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East Asia has moved out of 'exam hell' but hasn't found heaven

Broader-based evaluation of university applicants has yielded few benefits

| East Asia
Schoolmates congratulate a student for passing the University of Tokyo's entrance exam: The student bodies of East Asia's most selective universities are generally rather homogeneous.    © AP

Fumiya Uchikoshi is a doctoral candidate in sociology at Princeton University. Yuki Asahina is an associate professor in the Graduate School of International and Area Studies at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies in Seoul.

In East Asia, the transparency of standardized exams, particularly for college admissions, has been a bedrock element of public belief in the possibility of upward socioeconomic mobility. The notion has been that anyone, regardless of class, gender or hometown, could achieve success as long as they studied hard, given faith that the exams themselves were fair.

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