleep.

The final nail in the coffin of conformity was when I finished early and was studying the room.



This is the room I took the exam in (the photo wasn't taken during the exam). At some point I looked a little closer at those small silver plates on the table:



That's right, 118D-4 again. Each of the thousands of desks in classrooms at Todai is individually identified by a code number. No switching desks around, you'll get caught! Furthermore, the thing about this labeling that boggled my mind, whenever maintenance or repair is needed, the plates on all desks involved in the repair need to be updated. Over and over again I've been boggled by the level of regimentation here, and this (appropriately for a Japanese test) really reinforced it.
Tags: jlpt japan conformity exam
Subscribe

  • Japanese Student Viewpoint

    Student posters are pretty similar worldwide. The Todai Anti War Network posted this drawing (accusing Japanese PM Fukuda of being George Bush's…

  • Japanese Maple Leaf found on the sidewalk

    So pretty. So autumnal. A reminder of the incredible beauty in the smallest pieces of nature. From NaganoCity

  • Tonight, tonight

    HAPPY HAPPY HAPPY HAPPY HAPPY HAPPY HAPPY HAPPY HAPPY HAPPY HAPPY HAPPY HAPPY HAPPY HAPPY HAPPY HAPPY HAPPY HAPPY HAPPY HAPPY HAPPY HAPPY HAPPY HAPPY…

  • Post a new comment

    Error

    Anonymous comments are disabled in this journal

    default userpic
  • 1 comment