5 Best Preparatory Schools for Japanese University Entrance Exams

Best Preparatory Schools for English Speaking Foreigners in Japan

Preparatory Schools for Japanese University Entrance Exams

Are you planning on applying to a Japanese university?

Depending on the university you’re applying to, entrance exams will widely vary in both content and difficulty level.

At first glance, it might seem difficult to prepare for a university entrance exam without having knowledge of the exam type or difficulty. This, especially as a foreigner.

However, there are preparatory schools where you can prepare for entrance exams of specific universities. In this article, I will introduce to you how these preparatory schools work as well as the 5 best preparatory schools in Japan for English-speaking foreigners to enter Japanese universities.

Japanese university entrance exams

taking university entrance exam

In Japan, in order to enter a university, you need to take an entrance exam. This might seem unusual for some of you reading this article because in many countries there isn’t such thing as a “university entrance exam”. However, that is how things work here in Japan, and as you may imagine, the more prestigious the university, the more difficult the exam.

Japanese university entrance exams can consist of several or all of the following; standardized exams, screening of the documents, interviews, oral examinations, short essays, practical exams, and written examinations.

The content of the entrance exam of a Japanese university can widely differ depending on the university or faculty that you choose to apply for.

If you ask the university, they will kind of let you know what kind of exams you will need to take. You can choose to prepare for these exams for yourself. However, in Japan, there are institutions that assist people who want to enter specific universities.

These institutions are called “Yobiko” and “Juku“.

What are “Yobiko” and “Juku”?

attending preparatory school

So, now you might ask “what are these institutions?”, “are they different from one another?”, “are they worth it?”.

What are these institutions?

Regarding the first question, the original definition of these two is as follows.

Yobiko (予備校): These are preparatory schools that offer students to achieve the goal of passing the entrance exam of the university they wish to enter.

Juku (塾): These are Cram schools or tutoring schools that help students achieve the goal of getting better grades at their current schools.

Are they different from one another?

As you can see from the explanation above, originally, these two had very specific purposes. However, nowadays, these two types of institutions tend to do both things, to the point that these two words are practically interchangeable.

*In this article, for the sake of convenience, I am referring to both of these entities as “preparatory schools”.

Are they worth it?

The quick answer is “Yes”. However, it also depends on the university you’re planning to apply to.

If you’re being ambitious and trying to apply to a prestigious university, then obviously you will have a lot of competition. Major Japanese universities will mostly have a certain amount of spots reserved especially for foreign students, but the number of these spots is quite limited. I imagine you will want to have an edge over your competition.

The strength of these preparatory schools is that they have information about past entrance exams for many universities and the lectures are specifically designed to prepare you to take these exams.

These lectures might not be a big deal if you’re applying to a relatively small university. However, it could be crucial when it comes to applying to top universities, where many of the applicants will have gone to a preparatory school.

5 best preparatory schools in Japan for English speaking foreigners

Although there are over 40,000 preparatory schools across Japan, preparatory schools that offer curricula for English-speaking international students are limited.

From here, let me introduce to you our 5 picks for preparatory schools for Japanese universities for English-speaking foreigners.

Some of these institutions are specifically focused on helping students get into the university that they want to enter, while other institutions are Japanese language schools that happen to offer this service.

I hope you find one that interests you.

1. International Study Institute (various campuses)

International Study Institute
International Study Institute website

The first preparatory school on our list is the International Study Institute (also known as ISI). This is a large Japanese language school that has campuses in Tokyo (Takadanobaba, Ikebukuro), Kyoto, and Nagano prefecture.

ISI holds its own events and courses that assist its students to find a university that matches their needs and assists the student to prepare for taking the entrance exams.

The school itself has a lot of information about Japanese universities, so they can assist you in finding a university in case you are not decided on one.

“Application Document Preparation Course”, “Interview Preparation Course”, and “Graduate School Application Preparation Course” are just some of the courses you can take to prepare for the application and exams.

▶Official Website: https://www.isi-education.com/discover-university-college

2. TOUA International Language School (Saitama)

TOUA International Language School
TOUA International Language School website

TOUA International Language School (東亜国際外語学院) is also a language school that happens to provide support for Japanese university entrance exams. It is located in Kitasakado, Saitama prefecture.

Apart from the usual courses that focus on improving your Japanese language skills such as reading, listening, speaking, and writing, they also have the “Course for further education” which is intended for students who are interested in pursuing higher education such as a university or graduate school.

This course also is intended to improve your Japanese language skills, but other than that, they will also assist you in getting ready for entrance exams such as EJU, JLT, and other types of exams.

▶Official Website: https://toua-edu.com/cource/759?lang=en

3. Ryugakukan (Tokyo)

Ryugakukan website

The next preparatory school on the list is Ryugakukan (留学館) which is located in Sugamo, Tokyo.

As opposed to the previous two schools, this school is not a language school. The website doesn’t come in English which implies that you will need to have a certain amount of Japanese language knowledge in order to apply.

The thing that makes this school different from the others is that the classes are completely one on one. Here, they will assist you with the skills that you need in order to pass the university entrance exam such as Japanese skills, English skills, essay-writing skills, and interview practice.

You can take the individual classes either at the school or you can also do them online.

▶Official Website: https://www.ryugakukan.com/meikou/

4. YMS (Tokyo)

YMS website

YMS is a little different from the other preparatory schools in the sense that this school is specialized for students who want to get into medical school. This school is located in Yoyogi, Tokyo.

As you may imagine, entrance exams for medical schools are different from other faculty entrance exams. They require more specific knowledge and terminologies.

Although they have some unorthodox methods of tutoring, their results are well known, being the preparatory school with most students being accepted to medical schools across Japan.

Just like the previous school, the website doesn’t come in English. So you will need to have a certain amount of Japanese language knowledge in order to apply.

▶Official Website: https://yms.ne.jp/courses/foreign-course/

5. EHLE Japanese Language School (Osaka)

EHLE Japanese Language School
EHLE Japanese Language School website

Lastly, on this list we have EHLE Japanese Language School (専門学校エール学園).

This School is located in Namba city, Osaka, and as you can see from its name, this is also a Japanese language school, but it also helps students to prepare for Japanese university entrance exams.

They offer several courses that tailor to the needs of the student such as “University of Tokyo, Kyoto University, Osaka University Course”, “National and Public University Preparatory Course”, and “Graduate School Preparatory Course”.

Other than the usual Japanese classes, they provide special conversation lectures to help you with interviews, training for EJU exams, and also specific subjects such as math, physics, and English.

▶Official Website: https://jls.ehle.ac.jp/en/

I hope this article was helpful in any way.

The purpose of this article is just to shine some light on the theme of preparatory schools and to introduce some of the popular ones. However, there are more preparatory schools out there that might have services that match your needs in a better way.

If any of the preparatory schools that I introduced sparked an interest in you, be sure to check further for yourself to be sure that you want to apply to it.

Lastly, if you’re working to get into a Japanese university, I wish you the best!

If you liked this article and wish for more information about living in Japan, be sure to check out our other articles.

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Written by

Born and raised in Costa Rica, I started living in Tokyo from college. I love traveling within Japan & around the world. Since I wasn’t born in Japan, I know the cultural impact that you can get when visiting Japan for the first time and what you might be worried about before your trip. And I’ve lived long enough to somewhat understand the nuances of the Japanese culture that make this country such an attractive place to visit. Hopefully I can provide to you both the information you’re looking for and the information you didn’t know you needed to know.